Day 3 Recap: The Innovating Justice Forum 2021

Funding people-centred Justice

On 10 February 2021, HiiL and partners met for the final day of the Innovating Justice Forum. Day 3 explored ideas for funding people-centred justice and the trends of justice budgeting. During three separate panel discussions, experts and participants examined how governments, donor agencies, and the private sector can support game changing justice initiatives. The day ended with a high-level conversation about using data to foster a people-centred justice movement for the future.

We, as a local government, have a responsibility to act,” said Saskia Bruines, Deputy Mayor of The Hague. “Data and research show us the need but only offer advice. And because cities provide many services, we play an important role increasing access to justice. We can bring the right people to the table to achieve the right results based on local needs.”

Highlights from Day 3 included:

  • Justice Budgets 2.0 – In the opening conversation, Maurits Barendrecht, Director of Research and Development at HiiL, and Marcus Manuel [insert title] ‘set the big picture’ of justice funding and budgeting. They outlined a 2.0 approach offering two perspectives: private initiatives and seed money. Maurits outlined the benefits of private investors including both quantified clear social returns to promote sector efficiency, and smart fees. In dealing with the latter, Marcus outlined the need to recognize money invested by the private sector versus money coming from the government, and distinguish (allocate) who’s money should be invested where. Both Maurits and Marcus also recognized a desire for funding models that will work at scale (involving innovations) and a priority to use evidence and stories to attract additional investments.
  • How can governments support game changing justice initiatives? – The conversation of government funding continued in the day’s first panel discussion. “Government plays a significant role in ensuring that it funds what is necessary to provide for citizens,” said Akingbolahan Adeniran, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Ogun State in Nigeria. “Collecting data is important as stakeholders and public officials must put themselves in the place of people seeking justice,” he said.

    Acknowledging the role of mediation and the financial incentives of legal professions, Gabriela McKellar, a Family Court Magistrate in South Africa, commented on the longer-term benefits of mediation. “A mediated solution is a more sustainable solution than a litigated solution because people learn the skills to continue the conversation throughout life, beyond the dispute,” she said. “There has to be a complete paradigm shift in the legal profession to understand the benefits of mediation.” Picking up an audience comment in the chat window, Akingbolahan added, “How about a government ‘Innovation Fund’ to help fund these disparities in power and resources?”
  • How can donor agencies support game changing justice initiatives? – During the second panel discussion, panelists echoed themes of innovation and the “whole new ways of understanding and addressing issues of justice,” as stated by Ross MacLaren, Program Officer at Mott Foundation. Andrew Solomon, Senior Rule of Law Advisor at USAID, added “Any innovation should provide a clear solution, and ‘easy’ return on investment. The term ‘Gamechanger’ helps understand the purpose of ‘innovation.’”

    The panel also discussed complying with grant requirements, using data to steer reform, and streamlining processes for reporting to help innovators understand their work. “We need to learn from our reporting,” said Andrew. “And manage this knowledge to aid in identifying innovations.” Angela Oduor Lungati, the Executive Director at Ushahidi, added, “With regard to reporting, we can be using data to facilitate a co-created relationship between donor and recipient so both parties understand the impact of their work. This can lead to ‘big picture’ conversations and give donors an opportunity to help co-create what the future will look like.”
  • Art and Law – J. Kim Wright, a legal systems entrepreneur and author of Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-solving Law, posed the question, ‘How do we hone our skills and get out of the box to become a gamechanger?’. Her enthusiastic answer: Art! “There are many benefits of making art which I believe should now be taught in law schools,” said Kim. “Lawyers are on their way to being recognised for their true purpose: peacemaking, problem-solving, and healing the wounds of the community. This shift in thinking combined with the benefits of art making can encourage more justice-sector ‘Gamechangers.’ So, design yourself to be the changer you wish to see.”
  • Video: Gamechangers Gamechangers are products, services, and models that have the potential to be sustainable and scalable. They are the solutions to people’s most prevalent and serious justice needs. There are 7 categories for Gamechangers. The video highlights a few case studies.
  • How can the private sector support gamechanging justice initiatives? – The third panel discussion offered a focused conversation on the role of the private in developing, funding, and scaling people-centred justice. Discussants acknowledged the trend and desire towards private sector involvement. “The goal is to drive change,” said Roopa Kudva, the Managing Director at Omidyar Network India.

    However, the panelists also discussed the challenges. “Investors are trying this for the first time too,” said Aniket Doegar, CEO and Co-founder of Haqdarshak. “It’s a steady process of learning and failing and figuring out business models but if we start thinking scale, then more investments can help, especially in technology and notably in rural areas.”

    “One way we can contribute,” said Jeroen Ouwehand, Global Senior Partner at Clifford Chance, “is not with funding but rather using our expertise to establish the right structure for innovation civil society, philanthropy, and private investment – and think about the track record of the initiative to attract outside financial support.”

    “Inefficiency creates opportunity,” said Eline Blaauboer, a Managing Partner at S&B Ventures where she has experience establishing impact funds focused on using technology to catalyze essential industries. “Justice as a sector doesn’t yet have specific funds focusing on in, but more startups relating to technology are popping up.”

    James Peters, Co-Founder of LegalZoom and Pulse Law, added, “The goal should never be to get funds to multiply the value of the company. Instead, focus on scaling the offered services and multiplying impact. The funds can help grow the business strategically and meaningfully but revenue is not a substitute for impact.”

“Shine the light on what problems need to be solved. There needs to be data and research on the problem to back up your initiative.” – Roopa Kudva, Managing Director at Omidyar Network India

  • From data to movement – The Innovating Justice Forum wrapped up with a conversation titled, Commitment to implementing people-centered justice: from data to movement. Discussants presented takeaways from the Forum and reflected on the next steps to foster the people-centred justice movements.

    “This year’s Forum has democratised our family in a way I never thought possible,” said Sam Muller, CEO at HiiL. “Something new is happening – a new kind of Justice Sector 2.0 – a sector where people are more open, and Gamechangers are initiating new types of leadership and governance.”

    Key takeaways included:
    • Open educational resources for law is trending and, with input from universities and students, will help build an open culture for law.
    • From the World Bank’s point of view – Shifting focus to start with research and provide analysis and advice in addition to the financial branch. But also maintaining a top to bottom approach that allows the World Bank to still coordinate needs and services delivery with ministries of justice and finance and their counsels. 
    • Shifting the ‘development’ field and culture so that justice lies at the heart of the sector and country/community development. 
    • Using data and technology as a means to ensure efficiency of processes and improve access and accountability.
    • Moving beyond data to stories: acting with empathy, listening to what local people care about in their jurisdictions, local challenges & solutions. It all comes down to exchanging experiences and connecting people across sectors to identify and share the best solutions. “From local to global”.

In closing the 2021 Innovating Justice Forum, Sam Muller, CEO at HiiL, and Borja Gutierrez, the Justice Accelerator Fund Specialist at HiiL, recapped key messages from the three days, including:

  • Demand for justice is rising (also because of COVID-19 which has widened the justice gap)
  • Emphasising a different kind of leadership in government. ““Leadership is collaboration, and leaders must make decisions with citizens in mind.” For their part, innovators can nudge the government to help scale approaches that prioritise people-centric solutions.
  • Examples of “great scalers” are no longer hypothetical and we can create enabling environments to support each other to scale solutions, help funders think differently, and link evidence to facilitate scale.
  • Applying Ubuntu – an ancient wisdom helping people move forward – this conciliatory form of justice and community harmony, as opposed to the more often adversarial and punishing nature of the justice system. “We cannot leave justice only to the lawyers.”
  • Developing and encouraging Gamechangers to test, learn, improve, and decentralise (where relevant) the delivery of justice. “The great breakthrough of this forum – we see real examples of Gamechangers.”

And what about the proverbial ‘elephants in the room’? Sam offered two thoughts:

  1. What will we stop doing? – “We need to be more open about stopping things that are not working and not scaling, etc. Maybe we need to have an open conversation about things that don’t work.”
  2. Money – “We had a special day for the money-talk, but perhaps money wasn’t integrated enough into the Forum? An interesting question raised in the chat: ‘People don’t want to talk about money but, also, maybe they don’t know how to talk about money – I think it is both. We can benefit from being less nervous at the start about talking about money. It’s totally ok to have a serious societal debate at all levels.”

Thanks to all who participated and made IJF 2021 a wonderful conference and ideas exchange! Follow the links below to learn more about the Forum along with HiiL’s project work and initiatives that are advancing user-friendly justice.

Further Reading: