I have been familiar with FrontlineSMS since my days at The Asia Foundation, and in fact have thought about using that technology on many occasions for our projects. I love the idea, but it was still in the rather early stages of deployment then. I recently talked to Sean McDonald today about FrontlineSMS Legal, which builds on the original core Frontline to expand functionality for people in the legal world, in particular, as a SMS-based case management system of sorts. Legal is still in the early stages of development, but I can't wait till I can see a beta version to help test it, using the Microjustice field offices.
A good recent summary on the intersection of law and development. A parallel discussion to my previous post: 'Theories of Law and Development'
What is Law and Development? Mariana Prado (Toronto Faculty of Law)
ABSTRACT: Law & Development studies have been growing in the past few years, after having its death declared in the 1070s. There is, however, very little clarity as to what this field of study encompasses or whether it is a field at all. Under the label of Law & Development one can find a wide variety of studies, approaches, analyses and topics. Some studies focus on formal institutions, discussing how enforcement of contracts, protection of property rights, and an independent judiciary protect investors and improve economic growth in developing countries. Others have not focused on economic development, but instead on how laws to protect women from abuses in the family and to create quotas to guarantee their participation in the public sphere have been largely ineffective due to deeply embedded social norms and value that cannot be changed by legislation (at least not from one day to the next). Still others have criticized the Law & Development discourse as another source of imperialism and dominance that justify senseless legal transplants from the North to the South.
It's more than just a web presence- read the fundamentals of providing legal services over the internet, as well as innovative best practices (with a US-slant of course):
"How can I practice law over the Internet?" This web site will help you find answers to that question.
eLawyering is doing legal work - not just marketing - over the Web. Pioneering practitioners have found dramatic new ways to communicate and collaborate with clients and other lawyers, produce documents, settle disputes, interact with courts, and manage legal knowledge. ELawyering encompasses all the ways in which lawyers can do their work using the Web and associated technologies. Think of lawyering as a "verb" - interview, investigate, counsel, draft, advocate, analyze, negotiate, manage, .. - and there are corresponding Internet-based tools and technologies.
There are exciting initiatives underway now that deserve attention by all lawyers - present and future. While admittedly just a subset of the vast legal technology world, eLawyering and its lawyer-less analogs present fundamental challenges for our profession. There are great dangers, but also great opportunities for attorneys in the coming decade. To be successful in the coming era, lawyers will need to know how to practice over the Web, manage client relationships in cyberspace, and ethically offer "unbundled" services.