I came across this tweet and it caught my attention with respect to the trend of Non-fungible Tokens or what you also know as NFTs. Is it another quick cash scheme or something stronger?
Okay, let’s start from the beginning. An NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, or videos. The assets are bought and sold online mostly with cryptocurrency. It is unique and easily verifiable so fake collectables cannot be created or sold because each item can be traced back to the original issuer, and your sale can make you rich.
If you are a frequent user of social media, especially Twitter (before the ban), you may have come across the memes of Osita Iheme, popularly known as Pawpaw and maybe used them as a means of expression. Anyways, the gist is PawPaw has decided to sell his works (memes) on the internet as NFTs. Memes for sale, money for bag 🙂
Back to my tweet, asides from the craze of NFT, let’s bring it home to legal technology. It occurred to me how my question in the tweet also applied to the attitude of law firms to legal technology. Is there no craze or no interest in legal tech, because they don’t understand it or they just don’t care. Is it Ignorance or Indifference or a mix of both?
Q & A with Faith Obafemi on Space Law & Blockchain
We had an interesting conversation with Faith Obafemi, the Blockchain lawyer who is also a Tech Policy Associate at the Tony BlairInstitute for Global Change.
Q: You have always been the go-to person for anything on Blockchain law, so what sparked your interest in Space Law
A: I’m still into Blockchain. I haven’t abandoned it. My main interest is actually emerging technologies and since there is more than one emerging technology, I decided to gain competence one at a time. Now that I have a foothold in Blockchain, my next area of interest is Space technologies and I got interested in it because of its futuristic potential. I’m the kind of person that likes to ensure my career stays future proof because history has shown us that humans are naturally curious and love exploring. Even now that we have finished exploring the earth, the next logical place would be the galaxy. I want to be at the frontier when things are happening, that’s the kind of person I am. When breaking into a new space, I like to link the new knowledge to an area that I am already familiar with, that way I don’t start from scratch. In this context of knowledge, I get to link my knowledge of Blockchain with Space Technology. read more on our conversation…
Problem: I saw another tweet that caught my interest. It is hard for legal beneficiaries to claim the funds of deceased parents/children in Nigerian banks. How do we make this process simpler and easier?
Solution: This is where I actually ask you what you think? Do you know anybody solving this? I would like to talk to them.
Meet Q-Soft Denovo Court Recording System, the product that converts speech to text with 90% accuracy built from a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Justice and the firm of Funmilayo Quadri & Co
LegalTech Unicorn, Clio acquires CalendarRules, a product that automates calendaring of court deadlines.
This has been a long time coming and finally, we are here. We now have a Youtube channel (actually, we have always had it, we just did not have any video up, but now we do and we will be having videos up on the channel every week).
Is there anything you would like us to talk about or questions you want us to answer, share with us by sending a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
For justice to be done in a democratic society, legal information is considered as one of its essential ingredients. Legal information is empowering for poor clients seeking access to justice, in their relationships to opponents, to lawyers and to judges. It helps clients to take control and can enhance their bargaining position and Streetlawyer Naija is working to make this possible for Nigerians.
Generally, people tend to fear what they don’t understand and that also applies to the laws of the country as well. A lot of Nigerians perceive the law as confusing and would rather not attend any court proceedings. People seem to perceive the law as confusing and would rather not have anything to do with the court, and StreetLawyer Naija is working to change that perception, as the more people understand their rights, the more the legal system gets better.
StreetLawyer Naija is a platform that started out in 2019 with the aim of enlightening and educating Nigerians of their rights in the most simplified words. The platform covers content on topics that revolve around Business Law, Cyber Law, Laws on Election, Property Law, Wills, etc
Onyinyechi Ezeoke started the platform by reaching out to lawyers within her network who wanted to be a part of the team with her. Two years down the line, StreetLawyer Naija has grown to a team of 11 lawyers who, although in active practice, are dedicated to contributing content to the platform. Currently, all lawyers on the team work as volunteers and interestingly, the team has had applications from other people that want to be a part of the team, and even on a volunteer basis. This has given a certain validation to what the team is trying to do.
On the side of feedback, the team has gotten quite a good number of positive feedback from their readers, as they get answers to their questions through the content on the platform. For instance, a good number of Nigerians do not know that there is something called the breach of promise to marry and that there are legal consequences to such breach. You cannot just promise to marry someone and then change your mind like NEPA (If you know, you know). This is not just a law in theory and StreetLawyer Naija wrote about it.
Monetization of Information…
From the beginning, the plan was never to monetize access to legal information on the platform but rather to make it a free for all. Recently, the team was able to get google adsense on the platform. With increased reach and engagement on the platform, Onyinye believes that lawyers working for StreetLawyer Naija will be able to get compensated.
StreetLawyer Naija has been on for 2 years now and in that time, the platform has been able to help answer the legal questions of a lot of Nigerians. ‘We are working on an app for StreetLawyer Naija and we intend to launch before the end of this year’, says Onyinyechi. The app will have features where users can access the services of a lawyer closest to them. The long term plan is to become the go-to platform for Nigerians to get answers to all their legal related questions around any topic.
People need to remove that idea that the law does not work. Granted that there are times when things in the system don’t go as planned, but that doesn’t invalidate the other times that the law does work. With Streetlawyer Naija, knowledge of your legal rights is going to be a click away.
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 Joseph Badru, a trained Lawyer, who has transitioned into the Tech Ecosystem to become a thorough-bred Agile Product Manager with experience in ICT4D. In the past 4 years, Joseph has successfully managed 15 Tech Products while providing innovation and digital transformation consulting services to different clients. He is always excited to engage in new challenges and build products that users love. He volunteers as the Lead Organizer for Product Tank Abuja and Abuja Legal Hackers. He is also the Host and Lead Curator of the PM Magic Podcast, where he discusses tips, tricks and strategies to get ahead in Product Management. He writes about his learnings, courses and journey regularly on LinkedIn.
Tell us briefly how the transition was, from being a lawyer to becoming immersed in the tech ecosystem, even as far as leading tech communities like Decagon and becoming a Product Manager. Was there anything in particular that spurred your interest in the tech ecosystem?
My interest in Tech started growing even before I got into Law School. I realized that all the ideas and interests that excited me had a major component of digital technology in them. I didn’t know there was such a career path called Product Management at the time, but I wanted to get into the ecosystem. Two weeks after my Bar exams, I got a job as a Brand and Communications Associate in a Tech Company, where I was required to create and devise strategies and content for oral and written communications for the Company. It was during my brief time in this role that I discovered the role of a Product Manager. It picked my interest and the rest is history. The thought of managing the process of building digital products from just ideas to live products people can use made product management so fascinating.
As a lawyer, product manager and now a COO, what would you say your greatest challenge has been? Considering how rigid the legal profession can be.
It was not easy transitioning because I was moving from a very technical role to another field that was really technical, that is, from Law into tech. I had to really learn a lot and learn on the job, I was expected to deliver as someone who already had some sort of experience and exposure. I didn’t know a lot, I had to check a lot of things on Google even during meetings but I also had really helpful colleagues who made the whole process easier even though they still used me to catch cruise.
With all your experiences from leading tech communities, being a Product manager, tech lawyer etc, what one experience would you say has shaped you so far and why?
I would say the experience I had starting a career in tech and product management, having to learn the ropes. I had really supportive colleagues, even as they knew I didn’t know a lot, they helped me through the process. Although, they could be mean a few times, lol but it was all part of an interesting moment that built a kind of foundation for all the things I have learnt so far in my journey.
You lead Product Tank Abuja and Legal Hackers Abuja, with the experiences you have, what would be your advice to lawyers interested in the tech space?
My advice to lawyers who are interested in tech would be, don’t take the backseat, don’t look it at it from the sidelines, find something to do within tech. Do your law stuff but also get real domain knowledge. Volunteer to do some things in tech, decide to learn something that may not be in your regular legal work. Stick in your head into it and understand how it all works, the process itself. Be active in tech.
What is your go-to app for staying productive?
My Go-To app for staying productive is my Google Calendar and Microsoft To-Do. They help me get work done and track my progress.
Would you either read a book or listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video? What book or podcast or YouTube video would it be?
I really love books but I have not been reading enough of them. I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos about Product Management and Faith. I also listen to Podcasts quite often.
Finally, and a funny question, if you had a time machine, would you travel to the future or back to the past? If it is the past, what would you change? If it is the future, what would you like to know?
Seeing as I already know everything that has happened in the past, I would prefer to go into the future to see my progress with my product management. I would also like to know what I eventually did with my law degree. It would be really interesting to have that kind of time machine.
Lawteract is on a mission to enable access to lawyers and legal solutions much easier, efficient and cost-effective. A digital marketplace will significantly improve and expand the delivery of legal services and Lawteract is building just that, as a mobile application. Let’s just say, like Amazon but for legal services. Taiwo Oni built Lawteract to bridge the gap between the demand for and the supply of legal services. Using Lagos as a case study for his user research, Taiwo found out that 92% of Lagosians do not have the most basic form of legal protection for various reasons including issues of proximity to law firms and the high cost of accessing legal services.
With the evolution of technology and the disruption of legal services delivery, clients can now access on-demand lawyers for their different projects and legal task. Through the Lawteract app, users get access to unique features that include : in-app chat, file sharing, services display, lawyers verification using the Supreme Court Number and NIN, This way, no one can take up a false identity of being a lawyer and it helps to eliminate quackery. Another interesting feature of the app is that clients are able to set a budget for their requested task, so lawyers can take up a client’s request if they are comfortable with the budget of the client.
The Lawteract app started out as a law blogging site in 2018, with articles on different areas of law. After his service year, Taiwo decided to upgrade the platform from just a blogging site to a place where users could search for lawyers, draft documents, and review documents. With a few challenges and good feedback, the platform evolved to a mobile app for ease of access and navigation. It is also good to note that right before the launch, the soon-to-be mobile application had about 300 clients on the waiting list. All that was left was the onboarding of lawyers to commence the process of demand meeting supply as it should be in a marketplace.
Before launching the platform, we did a beta user experience test, says Taiwo. About 50 lawyers and clients were invited to test out the platform and we got good feedback about the user interface and user experience of the app, the . The other feedback we got from the beta users was around the chat system, and we already had plans to look into that, at the time.
‘Although, we got regret mails from HiiL, that was because we were not fit for the acceleration program but for the incubation program, and not because our product concept was flawed. We see that as a win. For Google Startups for Africa, over 4000 startups applied, and we made the final 40, though not the final 15 and that’s a small win too. I am sure we will be applying at the next call for applications and we are going to break in. I am certain that we would not have been able to make the final stages of these applications if our product idea or business model was seen as flawed’, says Taiwo.
The long term game…
Lawteract is working towards building traction and once that is achieved, the company plans to launch in other countries in Africa, like Gambia, Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa. The company aims to create an African legal digital service marketplace, a centralization of African legal services. ‘I know, the amount of my personal funds that have gone into the development of Lawteract app. I could as well have invested that money in other ventures, but I am not doing this just to make profit but to set a trend, to change the narrative about the lucrativeness of legal technology’, says Taiwo.
Faith Obafemi is a tech lawyer with a focus on blockchain, cryptocurrency, emerging technologies and Space technologies. Faith helps projects navigate the compliance maze for novel technologies through Future-Proof Intelligence (FINT) where she serves as Head of Strategy. On the research front, she presented her paper on ‘Decentralized Governance: The Future of Global Cooperation?’ at the 10th Annual Cambridge International Law Conference; and is a 2021 Tech Policy Fellow at the Tony Blair Institute, where she will research the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency in space.
You have always been the go-to person for anything on Blockchain law, so what sparked your interest in Space Law
I’m still into Blockchain. I haven’t abandoned it. My main interest is actually emerging technologies and since there is more than one emerging technology, I decided to gain competence one at a time. Now that I have a foothold in Blockchain, my next area of interest is Space technologies and I got interested in it because of its futuristic potential. I’m the kind of person that likes to ensure my career stays future proof because history has shown us that humans are naturally curious and love exploring. Even now that we have finished exploring the earth, the next logical place would be the galaxy. I want to be at the frontier when things are happening, that’s the kind of person I am. When breaking into a new space, I like to link the new knowledge to an area that I am already familiar with, that way I don’t start from the scratch. In this context of knowledge, I get to link my knowledge of Blockchain with Space Technology.
Who are those that you look up in the Space Technology space in Nigeria and Africa?to that are also into Space law in Nigeria and Africa as a whole?
Anne Agi, Etim Effiong, Simone Haganaba: a space lawyer in the US. Lecturer at Arizona state university.
I saw your post about becoming a Tech Policy Associate at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, right, could you tell us more about that?
So, I am still trying to convince myself that it’s actually real because I submitted my proposal on the last day and I was convinced nobody was going to get back to me. So, you can imagine my surprise when I got an acceptance mail as a Fellow. As I stated, earlier, I like to link an area I already know about and one I am trying to acquire knowledge about, so before I sent in my proposal, I saw Elon Musk’s post about bitcoin in space, how we could use it in space? So, that made me realize that there is actually a possibility of using blockchain in the crypto space. So when I read the topics they had priority interest in, once I saw smart contracts, I started looking for a way to get a topic related to smart contracts.
Congratulations! Based on your topic, what are the possibilities of smart contracts and cryptocurrency being used as a legal monetary engine for space?
This is what I will be spending the next few months trying to answer. Let me give some background on that. Vacationing in space may look like something that is not going to happen or something that is impossible. But if you have been following the news and updates from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and from NASA and Jeff Bezos .You will realize that this is something that is going to be a reality very soon. Soon, we are going to need to start answering questions like will we need a visa to visit space and who will issue this visa? The Outer Space Treaty says no one government governs space but it is the common heritage of mankind. This means no government denomination can be adopted as no single country is in control of space. How then will space native transactions happen?
This means we need to create space native digital currency but would it be collateralized? If we are to collateralize it would be by the sun or moon? Will it be algorithm backed like bitcoin? These are some of the questions I hope to answer in the coming months.
For lawyers or non-lawyers interested in Space law, any tips, courses they should take, books they should read or communities they should be a part of?