The Workchop Conversation with Eliz’beth Layeni, Associate Counsel, The Longe Practice Advisory

The Workchop Conversations is an ongoing series of conversations with different players in both the law, tech & justice tech space, sharing about their work and innovative role within the space, promoting access to justice in Africa.

This week, we have Eliz’beth Layeni, an Associate Counsel at The Longe Practice Advisory She is self-driven, a tech-enthusiast who loves researching emerging areas of law and believes in the power of technology to create impactful solutions and contribute to a country’s development. She also has keen interest in cybersecurity, data protection and privacy, intellectual property law, and corporate legal practice.

Could you share your journey into tech lawyering? Were there any pivotal moments?

I knew that in my penultimate year in the University, I had keen interest in Cyber Law. This was not too long following the enactment of the Nigerian Cyber Act 2015. At that time, my perspective of the tech-law ecosystem was very limited and for all I knew, I wanted to be a lawyer that protected the digital and cyber rights of citizens. But taking CISCO courses on cybersecurity and working with key players like Ridwan Oloyede and Mallick Bolakale gave me a clearer picture that there was so much that one could do as a lawyer in the tech ecosystem

What does your role at The Longe Practice Advisory entail?

As an Associate Counsel with TLP Advisory, I typically help startups and entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their business to be in compliance with the laws and regulations of any jurisdictions they intend to set up in. My role entails providing general advice on compliance matters and advising investors on the best possible means of structuring their investment securities. I also draft and review legal documents just like every other lawyer and advise on fundraising and perform other company secretarial functions.

Could you share a few tips that has helped in your journey so far? Any particular advice to law school aspirants?

Almost everything is an endless learning curve. You realize that the more you open up yourself to learning, the little you know. For me, I tried to take up courses and internship placements that revolved around my area of interest. Having a mentor or some sort sort of guidance as you grow cannot be overemphasized. I would say that budding lawyers should open up themselves to learn as much as they can in their area of interest and inclusive of your learning process is connecting with and following the activities of key players in the ecosystem you’re interested in.

What is your favorite hack for productivity?

My favorite hack(s) for productivity is having a to-do-list, enabling the work mode on my phone, and using my Google Calendar to keep track of my deadlines and activities.

What are you currently watching, listening or reading?

I am currently watching “Red Notice”, “True Story” and “The Harder They Fall”. I am not listening to anything currently, but I am reading “Camino Island” by John Grisham and “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.

Funny question, if you had to work, but you didn’t need the money, what would you do?

If I didn’t need the money but I had to work, I would travel the world journaling and still be a Technology Lawyer.

Who would you like to answer these questions?

Tojola Yusuf.

The Workchop Conversation with Ahbivardhan, Founder, Artificial Intelligence & Law

The Workchop Conversations is an ongoing series of conversations with different players in both the law, tech & justice tech space, sharing about their work and innovative role within the space, promoting access to justice in Africa.

This week, we have Abhivardhan, the Managing Partner at Indic Pacific Legal Research LLP and the Executive Director, Media, He is also the President & Managing Trustee, Global Law Assembly, the Chairperson & Managing Trustee, Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief at the Indic Journal of International Law and the Indian Journal of Artificial Intelligence & Law. He is an author, and a bilingual poet. As a policy entrepreneur, he works in the field of technology law and policy.

Could you briefly talk about your legal background and your journey into Law and AI?

I have pursued law in India. I work in the field of international technology law. As the Chairperson and Managing Trustee of the Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence & Law, I have been contributing to the research building blocks of the Indian policy consensus in technology law, especially the ethics and policy of artificial intelligence. I have worked specifically in the anthromorphic impact and value of AI systems in the field of law & international relations. I have developed the academic proposition to define AI regularization approaches, in line with India’s cultural philosophies, & in line with the economic priorities of the Indo-Pacific region, in my initial works. I am of the view that AI can be entitled with rights, hut every AI is a specie itself.

What would you say influenced your drive for Law and AI?

The fact that artificial intelligence is a comprehensive technology, covering many species of disruptive and non disruptive tech, makes me motivating to work in the field of AI and Law.

Compared to popular belief, what does “Legal research” entail? What is the nexus between Legal Research and AI?

Legal Research is not mere usage of flimsy political and legal ideas. Policy, the science of politics, which differs nationally, and often internationally, shapes legal research. Yes, there are common threads such as understanding legal methods, like drafting, rules of interpretation, the judicial and administrative machineries and so on. However, addressing substantive and operational issues, is done by understanding policy realities, and shaping the law’s interpretative position & focus in the most appropriate way. As far as AI is concerned, my interest stems up simply because there are two aspects to the answer. The first aspect is the accessibility question, which is true. AI helps in making legal method simpler and effective. However, the second aspect inspires me more. So, in general, the comprehensive legal persona of AI and its “species” inspires me more per se, which is the second nexus.

What are your predictions for Law and AI in the next 3-5 years? Do you see AI replacing lawyers in the near future?

Nothing big is expected as far as the technological evolution of AI tech is concerned. It depends as to what kind of replacement AI will do also. The myth that Artificial General Intelligence will become overreaching, is not true, because AGI would not be 1 system, but a cluster of various micro-species of what we call as AI within the scope of ML. In law, regulatory challenges emerge as usual, so manual human autonomy of lawyers, will always be needed. The best AI can do is to ease it down and make it more “technically un-superfluous”. Let us see. I see the role of AI in legal research, but not enough to replace lawyers and even judges.

How do you relax after the day’s work?

I am an avid Indo-European culture enthusiast. I hear some Carnatic, Hindustani and Slavic music. Otherwise too, I dedicate myself to some creative work, and maintain my health at my best.

Funny question, you’ve been given a yacht. What do you name it?


Who would you like to answer these questions?

Sanjay Notani, Partner at Economic Laws Practice, Dr Jeffrey Funk & Akash Manwani, Chief Innovation Consultant, ISAIL.

The Workchop Conversation with Mary Clains Tino, Program & Community Manager at the World Legal Summit & Program Lead at the Africa Innovation Law & Tech Academy

The Workchop Conversation with Mary Clains Tino, Program & Community Manager at the World Legal Summit & Program Lead at the Africa Innovation Law & Tech Academy

The Workchop Conversations is an ongoing series of conversations with different players in both the law, tech & justice tech space, sharing about their work and innovative role within the space, promoting access to justice in Africa.

For this week, we have Mary Clains Tino, the Program and Community Manager at the World Legal Summit. She serves as the Program Lead at the Africa Innovation Law & Tech Academy (Online) and Operations Manager at Legal Innovation Hub.
Currently, she is student pursuing a Bachelor of Laws Degree at Makerere University where she serves as the Vice President of the Rule of Law Club. Clains is a member of the African Law & Tech Network, Kampala Legal Hackers and Mountain Club of Uganda.

Tell us briefly about your journey into tech and law. What spurred your interest?

Before joining university, I interacted with Bitland Uganda, a blockchain powered land registry system and was amazed by the tremendous potential of this initiative and other emerging technologies. Through the Coffee With Alice mentorship program, I learned and was intrigued by the legal and regulatory issues pertaining to such emerging technologies.
This curiosity pushed me to pursue courses on EdX and to attend numerous conferences on this topic. I seek to continue to cultivate my knowledge and interest in this field.

Could you share a bit about your role as a Program and Community Manager at the World
Legal Summit? If you could describe what you do in three (3) words, what would it be?

The World Legal Summit is a multi-party initiative which brings jurisdictions and communities together in exploring the development of legislative frameworks for emerging technologies.
My role includes; relationship/event management, research, social outreach and engagement. If I had to choose three words to describe my role, I would pick; collaboration, media and research.

Could you describe the state of the tech and law ecosystem in Africa and where it could be in the next five (5) years? What would be your advice to those looking to break into the space?

The tech and law ecosystem in Africa is growing exponentially. LegalTech products, innovation to foster best practices, communities and new laws to regulate the emerging technologies are all coming in due time. In the next five years, I believe that we will be more receptive to technologies like virtual reality in the Legal space. We have moved into the most technological decade due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The judiciary and academia will be more engaged and involved in the
tech and law ecosystem in Africa. I would advise anyone looking to break into the space to definitely go for it, self-educate, get
mentors, volunteer, join existing communities and prioritize lifelong learning.

Could you share what your roles at the Africa Innovation Law & Tech Academy and Legal Innovation Hub involve? What apps or systems do you use to ensure your productivity?

I lead the teams at the Africa Innovation Law & Tech Academy (AILTA) and Legal Innovation Hub (LIH). The Academy provides legal knowledge and professional skills required to understand the relationship between the law, technology and innovation. The Hub fosters innovation in the legal profession and enhances the mode of delivering legal services and access to justice. My roles include; organizing hackathons, conferences, design, research and public relations.

My favorite go-to apps for work are Google workspace, Canva, Buffer and Asana. When working, I encourage collaboration, learning and niche identification. These are systems we have in place to ensure productivity.

How do you recharge or take a break? What do you spend time doing aside from work?

I take nature walks and recently took an interest in rock climbing. I am always on a lookout for new adventures. I read story books with children through community book clubs which share the beauty of storytelling.

Funny question, if you had to work, but you didn’t need the money, what would you do?

I would stick to my current work which is centered around Law, Technology and Education. I realized that I work best when I am doing something I love and creating change and that’s what I am doing now.

Who would you like to answer these questions?
Alice Namuli Blazevic, Partner at Katende Ssempebwa & Co Advocates and Hannah Gannyana, Lead Organizer of Kampala Legal Hackers.

The Workchop Conversation with June Okal, Legal Advisor & Co-Organizer, Legal Hackers

The Workchop Conversation with June Okal, Legal Advisor & Co-Organizer, Legal Hackers

The Workchop Conversations is an ongoing series of conversations with different players in both the law, tech & justice tech space, sharing about their work and innovative role within the space, promoting access to justice in Africa.

For this week, we have June Okal, a legal professional with years of experience mitigating legal risk and advising Government State Corporations as well as high value global clients on Intellectual Property, Technology, Telecommunications and Media transactions as well as In House Counsel supporting a trillion dollar leading technology company’s operations across fifty one countries in Sub Saharan Africa.

Tell us briefly how the transition was, from being a counsel to working with different organizations like ARTICLE 19 and Legal Hackers, Kenya. Was there anything particular that spurred the move?

I wouldn’t say it was a move per se as all the roles are related and in the field of Technology, Media. and Telecommunications. I have always wanted to have some across the board experience in the industry in order to appreciate the unique challenges and nuances in each. For instance, I started work in tech policy at the equivalent of an ICT Department, but for the Government of Kenya supporting in setting up ICT Standards to be adopted, then worked at the Copyright regulator where we ratified rules on copyright exemptions for the visually challenged as well as introducing the first Kenyan legal instrument on intermediary liability, then engaged at a leading Think Tank that seeks to catalyze ICT reforms through a multistakeholder approach, to offering legal and regional client advisory at a boutique and specialist TMT law firm, to setting up the office and helping protect clients IP for one of the largest IP firms globally, shifting to a big tech service provider interfacing with a user base of +1B and then to a passive infrastructure telecommunications provider and currently at ARTICLE 19 where we advocate for freedom of expression and information, with a focus on the Domain Name System. The transition at each point has been exciting, some more seamless than others, but because the foundation is the same, it is simpler to build upon it.

What does your role as an Internet of Rights Fellow at ARTICLE 19 entail? Could you tell us a bit about ARTICLE 19, what it is about and who it is for?

As an Internet of Rights Fellow, I’m part of the International team at ARTICLE 19. Since 2014, ARTICLE 19 has been a pioneer in introducing and strengthening human rights considerations in the design, development, and deployment of Internet infrastructure by participating in global Internet governance bodies where technical standards and policy development happens. The main goal is to protect and promote freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, and other human rights in key Internet technical standards and policy bodies. 

Under the Business and Human Rights track which I work under, my mentor Ephraim Kenyanito and I actively engage within the Internet Governance ecosystem, particularly at the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). At ICANN, we monitor policy development processes and drafting of policies which outline how the internet as a public resource is managed and we advocate for the upholding and respect of Freedom of Expression and Information.  

With your work experiences from being an In-house counsel to a TMT lawyer, IP lawyer and even as co-organizer at Legal Hackers Kenya, what one experience has shaped you so far? Could you share any major advice for lawyers and other players in the legal industry?

When I was in my first year of uni, one of our lecturers, Ms. Pamela Ager asked us to read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm speaks of the 10,000 hour rule for anyone to be good at what they do. She emphasized the need for us to stand out from the pack, the Kenya School of Law for instance, churns about 2000 students each year. Kenya’s bar association has over 14,000 advocates, the question then is, how do you differentiate yourself from the pack. Focus on that and be excellent at it.

What is that one problem if, given the chance, you would like to solve within your industry?

Cross functional collaboration. Having worked at different stakeholder groups, I have come to appreciate the varied interests that each has and seeks to protect. While there is some level of cross functional and multi stakeholder engagement, with increased trust, goodwill and a collaborative spirit, a lot more can be achieved in the ecosystem.

Walk us through a typical workday. How do you keep track of what you have to do?

I’m currently taking a gap ‘month’ off active work at the moment – which I think is highly underrated. Having the space to rest and rejuvenate allows you to take a step back, have a breather and re-evaluate your life choices, align priorities and set new ones. I now go with the flow. But resources that have greatly helped me in the past are Calendar bocking, to assign and block out time in the course of the day, having two notebooks – a day to day diary highlighting what needs to be done for each day and another to note down all tasks that are to be done regardless of urgency and timeline, and then checking off both lists of gradually.

What is that one ideology that you don’t agree with?

That we should all be entrepreneurs. For a long time this narrative has been pushed across all sectors for the youth. We do not all need to start businesses, if we do, where will the resource base come from but more importantly it is possible for one to be passionate about an entrepreneur’s dream and there is nothing wrong with that. According to Investopedia, for instance, in 2019, the failure rate of startups was around 90%. Research concluded that 21.5% of startups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in their 10th year. Among other reasons of course, for me, I think that narrative is partially to blame.

What artist do you listen to the most? What is your favourite music app?

Sauti Sol without a doubt. App – Deezer. While I know many may disagree and go with Apple Music, Spotify and SoundCloud, I really, really like Deezer, I think their AI/ML software is very good at gauging/reading the mood and auto playing related genres and similar songs.

Funny question, what is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

I kept waiting for something funny to happen to me for weeks, lol. I’m rather surprised at the power of social media, it’s reach and how it’s changing the power of weak ties. I recently needed to offload an asset, I put it up on Instagram, and in about 10 mins it was gone, I had to delete the initial post in a matter of miniutes. I think it’s quite interesting to see that power firsthand.  

Who would you like to answer these questions? (Here, we expect that you nominate someone to answer these questions too)

Let’s start with the person responsible for bringing me into the tech space, Ms. Grace Bomu, the one responsible for my advocacy and lawyering Mr. Stephen Kiptinness, KICTANet Convenor and trailblazer in the field of ICT Policy, Grace Githaiga, my Co – Organizer at Nairobi Legal Hackers Rosemary Koech – Kimwatu, Thought leader and University Lecturer Prof. Bitange Ndemo whose way of thinking I hope to emulate, Lawyers in Technology Lean In Circle convenor Linda Anene who has found a way to bring leading female lawyers in technology in to one space, Founder and CEO of the Lawyers Hub who has built a fantastic community of lawyers and techies, Linda Bonyo, my seniors and kickass tech lawyers Nzilani Mweu and Mutindi Muema and talented young lawyer Sumaiyah Omar whose future is much brighter than she even knows.

The Workchop Conversation with Oluwatobi Ibiyemi, Tech Lawyer and Associate, Lawyerpp

The Workchop Conversation with Oluwatobi Ibiyemi, Tech Lawyer and Associate, Lawyerpp

The Workchop Conversations is an ongoing series of conversations with different players in both the law, tech & justice tech space, sharing about their work and innovative role within the space, promoting access to justice in Africa.

For this week, we have Oluwatobi Ibiyemi, a Nigerian Lawyer with in-depth experience in Legal Tech, Data Privacy Protection, Business Development, Product Management, Regulatory Compliance, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Legal Thinking and Legal Design. He is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators and possesses a Google Certification in Digital Skills. Oluwatobi is an Associate, Legal & Innovations at LAWYERPP LegalTech Limited and the Head of Operations at PhoneFlag Limited, and StartUP Life. He is currently an MBA candidate specialised in Advanced Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Automation at Nexford University, USA.

Tell us briefly about yourself, your journey into tech and law and what spurred that interest.
My interest in Tech bubbled up after the completion of my LL.B program in 2019. I discerned that I have
always been a sucker for getting things done seamlessly, and technology consistently provides this for me.
I have an older sibling who majors in Cybersecurity, and he mentored me on how to transition into the tech
space. I took an interest in the Python programming language.
My transition into the Tech space started off the back of a course – Computer Science for Lawyers – that I
took on edX, tutored by lecturers from Harvard during the total lockdown in 2020. A month before my
Call=to=Bar, I got a job in a Legal Tech Firm, where I had to wear many hats within a short period. The joy of
watching UI/UX designers express your thought process on Figma whilst developers implement these
designs and watching millions of users use the solution in real-time cemented my transition into the tech

As an Associate at Lawyerpp, what does your job entail?
I have been part of the Legal & Innovations Team at LAWYERPP LegalTech Limited since 2019. The
difference between working in a startup and a long-standing organisation is crystal clear. I joined
LAWYERPP LegalTech Limited in its early days, which has seen me take on several roles in the design,
development, and deployment of the company’s flagship mobile and web app solution called LAWYERPP.
The flagship solution affords Lawyers with the tools to run virtual law firms, amongst other functionalities.
The Panic Button feature allows your emergency contact(s) to track your movement in real-time via a map
should you ever be in an emergency.
The need for a subject matter expert at the intersection of Law and Tech to develop a product that both
Lawyers and an everyday person can use whilst operating within the ambits of the law formed the core of my job role . My responsibilities cut across Product Management, Business Development, and Legal
Advisory. I ensure the smooth transition of the ideas of the management into their implementation by the
tech team and onward transmission to the end-users. I would say the majority of what I do was learned on
the job and through personal development. It has not been a piece of cake, but it has been fun!

Combining your roles as an Associate with the other things you do, how do you stay productive and still not feel overwhelmed? What is your approach to problem-solving?
Transitioning to remote work was a game-changer for me. Working from home helped in the effective
organisation and management of my schedule. I concurrently run my MBA program and a course on data
protection. To remain productive, I carved out a dedicated workstation with a notepad detailing my tasks for
the day and a timeline assigned to each task. I always tick off each completed task to create a sense of
progress for myself. I endeavour to stick to these timelines, although I make them flexible enough
depending on what needs to get prioritised. I also make sure I take a recess at intervals whenever I feel a
mental block.
My approach to abstract problems has always been critical thinking. I believe there is always a smart and
less stressful way to do things. I usually approach a problem using the worst-case scenario. It allows me to
anticipate possible outcomes whilst proffering the solution to the primary problem.

What advice would you have given yourself at the start of your career?
Luck is only an opportunity taken by the most prepared person in the room. Education gets you to the door,
but connections often get you into the room. Go out more often – given that I’m an introvert – and
strategically place yourself to meet the right people. Up your value twice, and then put a tax on it when
negotiating your worth.

What was your biggest misconception about legal innovation before you got into the space?
After my call-to-bar and transition into the legal tech space, I ignorantly believed that Lawyers must learn
how to code. This was my excuse for learning just enough about the python programming language.
However, I soon realised that the legal tech space is wide enough to accommodate Lawyers without any
coding background to play vital roles in legal innovation. These roles include privacy managers, legal
solutions architects, and non-technical project managers, amongst others.
Of course, I wouldn’t discourage lawyers from coding. Be my guest if you have a flair for it. I can do a bit of
Object-Oriented Programming myself. However, you can function effectively in the legal tech space without
any coding knowledge.

Lawyers are more often than not resistant to change and risk-averse. How do you get them to see the value of a legal tech tool?
In retrospect, I had a conversation with a colleague whilst in Law School on the viability of law firms
performing their internal operations remotely and without the usage of papers. He believed it wasn’t
possible. Of course, the only way to convince him was to provide an example of a law firm operating fully
remotely, which unfortunately I couldn’t provide at the time.
Lawyers are factfinders and rarely base decisions on opinions. The best way to convince lawyers to accept
change is to make them see the value it brings to their practice. A few years back, lawyers would prefer to
go to the library to read law reports. However, there are numerous e-law reports that lawyers subscribe to today without much persuasion. So, I simply explain the value proposition of the product or change to the
practice of law by the lawyer so that he can adapt to such changes.

What would you never be caught doing on a weekend? How do you take a break after a long day at work?
“Never to be caught unfresh” lol. I enjoy playing video games on my weekends, especially Call of Duty. I
play with a brain-training app on my phone that also helps with my concentration level. Ultimately, my
weekends are for catching up on personal projects.

Funny question, someone gives you an elephant. You can’t sell it or give it away. What
do you do with the elephant?

Hmm, tricky question. At the risk of sounding too technical, I would not accept your elephant because I do
not have the knowledge nor technical know-how to tend to it. After all, the question does not force me to
accept the elephant but says I can’t give it away or sell it. It was never mine. The implication is that as a
manager, not every deal should be consented to.
However, to answer the question literally, I would hire a professional to take care of the elephant whilst it is
still in my possession.

Who would you like to answer these questions?
Endurance Agbor & Onyinye Ojukwu