In an attempt to change the way we discuss, debate and educate ourselves about legislation, third-year law student Matthew Wilcut is launching, what he calls, a social network for we, the people.
Wilcut is using his Capstone Leadership Project at Elon University School of Law as an opportunity to expand his idea for a legislation-based social networking site, GenAssem, as part of “The 50K Challenge” sponsored by VoltCrowd.com.
Wilcut’s VoltCrowd website, designed to attract funders for the project, describes GenAssem as a one-stop online portal for legal education, research, collective knowledge building and civic engagement.
“At its simplest, the project is designed as the one place online where a person would go if they wanted to learn about, discuss, debate, offer changes to, or draft from scratch legislation and that includes local city ordinances, state laws and regulations, and federal laws and regulations,” Wilcut said. “People are using the traditional or popular social media sites to discuss the legal system and politics in droves but to what end other than just exercising the ability to be heard? This platform is meant to provide for improvement all around – you get a more educated group of citizens to become more directly engaged and you can end up with better laws. From there it starts a cycle of benefits.”
The goal of the “The 50k Challenge” is to create as many jobs as possible by collecting contributions over a 5-week period. Wilcut is one of 93 finalists participating in the job creation challenge through the VoltCrowd.com. His goal is to raise 1 year’s worth of salaries for a development team that will launch GenAssem.
The Capstone Leadership Project allows students to create and execute a project that benefits Elon Law or the legal community at large for course credit during the third-year of law school. Wilcut has also entered his project into another contest through Ignite-Good.org. Winners of this competition will be announced on Nov. 27.
“There’s use for the project now, but in the future – when the site community has become more established – I envision that they’ll be able to accomplish greater and greater things,” Wilcut said. “I think the one thing I could put on a roadmap that could let people know that the site has proven its worth is when a group of people come together to create, from scratch, a bill or resolution from which the same or substantially similar language goes on to become law or regulation without much alteration from parties outside of the site.”
By Courtney Roller, L’13