Summary of HIIL Report: Towards Basic Justice Care for Everyone

I have recently announced the publication of HiiL's recent Report: Towards Basic Justice Care for Everyone, and have been meaning to summarize its findings (some which might run counter to the conservative legal tradition). This report was in part based on a meeting in The Hague on 16 and 17 April on the topic, that we attended. Summary follows (asie from the summary, you should read the report for highlights of some innovative approaches, that interestingly are not expensive) :

Southeast Asia Regional Meeting on Paralegals Nov 6-7 Jakarta

Southeast Asia Regional Meeting on Legal Workshop
Jakarta, Indonesia
November 6-7, 2012

Call for Applications

Does your organization provide community-based paralegal services in Southeast Asia? Are you interested in learning from the experiences of others to address common challenges? Do you want to know more about the impact your program is having, and how to improve on it?

The Open Society Justice Initiative, TIFA Foundation, Namati, and the Indonesian Legal Resource Center (ILRC) are bringing together legal empowerment practitioners from across Southeast Asia to a Regional Workshop for Community-Based Paralegal Programmes.

The training workshop will provide a space for NGO leaders and senior program managersto learn from each other about the breadth of legal empowerment methods employed in the region and methods for improving them. It will also offer participants an opportunity to explore their own monitoring and evaluation plans with some of the world’s leading experts in measuring the impact of legal empowerment.

For more information, click here. To download an application, click here. Applications are due on September 7, 2012.

Discussion on legal technology innovation, in San Francisco, California

Tim Hwang tells us  that he is organizing a dinner / discussion about legal technology innovation, in San Francisco, California, on 4 September 2012, this coming Tuesday.  To RSVP, please contact Tim via the email listed on his Website  or on Twitter at  or

Most Pressing Need: Legal Information for the Layperson

Delivering legal information targeted on needs of disputants is key to legal empowerment. It came out as the number one strategy for improving access to justice when 100 experts discussed a Trend Report on Basic Justice Care.

"We the People" Software is now Open Source

The software that powers "We the People"  -- the epetition platform for the U.S. Presidency -- has been made free and open source and is now available on GitHub is background information from Andrew Webster at The Verge:  (shortlink:  )

HiiL Publication: Towards Basic Justice Care for Everyone: Challenges and Promising Approaches 2012

People suffer from ‘local’ problems in their key relationships: in their family, at work, with neighbours, about land and housing or about the way their community is governed; even obtaining an ID may be hard. This can have a serious impact on their livelihood and personal security. If best practices in law and justice from across the world would be widely applied, at least 75% of such problems could be solved in a satisfactory way (at the moment many places do not reach 50%). This is the main message of HiiL report on worldwide trends in providing access to justice: Towards Basic Justice Care for Everyone: Challenges and Innovative Approaches, released beginning of April 2012.  Download here:  Strategies Towards Basic Justice Care 

Goyal on Legal Technology Innovation and lawTechCamp

Monica Goyal, J.D., M.Sc., of MyLegalBriefcase has published Why Tech Innovation Comes Slow in Legal Profession, on

The post describes the panel discussion on “Legal Techs in a Brave New World” at lawTechCamp 2011, held 18 June 2011 in Toronto.
In this post, Ms. Goyal identifies several factors that inhibit legal technology innovation, including lawyers’ general lack of education in science and engineering, unduly strict regulation of the legal services market, and a lack of funding. Ms. Goyal highlights the current process in the UK of deregulating the legal services market, as a model for reform in other jurisdictions.
In addition, Connie Crosby recently wrote a post summarizing lawTechCamp 2011 at, the Canadian legal blog. Discussions begun during lawTechCamp 2011 are being continued ina LinkedIn group.

New AfricLaw Blog for African Rule of Law Issues

AfricLaw, launched in April 2012, is a blog which provides a platform for discussion for those interested in the rule and role of law in Africa. The AfricLaw blog is a joint venture of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) and the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) of the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

All areas of law applicable to Africa are covered, both international (global and continental) and national. Legal academics and students, researchers, international and national civil servants, legislators and politicians, legal practitioners and judges, as well as those who are not lawyers but have an interest in law are among those who are welcome to participate in the discussions. 

AfricLaw provides a space for the discussion of issues of substance, forming of opinions and information sharing among people living on the continent, those from Africa who are in the diaspora, and anyone else who is interested in participating. AfricLaw will also serve as a vehicle for comments from Africa on legal developments in the rest of the world. 

Berkman Series: Unexpected Development: Decolonial Media Aesthetics and Women’s ICT4D Video

Tuesday, April 17, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, Cambridge, MA. This event will be webcast live.

ICT4D (Information Communication Technology for Development) powerfully frames women's grassroots video production in the Global South, much of which is distributed widely through YouTube. Often, these videos reproduce racialized and gendered discourses - legacies of colonialism - in their narratives of economic, social, and technological progress. However, there are also videos by women's groups that defy both the historical linearity and spatial fragmentation of the ICT4D framework. These videos instead remix, reclassify, and globally reconnect women's experiences in the contemporary moment. Culled from hundreds of online videos produced by ICT4D programs, including those in countries classified as having "Low Human Development" according to the Gender Inequality Index of the United Nations Development Program, these media represent powerful instances of a decolonial aesthetics, an altogether unexpected development. These ICT4D videos make compelling claims for other historical narratives and visions for women's future lives, identities, and uses of information communication technologies.

Dalida MarĂ­a Benfield's research addresses artists' and activists' creative uses of video and other networked digital media towards social justice projects. Her work is focused on the transformational capacities of media art across different scales. As an artist and activist, she has developed production, education, exhibition, and distribution initiatives focused on youth, women, people of color in the U.S., and local and transnational social movements, including co-founding the media collective Video Machete. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of California-Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies with Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. RSVP Requiredmore information on Berkman's website>

Uganda's JLOS Holds Workshop To Validate the National Legal Aid Policy

This is a cross posting from the DevLawGeek blog maintained by San:

I have just returned from Uganda where we work in partnership with JLOS, (Justice Law and Order Sector),  an umbrella organization of key government/quasi-government stakeholders in Uganda, for the coordination of access to and administration of justice, simply because these are areas of overlapping jurisdiction between so many actors. For practical (and maybe political?) purposes, it also acts as the channel for much international funding for Access To Justice and Democracy/Governance projects. It comprises of among others, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MOJCA), Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA); The Judiciary; Uganda Police Force (UPF), and the Uganda Law Society. 

Uganda, like Rwanda, has been developing a policy document for legal aid, and we had the benefit of attending the stakholders' meeting and reviewing a draft of the document. One issue that we face in many countries, and in Africa in particular, is that legal aid is traditionally seen as free, and in fact, this has been encased in this document. So when we try to introduce an innovative fee-for-service model in legal service delivery for the poor (much like microfinance that charges fees and interests), we run into multiple issues on branding (are we a law firm?), 

Event: ABA presents Exploring Trends in Promoting the Rule of Law

The American Bar Association (ABA) is presenting a workshop on "Exploring Trends in Promoting the Rule of Law".
March 28, 2012, 12:30–7:00 p.m.
Venue Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center
3800 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, D.C.
Register online 

What is most interesting to us is that Technology and Access to Justice is one of the topics of discussion, which is the niche that BarefootLawyers fell into some years ago by accident, and it is so nice to know that the field is expanding and being promoted by the usual suspects such as the ABA. Their topic description:
Technology and Access to Justice
Technology holds significant potential for increasing access to justice. This panel will share examples of the ways in which technology has already contributed in this area, and, if better utilized, how technology can produce further gains. Does the democracy and governance community have realistic expectations about the potential of technology to increase access to justice and, more generally, to propel justice sector reform?

ABA ROLI to present the Access to Justice Assessment Tool

Please click here to RSVP.

Event Details: March 21, 2012. 10am-2pm
Location: American Society of International Law, at Tillar House
2223 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

The Access to Justice Assessment Tool is one in a series of assessment tools developed by experts in technical legal assistance and law reform at the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI). The Tool is a research methodology for assessing the extent to which communities and individuals are able to use justice institutions to solve common justice problems.  It has enabled civil society organizations in countries around the world to conduct professional-quality research on access to justice and to design effective reforms and programming to address access to justice challenges in their communities. Using the Access to Justice Assessment Tool, ABA ROLI’s civil society partners have made important discoveries and generated knowledge with the potential to improve access to justice for the poor and the marginalized.

Namati inviting South Asian participants to M&E Workshop

South Asia Practitioners Fair: Monitoring and Evaluation
19th – 20th April 2012, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Namati is teaming up with BRAC, Multiple Action Rights Group (MARG), and Open Society Justice Initiative to offer NGO leaders and senior program managers an opportunity to explore their own monitoring and evaluation plans with some of the world’s leading experts in measuring the impact of legal empowerment.
You’ll have the chance to hear about the latest methodologies used in the field, and have one-on-one detailed advice from experts on the most suitable approach for your own needs, as well as input in planning your own research. By the end of the workshop, you will come away with concrete plans for understanding and documenting the impact of your work.

Inaugural Singapore Clinical Legal Education Conference and Workshop March 16-17, 2012

Inaugural Singapore Clinical Legal Education Conference and CLE Community Legal Education Training of Trainers Workshop
Singapore Management University in partnership with
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia CLE,
Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia CLE Singapore, and
Northumbria International Journal of Clinical Legal Education

The importance of pro bono work was emphasised during the Opening of Legal Year 2012, with the Chief Justice articulating the need to actively cultivate a culture of doing pro bono work.
It is against this backdrop that the Inaugural Singapore Clinical Legal Education Conference and CLE Training of Trainers Workshop are launched. The Conference and Workshop will serve as a forum to create opportunities for promoting Clinical Legal Education (CLE) in Singapore, the ASEAN region and the globe. The promotion of CLE ties in well with the expressed desire to revitalise Singapore’s pro bono scene.

Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2012

Following my last post on review of 2010/11 Legal Tech, here is what Jason from No Option for Law Firm thinks are the top legal technologies for 2012 ie emerging technology for Legal in 2012 or that will be technology that will feature heavily in Legal in 2012. (And bear in mind, this is the US he is talking about, it will be a while before Africa gets that kind of broadband, even for law firms)
  • Speech Recognition
  • Windows Phone/Android/iPhone : Or more to the point, the death of the blackberry in Legal.
  • SharePoint (Jason's on the fence about this, although I think that Law Firms will not be leaning toward Google Apps)
  • The return of the laptop/netbook : not that they ever really went away.
  • A new vendor emerging as a major Legal IT player : Jason thinks that the market is ripe for a new Legal focussed player to emerge. "I’m not sure where, but there seem to be plenty of opportunities for technology focus in Legal that aren’t being addressed or existing technology that is perhaps being forgotten as the traditional players diversify into other verticals."
  • There are things from the last few years that will continue in 2012, Office 2010 becoming the default platform and IM continuing to proliferate around Legal. But these feel more business as usual now. 

Top 5 Legal IT technologies for 2010 and 2011 in Review

This list from Jason Plant’s Blog (who is an IT expert who works in a law firm, who will post the 2012 list tomorrow) :
My 2010 list was as follows:
  • Mobile Applications
  • Search
  • Office 2010/Windows 7
  • Instant Messaging
  • Speech Recognition
And then in 2011 was:
  • Glue Tech
  • Microsoft Lync
  • YouTube
  • Mobile Applications
  • Office 2010 and Windows 7
And I love what he said about the pace of legal tech, which underscores the overall pace of change, adaptability and innovation in the industry:
"’s clear that things don’t move at a fast pace across the whole of Legal."

Legal Opinion delivered via Poetry

I read about this recent piece of brilliant poetry aka legal opinion on Martin Gramatikov's Access to Justice blog, and just had to share. This is an awesome twist to innovation in justice- using not new technology like cell phones or the internet (which we often blog about on this site), but old fashioned poetry. Admittedly, this judgement so much easier to read and understand than a typical legal document. Gives some food for thought about the dissemination of legal knowledge for legal empowerment- maybe we can have legal information in poetry via SMS!

(reproduced partially from the legal opinion of Commonwealth v. Goodson here):

In January, 2001, appellant’s car was in a collision.
His insurer totaled the aging New Yorker, then made a just division
of the value of the insurance claim, sending $6,289 to the lender;
the balance of $135, to appellant they made tender.