How do you Use Technology for your Legal Empowerment Work?

With COVID19, societies everywhere are grappling with rapid transitions to digital modes of living: From remote working to online data collection, and organizing online meetings and discussions. This has created an urgent need for nuanced discussions that account for both the social and the technical dimensions of a digital society.

As community members take on this digital transformation and embrace this new challenge, we are looking to engage and hear from you how this journey has been so far. What challenges are you facing as you adopt these new models in continuing your legal empowerment work? What significant changes have you seen in terms of sharing and participating with your communities? How are your online outreach methods or technical adaptations being shaped by the communities you serve or your governments?

Feel free to share your experiences and even recommend best practices as we all take on this very steep learning curve :slight_smile:

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During the 2018 Leadership course, Technology for Legal Empowerment was a key feature; watch the full recording here. @tomwalker, @paola and the rest of the Engine Room team also put together a well-written resource on best practices.

It would be nice to hear what new recommendations they have as we deliberate this within the context of COVID19.

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Another honorable mention would be the good people at Nazdeek who in 2017, developed and implemented SMS for Justice: a project that combines legal education and community-reporting through technology.

@ShreyaSen Please share how this system has worked for you and and for the women you work with during this pandemic.

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@manolomorales Are there any new adaptations/recommendations you would want to share with regards to the adaptation of Greenline at ECOLEX?

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Thank you for the mention, @mutanukyanya! I would like to invite those who aren’t familiar with our organisation, The Engine Room, to reach out to us with any questions they have about the use of technology & data in legal empowerment, related to Covid-19 or otherwise. Aside from our report with best practices, we also offer pro-bono direct support to organisations or individuals who need it :slight_smile: You can find more information about our support offer in the resources below:

I do recognize that these resources date from before the Covid era, but we would be more than happy to help you with any current questions you may have!

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Thank you for the links and offer of support, @paola - It is good to hear from you!

I know that some of our members, such as @Time, @Tunde_IO, @AniketHD, @ssood, @poltenko, @lizkeith, @katielam, @katerichardson, @alexturcan, @Bassyjnr, @Faith, and more have been using technology for legal empowerment work for many years, while others like @vesnashapkoski, @andrewmaki, @jaronvogelsang, @DennisEkwere and MANY others are interested in working with new uses of technology for everything from legal assistance via SMS platforms to virtual community organizing and paralegal training under the current circumstances of COVID-19.

I would be interested to hear of difficulties or successes in adapting to new technologies or tips from veteran users of such platforms in the current context.

Hi Mike! Hello everyone! Our online legal q&a project www.yAvo.md proves to be a useful tool for the people of Moldova. During the past months we had a steady daily flow of an average of 1000 new users per day. Our total user count is now getting close to 600K. 25% of all users come from diaspora (i.e. Moldovans working abroad). The platform was particularly useful during covid, as people had plenty of small legal queries related to various legal issues generated by the pandemic. We have also launched the ‘law bono’ functionality (i.e. availability to provide tailored legal consultation or assistance for a reasonable fee - online and offline), but things that cost money (no matter how small) are generally not as popular as things that are offered for free. Good luck to everyone! Stay safe!

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Thanks for the tag, @michaelotto! Pro Bono Net has been working on a number of legal empowerment & tech efforts. One project of note has been our work on the Legal Risk Detector App. The Legal Risk Detector App is a FREE program developed with Pro Bono Net that service providers can use to screen seniors for potential legal issues.

@lizkeith hosted an excellent webinar on titled “Strategies for Providing Remote Legal Services to Older Adults” Remote legal services are particularly important for older adults and people of all ages with compromised immune systems who are at high-risk if exposed to COVID-19.

Besides the Risk Detector App, PBN has shifted its user research outreach approach to accommodate for the challenges that COVID presents.The outreach methods used for my projects have always been online to some degree, but we have adjusted our strategy to take the “digital fatigue” many are experiencing into consideration. We are also keenly aware of the voices we cannot reach by digital means and have kept this fact top of mind as we move forward. COVID only complicates existing inequalities built into digital spaces. We rely heavily on our partners who are on the frontlines supporting their communities for guidance on what community members need most.

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Hi Michael and others. Thank you for bringing up this issue that happened to be so crucial at this period. As some of you already know, LET STATION in March this year introduced an online and telephone service *Call emergency paralegal aid" available 24/7 people from marginalized communities in North Macedonia. It was initially developed (at the LELC 2019) as a form of introducing technology in legal empowerment, bringing paralegals closer to the broader group of people while saving resources and time, but in this unprecedented times of spreading of COVID - 19 it happened to be the perfect tool for a rapid response to the crisis. Up to now, we have already provided more than 300 legal services to people, helping them mainly to overcome the consequences of the pandemic (social, economic, health) and assisting them in using the government’s measures for coping and overcoming the crisis. At the end of last month, we have managed to realize a 4-day On-line school for paralegals where 12 candidates were trained on the basic principles of paralegal aid, social, labor and agriculture rights (mainly with focus on Roma and people living in rural areas). It resulted in engaging 5 paralegals as a permanent service providers in our association.

The pandemic had indeed brought a severe changes to the way we were conceptualizing and realizing legal empowerment work, but having progressive and creative team happened to be the key aspect of overcoming the obstacles.

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Hi Katie Lam… Thats great to hear. Could you please share your contact detail for exchange of experiences and knowledge

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Use of Technology in our work have been intensified during and in post Covid-19 in Nigeria. It has made our relevance amplified in reach and target but limiting and creating a wide gap for the poor unconnected in rural communities.

Challenging most is the cost of data for us to be presence online to do our works. Internet data is still unaffordable to many including us, as cost limits engagement and continual presence.

However, the use of social media space have helped us dispel myths and misconceptions about Covid-19, misinformation and fake news.

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Thankyou Dennis for chiming in into the conversation. Could you please tell us how social media has been beneficial to you and your community? What social media platform do you find your community leans most into and why? What good practices would you advocate that the Legal Empowerment Network Members take up?

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Very important topic!

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Social media space have been beneficial in many ways to us as organization, making use of it.

It has enable us to reach out to many target groups at a more timely manner and at far less cost.

We use whatsaap, twitter and majorly Facebook in communicating and engaging with our audience. Facebook is more effective to us, realizing that highest number of Nigerians that are connected are on facebook and are active users. We use twitter mostly to communicate state actors, given that twitter seems elitist to everyday Nigeria social media users.

I will therefore advocate that we all learn how each and different social media platforms works within our localities and with our target groups, so as to best choose which to use and use it well in communication and engagement.

Despite of positive side, we have these kind of challenges in Somalia:-URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO ADDRESS THE GROWING ONLINE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SOMALIA - Bareedo Platform Somalia