Elsewhere in this newsletter, you’ll read about our month-long visit from Tswinyane Alfred Mahlangu, the principal technologist for our sister organization AfricanLII. Alfred was here to work on LII-in-a-Box, a donor-funded AfricanLII project that will create a plug-and-play server that supports all forms of online legal publishing — judicial opinions, statutes, regulations, and other materials — in a way that combines ease of publication with sophisticated search and data-management capabilities. The project has immense potential for use in jurisdictions that don’t yet have any form of open access to legal information, and for other projects as well.
About a week after Alfred left, we were invited to collaborate with the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice here at the Law School. The Avon Center was responding to a request for proposals from UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. They are eager to establish a worldwide database of judicial opinions and commentary centering around gender-equality issues. It appears that LII-in-a-box is exactly what’s needed to support the project — and that it will substantially reduce the cost and difficulty of establishing and maintaining a database of legal information that will be used by judges, lawyers, and gender-equality advocates worldwide to advance gender equality within the context of constitutional provisions in areas such as violence against women, citizenship and nationality, marriage, harmful practices and property rights.
That’s the sort of synergy that happens when software based on open standards is shared by like-minded communities, and it makes us very happy to contribute our expertise to it.