Sixth Annual CUBE Innovators Invitational Draws Teams from Around New York City
At Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) sixth annual Innovators Invitational, student teams from Brooklyn Law School, Fordham University School of Law, Cardozo School of Law, and Cornell Tech competed for $12,000 in prizes. This is the first year the competition included teams from other schools in the New York City area. The Cornell Tech team of Stanton Burke and Chris Kruger placed first receiving a $6,000 prize for Gratis, a program that connects pro bono attorneys with clients in need, and Chynna Foucek ’21 was awarded a $4,000 second prize for her venture, RAP Revise, which would help correct errors on rap sheets. Steven Deolus ’20 and Sydney Abualy ’20 placed third for their venture, Legal Chain, and the Fordham Law team of Alex Fagella and Cinar Oney placed fourth for Fight A Summons. Both teams were awarded $1,000.
The competition is modeled after the popular TV show “Shark Tank.” Student teams pitched entrepreneurial ventures to a panel of judges, including one artificial intelligence (AI) judge, who posed questions on the legal, social, and business implications of each project. Additional contestants from Brooklyn Law School and their ventures were Jerry Grazioli ’19, Centrist, Robert Denis ’20 and Brian Faure, Eagle Claim, Benjamin Sklar ’21, Forage, and Nick Denny ’19, Jim Kilduff ’19 and George Somi ’19, ResumeAid.
“We designed the Invitational to leverage the technological savvy of current and recent law students,” said John Rudikoff ’06, CEO and managing director of CUBE. “The competition gives presenters the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the startups that they will serve as lawyers, positions them to become subject matter experts in the technology their future employers are now adopting, and provides them with a vehicle for launching their own ventures.”
The judges were Anna Ashurov ’12, Vice President, Financing Group, at Goldman Sachs and a Brooklyn Law School Recent Graduate Trustee; Christopher Doyle, partner at Strook; Lawrence Howard ’93, senior lecturer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Jeffrey Lee ’05, senior vice president, Capalino + Company; Bianca Lin, associate at Allegaert, Berger & Vogel; Robert Manne ’77, senior vice president and general counsel, Ultimate Software; Andrea Markstrom, chief information officer, Blank Rome; Harvey Mitnick ’65, general counsel, JVC; Andrew Raussa ’13, associate general counsel, Facebook; and Leanne Welds ’14, associate, Simpson Thacher.
A unique new feature of this year’s pitch competition was “Abby” the AI judge, developed by Presentr. “Our objective was to explore how artificial intelligence might enhance, support, or interfere with the judicial process,” said Professor Jonathan Askin, founder and director of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic and the innovation catalyst for CUBE. “Some have suggested that AI might replace human lawyers and human judges. While there will always be a role for the non-digital, more subtle judgment of humans training in legal reasoning, I believe AI will assist lawyers, allowing them to pursue more substantive and nuanced legal thinking.”
The AI judge and the human judges evaluated presenters on different skills. The human judges were focused on substance, while Abby was focused on presentation.
“Next year, we have considered some global pitch competitions, including a potential collaboration with Tsinghua University in Beijing,” Askin added. “I am curious to determine how the judgment of an American-based AI might diverge from the judgment of a Chinese AI.”
Sponsors of the Invitational included Bob and Grace Manne Family Foundation; Stanley and Nancy Grossman Family Foundation; Allegaert, Berger & Vogel; Blank Rome; Capalino + Company; Strook; Presentr; and Two Trees Management.
CUBE provides clinical courses at the Law School and hosts public programs that highlight the startup industry and the role of attorneys within it. CUBE’s goal is to prepare students for a legal environment that is evolving and now includes many jobs in alternative fields. CUBE also provides small business startups with pro bono legal services.
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