Seeking support in using tech for Legal empowerment?

Lesedi Bewlay

Earlier this year, we released research on how legal empowerment organisations are using tech and data in their work. Inspired by that research, we’re excited to offer pro-bono, actionable and tailored support – through our Light Touch Support (LiTS) support programme – to legal empowerment organisations or activists who are interested in working more with data and tech.

If your work seeks to increase the capacity of all people to exercise their rights and you have questions about tech platforms, data management, tools and more, keep reading! Below are some challenges we’ve identified in speaking with others, to give you some ideas of how we can collaborate. Whether these resonate with your experience or if you have slightly different questions to answer, you can register for a LiTS support call here.

What are the challenges to using tech internally?

In our previous work, we researched how organisations were using internal technology and data (e.g. case management platforms) to support their community-based justice provisions. These organisations were interested in improving their use of tech and data in order to capture better data about their activities, to improve the quality – and their understanding – of their work. Some of the common challenges we heard about include:

  • Organisations were often unaware of existing platforms that could have worked in their contexts, including in environments with limited connectivity and access to power
  • Once they’re created/selected, introducing and implementing a new case management system often became more time- and cost-intensive than expected
  • Knowledge about how to collect and manage personal and legal data responsibly and securely (at a technical level) was uneven, with many organisations citing uncertainty on how to handle data responsibly
  • When it comes to using data, many organisations lacked the team and resources to ensure effective and accurate collection and entering of data. Often, the lack of standardised formats or poor quality of available data also hindered the efficacy of data that had been collected.

These challenges were not the end of the story. There are many organisations creating and repurposing solutions in interesting ways! When incorporated effectively, adopting new tech tools and data processes internally can translate into the ability to serve larger numbers of people, increased client trust, more context-driven interventions, reduced spending and decreased team stress and overwork.

How can tech help you support individuals’ legal rights?

One often-cited reason for incorporating new tech tools into public-facing work like legal empowerment is the promise of serving more people more effectively. In their external-facing work, legal empowerment actors around the world are already incorporating publicly available mobile apps, websites, chatbots and more, aiming to better serve their clients. Based on research we carried out looking at organisations across the globe, we found organisations using tech tools to:

  • Help people diagnose their legal problems themselves, or to assess their entitlement to benefits or legal assistance
  • Provide people with legal information that is easier to understand and access, or that is customised to their specific needs
  • Support people through processes such as representing themselves or resolving disputes, including by generating legal documents and providing connections to people or organisations who can assist

These opportunities hold huge potential for legal empowerment organisations to accelerate and strengthen their work. You can read more about how others have been doing this so far in our research report, or if you’d like to talk over a question, idea, proposal or potential project in this area – reach out to us!

Sound interesting? Get in touch!

Perhaps you have found that some of these findings are similar to what you are experiencing. If so, we would love to hear from you and see if Light Touch Support could be helpful to you.

Some ways that we could work together include:

  • Making connections between your idea and existing platforms that might be able to support or complement your work. We will leverage on our research, which includes a landscape scan of organizations and platforms in this space.
  • Helping you make more realistic time and cost plans for introducing or designing a new tool to your organisation or process.
  • Increasing your knowledge and intuition on how to engage with developers – learn what to keep an eye out for as you work with others to implement a new tool.
  • Providing responsible data support – for example, by identifying clients or communities that you serve who might face higher risks than others, and designing processes that keep that in mind.

To set up an appointment, please visit Calendly and book time with us. If you have any questions, get in touch with Lesedi:

Image by Hans M via Unplash.