Andrea Mongia


BarefootLaw is a non-profit organisation which, through the innovative use of digital technology, empowers people with free legal information so that they can use it to develop legal solutions for their justice needs. BarefootLaw’s work involves using technology and innovative approaches to bridge the gap between people and the legal system.The approach uses technology-driven platforms such as online resources in addition to traditional legal aid approaches such as outreach programs to disseminate legal information and provide guidance to remote communities. This approach aims to eliminate barriers hindering access to justice, fostering the peaceful resolution of legal issues.


BarefootLaw’s work is prompted by the global challenge of unmet justice needs, affecting 5.1 billion people worldwide and this is particularly pronounced in Uganda. According to data from the World Justice Project and national surveys in Uganda, 90% of Ugandans confront legal issues, but only about 1% can access formal legal services. This is exacerbated by the fact that over 80% of the population relies on informal justice systems including local council courts and traditional or clan mechanisms.  


Additionally, the current existing policies and interventions lack a comprehensive approach to integrating formal and informal justice systems at the community level. With little to no support and legal training, both the public and local leaders are left incapable to fully handle some of the complex legal issues in their communities .BarefootLaw also acknowledges the compounded challenges faced by different groups especially women in the traditional setting. Women are more prone to human rights abuse from domestic violence, to refusal to own property or even the right to education.

Technical details & Operations

Uganda’s technology use is continuously increasing. As of early 2023, a total of 30.55 million cellular mobile connections were active in Uganda which figure is an equivalent of 63.8 percent of the total population. BarefootLaw’s goal is to leverage this technology growth to foster and improve access to legal information and access to justice for all.


BarefootLaw’s DNA is rooted in a commitment to utilising technology and creative problem-solving to bridge the access to justice gap for all, especially the vulnerable and marginalised. This ethos permeates through the existing initiatives, such as the Law calls (call and talk to a lawyer for free), Law text (text a question and get a response in any language), social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp as well as other platforms like the Nodes Software to connect with community justice. All of this is powered and enhanced by the use of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) called ‘Winnie’ to make access to justice possible for communities.  

More recently, BarefootLaw has also established the BarefootLaw Boxes. The BarefootLaw Boxes are recycled and repurposed solar-powered shipping containers strategically positioned in remote, conflict-prone grassroots communities to connect people to the Law. It serves as a digital gateway, offering vital legal resources and guidance to vulnerable communities facing legal challenges. The approach centres on provision of first-line tech-enabled legal support and community-driven education projects to help break down barriers of access to justice, allowing people to understand the Law and use it to protect themselves and property. It utilises both online and offline BarefootLaw systems to enhance the delivery of legal aid programs in areas with limited internet connectivity.  The activities at the BarefootLaw Box include virtual legal consultations and virtual community leaders’ trainings. Its integration with both formal and informal justice systems fosters a prompt, affordable, and accessible platform for legal consultation, mediation and dispute resolution for communities seeking to resolve their legal needs. Central to this innovation, it also utilises “Winnie,” – the in-house AI system that enhances legal capabilities to generate quick legal responses. This AI-driven ensures quick turnaround of feedback and response.

Deployment & Impact

BarefootLaw’s goal is to make access to justice and the law readily available to 50 million people across Africa by 2030. To date, BarefootLaw has empowered over 1,000,000 people with legal information and the support they need which they otherwise might not have been able to get.


BarefootLaw prides itself as people-centred, focusing on how to serve the people that need their services by ensuring that all the current hurdles from geographical distance to access to justice points to financial and societal hindrances based on traditions and cultures are removed or extensively reduced to enable any person have access to legal information that they can use to live as empowered in every area of their lives. 

Through the use of technology and innovative methods, BarefootLaw has been able to serve underserved people in Uganda. Depending on a person’s degree of access, technology is leveraged through both internet and non-internet based, community structures to train and support people at the grassroots level and through the media to disseminate our information as far as possible. With internally developed technology(Winnie- the AI system) BarefootLaw has managed to speed up the rate of response thus increasing the number of people that seek BarefootLaw’s help. Through outreaches, legal clinics and local government engagements, grassroot communities have been sensitised on the law, their rights, duties and on how to manoeuvre BarefootLaw’s tools and platforms. They are then given access to these tools such as SMS and voice platforms and these same communities have managed to remain in contact with BareootLaw and the members seeking legal information and support when they need it.

In communities, the BarefootLaw Box has been deployed in extremely remote and hard to reach areas. This has been an avenue to create synergies within grassroots justice eco-systems – centralising technology, legal expertise, and justice points in one place – improving accessibility, affordability and quick turnaround time for justice outcomes for vulnerable communities.