Bridging Technology and the Law: An Exclusive Interview with Innovator and LawBot Founder, Alexandra.

“Already, there are flourishing tech collaborations within the financial, health and education sectors, but very little is known or understood about the legal sector and its needs.”

1. Who is Alexandra?

Alexandra Kamatsiko is the founder of LawBOT initiative a tech law initiative at Makerere University. She is a technophile,innovator and a feminist.

Alexandra a student of law at Makerere University is partly involved in legal aid volunteering and is an ardent proponent of womens rights and rights of vulnerable populations. Alexandra is vivacious person who outside her professional enjoys going dancing with friends, classical art and has been recognized for exceptional theatrical skills.

2. What is LawBot?

LawBOT is a tech law initiative that was founded by Alexandra Kamatsiko and co-founder Kaddu Suubi Jeffrey, both students of law at Makerere University and Law Development Centre respectively.

LawBOT (an acronynm for Law Based On Technology) is a tech law initiative that was founded earlier this year at Makerere University school of law by that engages students to put their study of the law to creative use so as to solve and create avenues that ease justice delivery through technology.

Our vision is to sync technology with contemporary legal education The LawBOT mission reflects on this vision that is that is to to bridge the gaps between contemporary legal education and practice through creation enhancement of student initiatives and through provision of platforms that drive legal tech needs.

Lawbot runs a blog that occasionally publishes articles on student views reflecting the impact of technology on the practice and study of law, (http://maklawbot.com) and our twitter page (@LawBOT Makerere).

The LawBot Team comprising of student lawyers cuts cake at one of events.
The LawBot Team shares a cake moment.

3. What challenges or obstacles did you have at the start?

There have  been very few challenges in the setup of LawBOT as we planned it mericulously and this drove us to the right direction and the right avenues to achieve the LawBOT objectives. The challenge stands mainly in integrating LawBOT programs with students curriculum. Many of the conferences and the project activities are likely to be set back by the school calendar and the other overlapping school sessions and this a stumbling block in student engagement.

Another issue would be with the under exposure of students to the need for technology in improving the needs of the legal sector given they are operating in a vacuum of information and a syllabus that is not up to date with such needs (which is the reason LawBOT was started, because equity will not suffer a wrong without a remedy).

4. How does LawBot operate?

◦ Through meaningful partnerships, we have established projects that equip students with up to date solutions to evolving legal problems through hands on learning experiences that streamline traditional and contemporary methods of study, research and analysis.

◦ We create awareness on little known areas of tech law impacts through programs and events intended to stimulate students to reason creatively and independently in curbing liability arising from technological advancements. This is through linking tech ethusiastic law students with our partners and with established tech hubs and encouraging participation in hackathons and think tank exercises that are held around the various tech hubs.

◦ Through training and workshops the students will be better equipped to reach out to various other legal scholars in areas of digital legal migration till it is incorporated into the various legal education modules.

5. What is your biggest achievement so far?

LawBOT has held two successful events at Makerere Law School resultant from a partnership with Vision Afrika a German Organization.

LawBOT held the first and inaugural tech moot at the Makerere University School of Law, the moot question majorly concerned itself with the complexities of advanced tech systems such as autonomous weapons systems and concepts regarding data and privacy and how all these concepts interact with the different fields of law such as human rights, product liability, and Social Justice mechanisms.

LawBOT also held the Tech-Law Conference. The conference featured seasoned experts at technology and the law, Kenneth Muhangi from KTA advocates, Alice Namuli Blazevic from Katende Sempebwa & Co. Advocates, Linda Alinda Ikanza of Nkola App and Daniel Bill Opio. Keynote speakers were tasked with discussing the integration of technology into contemporary legal education. The conference was a coordinated effort by the LawBOT initiative and its partners, Kampala Legal Hackers, KATS Legal Department and Global Hackathon and doubled as the pre-event for the Global Legal Hackathon.

LawBOT has also been involved in various discussions and online engagements on how to  ease access to justice through digital means and technological advancements. As a startup,the pages of our success stories are still largely unwritten but the struggle continues.

The Tech-Law Conference 2020 held at Makerere University.
The Tech-Law Conference 2020 held at Makerere University.

6. What opportunities do you see for the African youth?

The fourth industrial revolution is making itself felt across the continent through the rise of technological innovation and this directly correlates and affects students as prospective practitioners, legislators amongst others.

The disruption of sectors and industries through the application of new technologies presents opportunities for the legal education sector and the  profession due to a growing need for new regulatory and legislative frameworks within which new services can operate and thrive. 

Data protection and privacy legislation, for example, is one area of great need across the continent especially if studied and assessed at legal education grassroots.

Law students have the skills and to shape and influence public policy and regulation and create a facilitating environment for tech entrepreneurism to flourish.

Lawyers and tech companies who are keen on developing and using technology and legal tech, in particular engage youths as they are very open minded and adaptive in sourcing innovative solutions to modern legal problems.

Many tech entrepreneurs are also keen on building links across the continent that will facilitate connections with law firms and investors and collaborations with counterparts in Africa and they need research and analysis on how to achieve that, students are key in these engagements as they inject new ideas engaging the contemporary legal trends to produce reliable and up to date solutions.

Already, there are flourishing tech collaborations within the financial, health and education sectors, but very little is known or understood about the legal sector and its needs. If tech trends are incorporated in legal study at universities, through research and analysis then youths are provided opportunities to participate and propel changes caused by these disruptions resultant in the fourth industrial revolution.

7. What are your future prospects? 

LawBOT looks at expanding our moot competitions to a more global level to engage and share our experiences and determine how to bridge gaps in legislative frameworks while simultaneously making meaningful connections for students with students that share similar interests of incorporating technology with access to contemporary justice needs.

Another prospect is to create wider platforms both regionally and globally  that engage student ventures, projects and innovations so as to create exposure in various aspects and share how to incorporate the same in our legal frameworks and sectors that employ tech law. This is through partnerships that would enable students access  scholarship opportunities, participation in legal hackathons and competitions that are innovation centric.

We would like to have a resource center where students can get full time access to different ICT media so as to fuel research and ease academics and improve efficiency and proficiency in solving academic and in crafting innovative legal tech solutions.

We are currently partnering with different entities to actualise some of these ideas and the enthusiasm students are displaying is a great response to the success of this initiative and several others like it.

 

For more information on LawBot, reach out to Alexandra at akamatsiko@gmail.com.

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