On Thursday 7th December 2023, Legal Tech Lounge organized the maiden edition of the Accra LawTech Hangout; an event aimed at creating a community for lawyers, law students, and tech enthusiasts interested in the fields of legal tech and lawtech. 

The event which was hosted at Jambo Spaces commenced at 4pm with introductory remarks from the convener Michel Nkansah. During his introductory remarks, he stated the growing importance of Legal Tech in the delivery of legal services in Ghana as well as across the globe and hoped that this event will be a launchpad for constant innovation locally.

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A short launch of the Accra LawTech Hangout took place after the introductory remarks by the convener and was immediately followed with a discussion by the first panel on the topic “How does the law firm of today become the law firm of the future? How to build a law firm for the future, what’s stopping it, and what the goal looks like.” The panelists were thought leaders in the Ghanaian legal industry in the persons of  Nana Ama Botchway, Founder and Managing Partner at N. Dowuona & Company, Edem K. Okudzeto, Ph.D, JD (Senior Associate at Sam Okudzeto & Associates, Counselor at Law (Supreme Court of Illinois, Supreme Court of North Dakota), Patent Attorney (USPTO), Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana) and Jonathan Amable (Senior Associate, Financial Institutions and Capital Markets Team, Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah).

Important points touched on during the panel discussion included the characteristics of an outstanding law firm, the process of hiring and retaining great talent, and whether the legal industry should be alarmed over the rise of technology and competition for the lawyer’s work, particularly artificial intelligence.

Following the conclusion of discussions by the first panel, was a presentation by Dennis Adjei Dwomoh, Managing Partner of Law Plus (Attorneys-at-Law) and founder of DennisLaw on the topic “More than law, the evolving legal innovation ecosystem in Ghana.” The speaker discussed the origins of Legal Tech in Ghana and traced it to the pioneering efforts of the late Kojo Bentsi-Enchill in his founding of DataCenta Ltd. He then went ahead to identify the factors stifling the growth of legal innovation in Ghana, chiefly fingering the barrister/litigation-centric approach to the training of lawyers and regulation of the profession.

Before concluding, the speaker proceeded to propose solutions to this gap, which included urging the revision of the curricula at the various stages of legal education in Ghana, encouraging collaboration between members of the legal community and professionals from other fields of study especially technology, and the adoption of new approaches to the regulation of the legal profession.

Participants at the Accra LawTech Hangout were also treated to variety of perspectives as they sat through a virtual presentation by Stuart Hopper, a member of the City of London Corporation’s LawTech Sounding Board, chair of the Business Mentor Group for Oxford University’s Law & Computer Science Programme and former director of Knowledge, Global M&A Practice Group at Baker & McKenzie. 

His presentation was on the topic “Disruption, technology and new models in law – some practical issues.” The presentation entailed a detailed and statistically-backed breakdown of technologies disrupting the legal industry presently, including the amount of funding received by Legal Tech startups, nursing the hope that there is an opportunity for Ghanaian Legal Tech startups to thrive on the regional and global markets.

The second and final panel for the event took place with a discussion on the topic “Guiding the AI Journey – Adoption and Contractual Risks.” The panelists were Phillip Twum, ACCA, a FinTech Consultant, Vanessa Akuetteh, an Associate at Eight Geeks @ Law, and Frederick Abu-Bonsrah, Head of Legal at Farmerline Group and Legal Counsel at Kwame AI Inc. The panel discussed issues surrounding the overnight popularity of generative AI and its associated risks, the adoption of generative AI in law practice, and how to mitigate the costs of adopting technology as a whole in legal practice, among others.

Leveraging on the topic in the final panel discussion, the final presentation for the night was delivered on the topic “ChatGPT Explained for Lawyers” by Lenin Nicholas Anne-Agyei, a lecturer at the GIMPA Faculty of law and a team member of the Law Innovation Hub. In this presentation, the speaker simplified the lawyer’s approach to the use of ChatGPT for the achievement of the most efficient output. The speaker touched on the importance of context, legal prompting, and fact-checking in the use of ChatGPT. He also stressed on the need to always bear in mind the fallibility of the technology in these juvenile stages in order to avoid liability for legal malpractice claims as lawyers.

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