With interdisciplinary ventures spanning events, dual-major programs, and more, the College of Law is happy to be part of the rich tapestry of education at the University of Illinois. Our students find their own ways to enrich their education through interdisciplinary work as well, which is a significant point of pride for the entire College.
One of those students, Paris Hannon ’23, combined her legal education with Illinois’s world-class engineering program by participating in programs through the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC). Part of the Grainger College of Engineering, TEC encourages students to pursue entrepreneurial goals through classes, competitions, and events that expose students to the concepts of technology innovation and market adoption. Working with TEC faculty, such as her mentor Harlee Sorkin, Hannon began developing an idea for legal software.
With experience as a paralegal in addition to her College of Law coursework, Hannon felt she could create a better way to organize documents and supporting materials to help lawyers craft arguments. Working in TEC’s NSF-funded I-Corps program, Hannon built out her idea and created OneSpace. Through the I-Corps experience, OneSpace developed into a desktop software to streamline the legal writing process.
“OneSpace is simple: it allows attorneys to clearly see the larger landscape of the matter so they can work more efficiently and build a more effective argument,” Hannon explained.
Based on her hard work, Hannon was encouraged by TEC faculty to take part in the Innovation Idea Fair & Celebration on December 2nd. Her project was one of more than 60 showcased at the Siebel Center for Design and one of just a few recognized as the event’s best. Beyond the recognition, Hannon was also a micro-grant to continue building out her software.
“I felt out of my element because I was a law student there with all the engineering students,” she said. “I was so surprised, I couldn’t believe it.”
Hannon is not resting on her laurels, however; she plans to continue to build a prototype of OneSpace for testing. Her goal is to “utilize as many things as [she] can” while still at Illinois, including participating in TEC events such as the Cozad New Venture Challenge and SocialFuse, which will help her pitch her software and network with people on campus who can help her move the project forward.
While she continues her hard work toward making her software into something that can help lawyers of all stripes, Hannon encourages other students to follow her lead and find ways to enrich their College of Law education.
“There are so many opportunities outside law school open to any student here,” she said. “It’s really been amazing.”