Law News
‘Owerri 2014: Why legal practice must be digitalized’

Olu Olugasa, an Engineer, is the managing director of Law Pavilion, a sprawling information technology outfit digitizing the law related processes and documents in the country and beyond. He had a session with journalists in Owerri during the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) AGC, which took place between Sunday, August 24 to Friday, August 29, at Imo International conference Centre, Owerri. Charles Ogugbuaja, was at the briefing. 

Excerpts:

 Why is your company exhibiting at Owerri NBA AGC?

WE are here on our capacity as the official ICT partner of the NBA. The essence is really what drives the adoption of the ICT in the legal industry in Nigeria. And remember from the description I gave, globally, actually, the industry, the adoption of ICT has increased productivity by 400 per cent, but by recent research, over 52 per cent Nigerian lawyers is yet to embrace ICT. If you look at E –mail of Nigerian Lawyers, over 85 per cent of Nigerian Lawyers still use yahoo, and we are still wondering, how will serious multi- national converse with them; how will they communicate with them by e- mail, using yahoo. It does not show a good brand, a high level of professionalism.

These are the things we are trying to make sure that the trend in Nigeria’s legal industry, the offspring we are bringing is really the thing. Number one, we did research and we looked at the issue being on the adoption of ICT in Nigerian legal industry. We have identified them as, one, power supply, the second one is non ICT skill and the third one is the cost of acquiring the technology.

The Law Pavilion partnering with the NBA will make some distinct with all these challenges. So, at this event, we launched what we called tabloidtarization campaign and we want to tabloidtirize the practice. Like Samsung Galaxy, I- Pad, and advise every lawyer in Nigeria to have this and drive it extensively in the industry.

And we are planning to do this local and international.

With the tabloidtarization campaign, the issue of power supply, for example, will no longer stop lawyers from adopting ICT, because most of these tabloids, Samsun Galaxy, for example, can stay seven to eight, 10 hours without electricity light.

Apart from that, the issue of ICT knowledge gap is also difficult. At this juncture, we have unveiled our new android app. Such that as long as you can use a mobile phone, you can use electronic law reform management system. The android phone makes it so easy for lawyers. So the issue of having to learn how to use computer is already out of it because we ‘ve removed the learning cost.

With android device mouse now, lawyers and judges can write on it and the computer automatically transcribes it and types it for them. So the computer, complexity in the adoption of ICT is already eliminated and this will go ahead to make it seemless in operation.

What is the cost effectiveness of this device

We also unveiled the low cost at this conference so that the three thousand naira and three months for ten thousand naira, so that every lawyer pays for three months, ten thousand naira, every lawyer in Nigeria can have access to a complete library of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judgments from 1970 to date. The issue is then, what can stop Nigerian Lawyer from accepting ICT?

What then can stop any Nigerian Judge from adopting ICT? We are really perturbed that the rate is slow pace of administration of justice in Nigeria. We are consistently trying our best to ensure that we employ the best ICT tool that is applicable in all developed world, bringing them into Nigeria to ensure that the legal industry is well equipped to speed up processes.

 What is the advocacy in the legal ICT industry

I will like to say, we are working closely with Samsung to unveil public support for young lawyers and we enjoin all senior lawyers to take the advantage of this rare opportunity to empower their juniors. In everything worldwide, emphasis is on leadership such that the leader is only at the front as support structure and saying at this time that, it is high time senior lawyers refrain from seeing their juniors as apprentice instead they should see them as their support structure that need to be empowered, motivated and need to be tooled. Otherwise, they will find themselves practising what they call management by shouting. You see seniors shouting at their juniors. This does not make good relationship. If they are properly equipped, if they are properly empowered, they will even surpass their seniors.

Furthermore, we are saying that we have new management system. We released it last year, but we are adding a new version this year and it is court room proceeding. The new version, what it does is that, it enables seniors, it enables lawyers communicate to team members while in or out of court.

The court room proceeding life chart will ensure senior legal expertise is available to their team across board, for example, I have a chart that have a message that a junior quickly sends a message to the senior……should I ask for adjournment? The senior quickly responds, saying no… quoting section 13 A of Lagos State tenancy law 2011.

Right from there, you can monitor all proceedings. You make it so easy.

We are not only the ICT partner in this NBA conference, but we seem to be the ICT partner of every lawyer in this country and we can say Law Pavilion, brings premium digital experience in telling the lawyers that they have been given the best and therefore, they deserve the best.

We have worked extensively to ensure that we give them the best platform that is available anywhere in the world and that is why they need to go for premium package. We have been in all places in Nigeria.

We are the official electronic law report of 17 states’ judiciary, Court of appeal, Industrial Court, Federal courts now came on board. We are extensively cited in 16 courts, Court of appeal and LPLR. We have been partnering with Court of Appeal since 2012. We are the only paginated and paragraphed law report in Nigeria, which is 45 citations. We have started to partner with the NBA, providing them with free internet access, we give them flash drive in Nigeria legal space. What we are saying is that every smart lawyer deserves a tablet.

I cite Lord Denin “If you never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere but law will stand while the rest of the world go on…”

We are planning to launch training campaign for every lawyer in Nigeria, after this conference, we will be going round branches to see branch chairmen and secretaries on the adoption of ICT and help them acquire this to help them compete and be at per with their colleagues in other developed places.

Are you aspiring to match any world brand

I can easily say yes, but we are not aspiring to be like any world brand. We want to be the world brand. We want to empower Nigerian lawyers to have legal expertise, even outside this country. In the next few months, we are going to set up branches outside the shores of Nigeria. We have supplied law report outside this country, Court of Appeal of Gambia, South Africa to be precise. Outside the country, they have been demanding our products. I am sure, we will be registering with the U. S. very soon. But in all honestly, we want to be the global brand. We want to be in IPA. We are the third African country to exhibit in the IPA. In Turkey, we will be there by God‘s grace. We are planning to export technology. We are intelligent Nigerians I believe. Whatever the Chinese, Americans can do, we can do also. We want to be the global brand so that others will copy. It is a matter of time.  We are the first law publishing organization to have our product on the IPAD.