Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
1. Data: Making its presence felt in the legal system
Big data lies at the very core of the practice of law. Digitization, organization, and synthesis of legal data can radically increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency within the field. We are witnessing many applications of legal and judicial data such as case management, practice management, fraud prevention, prison reform, and improvements in court processes. This keeps out the promise of being complete game-changers for the legal industry. There is an uphill momentum to shift from experience-driven policy reform to data-driven policy reform.
2. Colleges as hubs: The sooner, the better
26 of the 166 competing initiatives in the Agami Prize were founded whilst the founders were still in college. Despite institutional apathy – and unusual outright hostility – and a lack of resources, students are increasingly more interested in launching their own ventures. With the entrance to dedicated time, technology infrastructure, institutional encouragement, and seed financial support, law schools can grow innovation hubs for law and justice in the future. Additionally, with a pool of knowledge and immediately available young workforce, university-led innovation hubs serve as a smart investment opportunity.
3. Non-law professionals: Making the system more inclusive
The usually opaque writing of the law and poor understanding of its systems and processes is a barrier to people from other disciplines understanding the law and legal systems, leave alone explaining their legal problems. It is in this connection that we were delighted to find healthy participation of technologists, journalists, media, finance and business professionals in the initiatives applying for the Prize. A growing number of non-law professionals are witnessing law and justice as a domain they can operate in to solve problems for social and commercial outcomes.
4. Digitization: A way of everyday functioning
The legal enterprise and systems of law and justice are still in the early stages of adopting digital tools, using digitized data, and managing professional digital characters. With the steady entry of youths into these systems, this movement is happening faster and faster. Nearly 50% of participants in the Agami Prize are using technology in a significant way, allowing previously offline work to happen digitally, such as in practice management, legal research, legal education, and case management. In the next 5 years, we expect that the sector will largely complete its transition in the digital age.
5. Citizen Participation: A Two Way Trend
The aggressive approach in the legal and justice delivery system has so far been to ‘service’ citizens. Citizens have essentially been seen as recipients who need access to legal services or other support by lawyers and other actors in the legal system. Interestingly, 17 Agami applicants see citizens as actual participants in shaping our policies and legal institutions. Their activities aim to engage citizens in the lawmaking process, enable citizens to share their legal concerns, and engage in building trust-worthy state institutions. We see this as a hopeful step towards democratizing the field of law and justice.