Research Seminar in Sociology of Law with Stefanie Lemke
The Sociology of Law Department arranges a series of research seminars inviting both local and international researchers who are conducting state of the art research within various areas of law and society.
Access to Justice for All: Is Legal Technology the Answer?
Observations and Global Trends from Asia and Europe
Dr Stefanie Lemke
Legal Aid Specialist, United Nations Development Programme
With inflation soaring around the world, how to ensure that all people, regardless of financial situation, have their voices heard, can defend their rights and receive the support they need?
These questions are addressed by this research seminar. It explores how people are failed when accessing legal aid services and the growing importance of new technologies to get people the help they really need. The seminar looks at global trends – good examples of practice of countries where IT tools are used to strengthen every person’s right to access to justice and make legal aid services more accessible to all people.
Legal problems left unaddressed can severely impact people’s livelihoods. Many countries have therefore developed legal aid programmes to close the justice gap between people who can afford to pay for a lawyer and those who cannot. Ideally, legal aid programmes should make people aware of their rights and assist them to resolve their legal disputes. Findings of interviews and surveys Dr Stefanie Lemke conducted with government authorities, professional associations, NGOs and international development agencies across Asia and Europe, however, show that people encounter many challenges when accessing legal aid services. In this context, IT solutions may be an interesting and promising way of organizing legal aid systems for the years to come.
A socio-legal scholar and a lawyer by training, Dr Stefanie Lemke has worked, for more than 15 years, in the areas of judicial reform, access to justice and legal professions with governments, leading universities, prominent NGOs, commercial law firms and international organizations in Europe, Central and Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Currently, she serves as a legal aid specialist for UNDP. She completed a PhD at Oxford, London and Cologne Universities and was trained as a judge, a prosecutor and a criminal defence lawyer in Germany, litigating high-profile cases before international human rights bodies and the International Criminal Court. She was commissioned to draft Europe’s first guidelines on legal aid for the Council of Europe (which were approved by the Committee of Ministers in 2021) and has been appointed by the European Commission to several international expert committees promoting access to justice and judicial cooperation. Her latest book ‘Human Rights Lawyering in Europa’, published in 2020, investigates the relationship between affordable access to justice and the provision of legal services to vulnerable groups.