I should start by saying how impressed I am with the global legal empowerment network. Also, great to see that Nigerians are a part of it.
Nigeria’s population of 180m plus presents an opportunity for paralegals to scale their impact. The problem though starts with perception - Nigerians are accustomed to ‘wig and gown’ Lawyers, even when they trust paralegals or civil society in the legal space.
It’s great to see that paralegals are accessible to Nigerian communities. However, it’s time for paralegals to use tools communities are already familiar with. Start with say Facebook. Nigerians of all shades use Facebook regularly. This presents a good platform to educate, enlighten and engage with paralegals.
Another is short messaging services. It’s lot easier for paralegals to reach (and be reached) through text messaging.
I can go on but the point is that ‘Uberizing’ access to justice is faster and a lot cheaper. The legal aid system in Nigeria is stretched and many communities lack quality representation and advice in court or tribunals.
Few qualified Lawyers are providing pro bono assistance making the work of justice delivery immensely difficult.
I hope that this very short piece sparks an exchange of ideas to scale paralegals’ work in and outside Nigeria.
Thanks @ajioye for the above post, very interesting points you mention. I particularly enjoyed your thoughts on the “Uberizing” of access to justice - the overall justice sector has been slow on technological uptake generally, but I do think technological advances are coming to the sector either way.
I do know that the emerging Myanmar paralegal network in Myanmar uses Facebook in various ways to engage with the public due to the fact that much of the public is using Facebook (maybe @KhinHtetWai or @nwenisoe could speak to that?) - an modern example of going to where the people are, like going to the market to set up brick and mortar community justice services, which is still relevant in most places.
Also, mobile phones are often discussed in terms of apps for paralegal case management, but the use of SMS texting for supply side is an interesting one - anyone have experience with that?
Indeed! Thanks for the reminder. You make some good points in your post from 2017. Amazing that nobody jumped on the opportunity to debate you. Technology is great but is it a panacea? What are the risks to consider to counter the benefits? What is the role of ngos, of government and of private sector?
Can you give some examples of how social media and SMS has been used in Nigeria by folks seeking to know, use and shape the law?
Very interesting ! A great network member in Kenya Kituo cha Sheria – Legal Advice Centre uses an SMS platform called M-HAKI. Through this platform, members of the public text their legal questions to a given number and receive responses on the go!
Perhaps there could be a discussion on how technology is being used to advance legal empowerment? The region has a lot to offer.
This example of M-HAKI is a good one to talk about here, because it leverages SMS as @ajioye references when he started this topic. What’s the latest with that initiative? The website looks great but it also seems to be devoid of content now. A bug, perhaps, or is it possible the project has ended? If so, it would be interesting to hear more about how the project went and any learnings.
Hi @DennisEkwere great question. There are use cases of low cost tech in resource constrained environments. Please feel free to look at our online summary on technology in legal empowerment Technology for Legal Empowerment . Feel free to send me a message if you have any interest in talking further.
Facebook, YouTube and local radio station has been our major source of contact to our community, we enlighten the public through these means and it’s been very overwhelming with the feedback we get on daily bases
We equally receives hundreds of cases of abuses of police brutality and other human rights degradation, we thank God for the paralegal comrades we’ve trained over the years we started and they equally are passionate about their work
We are recording success in our activities though we still have a long way to go in educating the general public about their rights in the law