Ope Olugasa, Law Pavillion

As lawyers and judges embrace information technology in their professional engagements, electronic law reporting is gradually gaining more acceptability in the legal profession.

Pioneer e law reporting firm, Law Pavillion is poised to provide the latest technology that will go a long way in enhancing the efficiency of legal practitioners and judicial officers. In this interview, Law Pavillion Managing Director Mr Ope Olugasa, spoke on the importance of e law reporting to the justice sector and other related issues.

Excerpts.

Law pavilion has dedicated a lot of resources to train Judges in the use of Technology in the performance of their duties. Having conducted these trainings across several States of the Federation, what has been the attitude of Judges and the Legal industry at large?

Indeed, we have expended a lot of resources, both human and financial to advocate for the adoption of technology by all stakeholders in the Legal Services and Administration of Justice sectors. By God’s grace, we have successfully trained Justices of the Court of Appeal across all divisions, High Court Judges of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun and several other states which time would not permit us to go into full details.

We have also collaborated with some branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to train legal practitioners on the use of Law Pavilion especially and we are pleased with the response we have received over the years since we started. However, there is still so much more to be done in the areas of enlightening even more Judiciaries and legal practitoners about the immense and incomparable benefits of adopting technology in the provision of legal services.

For those we have trained, we do not relent in carrying out follow up programs and plans are underway to do more of follow-up in the coming year. With regards to training outcomes, the trainings have benefitted participants immensely, touching all end-users the Judges, the Magistrates, Lawyers, Solicitors and Law students etc. A recurring feedback has been that LawPavilion has changed their lives and they really wonder how they were able to cope without our products. This is especially so for those who have LawPavilion products before or after the training. They have been able to derive maximum benefits from the use of our flagship LawPavilion Electronic Legal Research software.

Our initial series of trainings also influenced our decision to introduce LawPavilion on smaller mobile devices such as the iPad and Android devices. We discovered that by the nature of what Judges and Legal Practitioners do, a significant amount of flexibility and portability is required to enable them derive maximum advantage from the use of LawPavilion and this is best achieved by accessing the software on our iPad and Android versions. A good number of our Judge subscribers have told us in confidence that they have been able to deliver more Bench rulings because of the availability of LawPavilion on devices like the iPad and Android.

How do you assess the success of the training of Judges?

The trainings have been quite successful, I must confess. Even if not immediately resulting in financial gains, we have witnessed policies and directives lending enormous credence to our advocacy propagated through our trainings for Judges and Legal practitioners. I will therefore say Rome was not built in a day. We are not solely focused on profitability in the immediate, so we know that we cannot make all the profit in one day. For us, it is a long term investment, which needs time to grow before it begins to yield, so we operate with the “farmer’s mentality”.

However, we are quick to point out that because our trainings for Judges and Legal Practitioners are free,if we had a better structure in our society perhaps Government at various levels or donor organizations could have assisted in bearing the huge costs of providing such trainings across the Federation. Yet, enlightening the Legal Services Industry about adopting and using Technology in the administration of justice is a passion for us at LawPavilion, so we keep on doing it without being discouraged, knowing full well that the investment would yield returns at the end of the day.

Why do you think the Legal Industry should embrace e-Law reporting?

I prefer to look at this question from the perspective of what is happening around the world. There is hardly any sector that hasn’t been touched significantly by Technology, in fact new sectors have been created and how society functions now is so different from what obtained just 10 years ago principally because of the impact of Technology on all spheres of human existence. So to me, the impact of information and communication technology on human existence, is akin to a Tsunami, either you willingly go with the flow or get swept away by it.

Now in response to your question about why the legal services industry should embrace e-law reporting, I will propose a few reasons. First is ease and speed of access to decided cases. Through our interaction with Judges of various courts, and going by our records of cases that we receive from the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases emanating from the Courts. Our model allows us to be able whatever is destroyed is lost forever.

But with LawPavilion, there are multiple back up servers containing and preserving our contents so that no matter what, our subscribers are never at a loss. Lastly, I would like to also say that another reason for adopting e-law reporting is the all important attribute of efficiency. It is no brainer that the contest of the 21st Century is not a contest of strength evidenced by physical exertion and hardwork, rather it is a contest for working smart, using smart tools to achieve exceptional results whilst still having timeto pursue other interests. As i stated earlier, many of our subscribers have attested to the fact that using LawPavilion has helped them to do much more in less time than before.

It is good that LawPavilion is bringing Information Technology into the Legal Profession. As you had earlier mentioned that it is a Tsunami. Do you see your role as more of Complimentary to hard copy law reporting?

Well, when I mentioned that it was a Tsunami, it was to illustrate the pervasive nature of modern technology. In some ways, the role played by LawPavilion Electronic Legal Research toolis complimentary, yet not completely complimentary because the rules of engagement in the industry are changing and giving more prominence to electronic legal research resources, of which LawPavilion is a frontrunner. If you do a comparison between Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, it is obvious that Wikipedia has overtaken the Encyclopedia.

Which category of people in the legal prefession, would you say have embraced your product LawPavilion the most?

Naturally, you would expect that the young lawyers would embrace it more, however, many of them do not have the financial capacity but we have created more pocket friendly versions of our products to accommodate Young Lawyers. Surprisingly though, many very Senior and experienced Legal Practitioners and Judges have embraced our products. In fact a Judge, who is elderly, still called me up recently and expressed his love for the product as that is what he uses. So from the highest cadre, to the lowest, they have all embraced it, most especially the judiciary at the Federal and State level.

I’m sure you are aware of the new e-Service of Court processes. What do you think about it? How can LawPavilion be a part of that? Have you also tried to train the members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)?

We are always available for training and we have trained some at the branch level. A couple of NBA Branch Chairmen have called us for trainings and we have also been at all the Law school campuses to train the Law School students. We also participate in seminars or workshops organized by the NBA Section on Legal Practice (SLP). We are always available, subject to invitation to come and train them. On e-Service of court processes, I think it is a welcome development for this country as we need to start believing in ourselves as a country.

Nothing is impossible and we are always ready for new heights.

It was in anticipation of a situation like this directive from the Supreme Court that had motivated us to develop our Court Management System, about two years ago. The Court Management Solution is a very robust solution and we have integrated aspects of e-service into it. Not only that, through our Court Management Solution, Judges and Judicial Officers can proactively manage their courts and matters pending before the Court.

We have also included the National Judicial Council (NJC) Performance Evaluation Form into the Court Management Solution. So we have the competence and expertise to assist any Court that approaches us in this regard. We are available to work on this with any willing Court or Court administration. In fact, this directive is a further testament to our vigorous campaign for adoption of technology in the industry and we are very glad about the directive. We hope that all stakeholders would cooperate to make the operation realistic and seamless.

What is your vision?

To be the most cited, authoritative Law report and Technology Partner to the legal services industry in Africa by 2025. We are not just focused on Nigeria alone, we are looking at Africa as our chief focus.

How do you report conflicting Court decisions when you are reporting?

This is a very serious issue which we have also observed over the years that we have been in the industry. Thus, our new product to be launched takes adequate care of this lingering issue of conflicting judgments. The new product also goes further to highlight cases that corroborate the case under review and other indices are also provided. A lot of work has gone into this new product which we will unveil soon by God’s grace. It is indeed a revolution in how legal research will be conducted.

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