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Design technology to guarantee access to justice and human rights

Law in Action: Justice and Legal Technology

Learn how individuals, organisations and governments can enforce compliance with human rights and how legal technology can contribute to that. You will apply the knowledge and skills obtained in a practical project: you design an app to enhance access to justice or use open-source information for investigating and documenting human rights violations.

Law in Action: Justice and Legal Technology is the first minor open to students of the Bachelor of Law, Law in Society and Criminology as well as exchange students, which has a strong focus on practical legal knowledge and skills. Each student of this minor will participate in the Justice and Legal Technology Clinic in the second and third period of the academic year (12 ECTS). A clinic is a course in which students learn through practical experience. In this clinic you work on a project in which you use and/or design legal technology to solve a real problem. You can choose between different tracks of the Clinic.

In the Human Rights Investigation track, for example, you will investigate human rights violations through open-source investigations. You may know about this type of investigations through the activities of organisations such as Bellingcat. In the context of your project, you will develop skills such as verifying digital content, recognising disinformation and establishing where and where specific events (such as human rights violations) took place.

You can also opt for a track in which you will design an app in order to enhance access to justice for a particular group of individuals, for example migrants in detention, sex workers or homeless persons. You will learn how you identify a problem concerning access to justice and find a solution for this problem using legal technology. In this process, you will closely cooperate with international or local civil society.

In the clinic, you will work in a small team of students under the supervision of the teachers of the minor. During the clinic meetings, you will discuss relevant theory, present the progress of your project, or receive a guest lecture from professionals in the human rights and/or legal technology field.

Moreover, you will develop your writing, presentation and reflection skills in the course Legal and Professional Skills, which runs parallel to the clinic. In the meetings for this course, you will practice and reflect on these skills. You will also discuss ethical aspects of your clinical project. The assignments for this course are closely connected to your clinical work.

Of course, you will need specific knowledge and skills in order to successfully finalise your project in the clinic. Therefore, the minor starts with the plenary courses ‘Human Rights in Action’ and ‘Legal Design Thinking’. In the course Human Rights in Action you learn how human rights function in practice. Which role do (inter)national organisations, governments, companies and individuals play in the implementation and enforcement of human rights? Which strategies do they use? The course Legal Technology and Design Thinking allows you to understand what legal technology is and how it can be used, for example, to ensure access to justice. Moreover, you develop your skills in legal design thinking, an interdisciplinary design approach to prevent or solve legal problems and provide individuals with access to justice.

Get to know teacher Prosper Maguchu

Prosper shares his motivation to change his career.

Studying at VU Amsterdam