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Bahamas-based Law School and Caribbean Justice Agency Launch Innovative Digital Aid Programme

Bahamas-based Law School and Caribbean Justice Agency Launch Innovative Digital Aid Programme

Media Release Courtesy Eugene Dupuch Law School

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas-based Eugene Dupuch Law School’s (EDLS) Legal Aid Clinic is taking its services into the digital age.

Using an innovative digital platform developed by the Caribbean Agency for Justice Solutions (CAJS), the Legal Aid Clinic recently launched the pilot of its Community Legal Aid Programme (CLAP).

Principal of EDLS, Tonya Bastian Galanis, explained that CLAP’s primary purpose is “to increase access to justice for the public by making legal advice and services more accessible”. She noted that the Clinic’s ability to hold in-person consultations was severely curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when it was not possible to interview clients in-person or complete the paper-based forms.

“We had to find a way to continue providing these important services to the public, but we wanted a solution that would mimic the experience of the in-person clinic as closely as possible” said Bastian Galanis. She added that what distinguishes CLAP from other legal programmes is the way in which technology is being leveraged and the mobility of the Clinic throughout the communities.

The Programme uses an innovative digital platform developed by the CAJS, called AccessLegal. The technology automates key administrative functions in the legal aid process to provide the public with improved access to legal aid services.

Director of the Legal Aid Clinic, Nicole Sutherland King,  shared that the new programme facilitates wider access to lawyers and other persons interested in volunteering their time and expertise. It also helps the Clinic to reach a broader group of Bahamians who need legal assistance.

“The new technology tools donated by CAJS are expected to make it far easier for Legal Aid services to be provided to remote communities and across our Family Islands,” she stated.

Executive director of CAJS, Bevil Wooding, explained that the AccessLegal platform was specially designed to help law schools, corporate pro bono teams, and legal aid organisations in the Caribbean to offer online services.

“Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the delivery and management of legal services globally. AccessLegal helps legal aid facilities advertise the region to benefit from efficiency gains, cost savings and service quality improvement in the execution of their vital service too society.

He explained that the technology helps Legal Aid organizations to more efficiently identify volunteers, conduct community polls, orient and onboard lawyers, assign matters, monitor case statuses, and record outcomes and impact; for lawyers.

“It also offers easy-to-use collaboration tools for co-counsel and a digital repository for forms, resource documents and educational content”, he added.

Wooding further explained that the technology underpinning the AccessLegal service also allows community centres, schools, loaned offices, retrofitted buses and other appropriate spaces to be easily converted into secure, full-service, legal aid centres.

The EDLS Legal Aid Clinic serves hundreds of low-income clients every year, including single parents, retirees, immigrants, and the unemployed. CLAP is a collaboration between EDLS, The Bahamas Bar Association, ol Office of the Attorney General, the  Ministry of Legal Affairs, and CAJS.



About EDLS:

The Eugene Dupuch Law School is based in Nassau, The Bahamas, and was established in 1998 as the third law school in the English-speaking Caribbean community. The school offers a two-year practical professional training programme and supports a Legal Aid Clinic, which serves as a training facility for students of the Law School and is operated for the benefit of persons who are unable to afford the services of a practitioner in private practice. The Legal Aid Clinic routinely hosts free community legal aid clinics and free lectures to increase awareness of legal matters.

About CAJS:

The Caribbean Agency for Justice Solutions is a non-profit, regional development agency dedicated to providing technology-enabled solutions to the Caribbean’s justice sector. The institution pioneered the development of innovation solutions for Courts, Tribunals, law offices and the public bar and has invested in the development of indigenous human resource capacity, through a series of educational workshops and programmes. Its flagship Curia Court Management System was the first enterprise-scale electronic filing and case management system developed in the Caribbean.

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Bevil Wooding Advisor to the Director General on Strategic ICT, BrightPath Foundation
OECS Communications Unit Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Bevil Wooding Advisor to the Director General on Strategic ICT, BrightPath Foundation
OECS Communications Unit Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
About The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

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The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an International Organisation dedicated to economic harmonisation and integration, protection of human and legal rights, and the encouragement of good governance among independent and non-independent countries in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS came into being on June 18th 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate with each other while promoting unity and solidarity among its Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, so named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed. The OECS today, currently has eleven members, spread across the Eastern Caribbean comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and Guadeloupe. 

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
Morne Fortune
Saint Lucia