“I have attended court hearings countless times, and the experience has been disappointing at best, downright nightmarish at worst,” Lebanese lawyer Siwar Roumanos told The961.
After October 2019, she spent days thinking about how access to justice can be facilitated to all parties involved in a judicial proceeding.
Based in Lebanon, she is now part of an all-women team that is changing the world of justice, taking it to the next level…. into the digital future.
In 2018, Siwar pursued her Master’s degree at City, University of London.
“My experience in London has opened my eyes to what is out there in the world and made me interested in subjects like entrepreneurship, startups, venture capital, angel investors, etc. I started thinking about ways to create a venture,” she recounted.
To excel in her profession, she began reading UK newspapers such as the Financial Times to hone skills that she found were a plus for getting into law schools and firms in the UK.
This is when she subscribed to a section in Financial Times dedicated to innovations in law, Innovative Lawyers.
In March 2020, Siwar decided to participate in a digital legal hackathon organized by FT’s Innovative Lawyers. The hackathon brought together lawyers and technology experts to create solutions for legal problems, virtually.
One project particularly sparked her interest: a software platform that would conduct hearings online.
“I contacted the team leader, a Romanian lawyer working in a boutique law firm in London, and we embarked on the ideation phase for the product that would facilitate access to justice to citizens unable to pursue a judicial recourse, due to lack of time, or money, or both.”
The idea of virtual/online hearings would also tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that the world is adapting to.
“Many judges and lawyers had to suspend their court activities. As a result, litigants were suffering, and the number of backlog cases in courts was growing at an alarming rate,” Siwar explained.
Siwar and her teammates masterminded a video-conferencing tool that includes all features required by lawyers and judges to seamlessly attend hearings: JusticiAll.
Now, the digital concept is gaining impressive global recognition from accelerators in The Hague and investors in Silicon Valley.
The idea has also received interest from lawyers and judges in Lebanon and The Netherlands.
“I believe that this platform is especially important in a country like Lebanon, where corruption is rampant and justice is slow,” she said.
It will remove the middle people involved in the trial process, and digitize documents, and schedule hearings online.
This way “litigants will know that all the fees they will have to pay are to their lawyers.”
“Judges will be able to hear more cases and avoid the excuse of litigants who cannot attend hearings due to alleged travel difficulties, and lawyers will not have to spend hours stuck in dark corridor halls (Baabda courts) waiting for the judge to hear their case,” Siwar explained.
“With the right authorizations, JusticiAll can be launched in Lebanon and will benefit all society greatly.”
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