ABA partners with CLI, Hive Legal and Josef for the Rule of Law Initiative

The American Bar Association's on a mission to solve legal issues with legaltech

The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative has partnered with the Centre for Legal Innovation, Hive Legal and Josef to explore innovative solutions to a variety of legal issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

ABA ROLI field staff based in the region, including Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, learned how to apply legaltech and legal design solutions to justice projects outside of government institutions.

“This was an excellent program which has energised and inspired our team,” says ABA ROLI’s Angela Conway. 

The sessions were designed and presented by Terri Mottershead, Executive Director of the Centre for Legal Innovation at The College of Law, Melissa Lyon, Executive Director and Experience Designer at Hive Legal, and Sam Flynn, COO and Co-founder of legal automation platform Josef.

The impetus for and impact of the collaboration was summarised by Terri Mottershead, Executive Director of the Centre for Legal Innovation at The College of Law: “For a long-time global legal systems have been designed to bring people to the law and not vice versa.”

“When we put user experience at the core of redesigning these systems, that premise is flipped for the better.”

“We applaud the ABA for leading the way in upskilling their teams in the principles of design thinking and, in applying those concepts, actively working with their in-country partners to find better ways for communities to access the law where they live and work.“   

Going on a legal design journey – from ideation to prototyping

Participants were introduced to skills and different methodologies to help them achieve their respective goals – ranging from helping victims of gender-based violence, to providing guidance about criminal justice initiatives – while navigating issues within their respective legal and justice systems and taking into consideration limitations around resources, security, safety, cultural sensitivities, and infrastructure.

ABA ROLI staff walked through the legal design journey – which begins with empathising to understand the challenge, articulating the problem that needs solving, brainstorming solutions, then prototyping design, followed by testing iterations.

“If we start by empathising with the people we are designing for rather than jumping to a solution, we are able to identify so many more creative and sustainable ways to provide them with support and access to justice,” says Melissa Lyon, Executive Director & Experience Designer at Hive Legal.

“It is fulfilling to know that this way of thinking and the ideas that were identified in this program will go on to improve the experience for some of the most vulnerable people in our global community.”

Brainstorming bots to help victims of gendered violence

ABA ROLI staff were also introduced to legaltech solutions, including Josef bots, to apply to their services and projects. One of the solutions the group brainstormed included a bot to help victims of gender-based violence access services and resources.

Ideas for the bot included integrating it with Facebook and WhatsApp for victims with access to social media, in order to be discreet and accessible.

“Five billion people in the world have unmet justice needs,” says Sam Flynn, COO and Co-founder of Josef.

“Legaltech is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to help us close the justice gap by connecting expert legal knowledge with those who need it most.”

“But, if legaltech is going to be used effectively, we need to empower experts and frontline workers with the right skills. That’s why programs like this are so important.”

With these challenges in mind, the sessions aimed to equip legal practitioners in the region with user-centred design skills to apply to legal and non-formal solutions that adequately address what the citizens need – not what lawyers determine the solution to be.

The sessions offered a way of thinking to help break down complex legal issues in ways that the general public and clients can understand. They emphasised how lawyers can deliver legal services simply, functionally, and with intention, how to add small improvements to existing systems, and how to create brand new tools and access to services.

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