The American Bar Association (ABA) Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) is an international development program that promotes justice, economic opportunity and human dignity through the rule of law.

The ABA has had programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since 2003. Currently, ABA ROLI is working on numerous projects to strengthen the judicial system in MENA, including working with local organisations to assist victims of gender-based violence (GBV) to access services. It is also increasing awareness on alternatives to detention.


One of the core principles of ABA ROLI is to pursue long-lasting strategies and support the host country partners and staff in using new approaches to enhance their work.

To assist with sustainability, ABA ROLI wanted to upskill its team by providing the skills and practical understanding of legal design thinking (LDT) and legal technology.

To do this we:

  • Introduced the concepts of LDT and legal technology and how to apply these tools to design human-centred and accessible services and projects which would help solve real-life problems; and
  • Provided an opportunity for the team to apply their knowledge, skills and creativity, and test LDT and legal technology.


Hive Legal collaborated with legal automation platform Josef and the Centre for Legal Innovation at The College of Law, to design and deliver training sessions virtually to the teams in June 2021. Melissa Lyon (Executive Director & Experience Designer, Hive Legal), Sam Flynn (COO and Co – Founder, Josef) and Terri Mottershead (Executive Director of the Centre for Legal Innovation) designed and facilitated the program.

A number of legally trained and other allied professionals attended the training sessions, learning about LDT and how the law interacts with technology. The training sessions included inspirational insights into, and examples of, how design thinking and legal technology assist to identify and develop human- centred outcomes. This was followed by an interactive breakdown of the phases involved in design thinking, using a collaborative workspace. The teams got to test out their LDT skills by prototyping a tech solution, using Josef’s user friendly and no-code interface and also a non-tech-based solution.


The sessions introduced the ROLI MENA team to a different way of thinking which embraces starting with the needs of the citizens they are assisting, fostering creativity and finding relevant, functional and sometimes simple ways (both tech and non-tech based) to help those citizens access services. The team also developed some initial prototypes including a bot (integrated with social media) to help victims of gender-based violence access services and resources.

These are all skills and experiences which the ROLI team can now apply in their ongoing projects and field work in MENA.

For us at Hive it is fulfilling to know that this way of thinking and the ideas that were identified in this program will go on to improve the experience for some of the most vulnerable people in our global community.

Melissa Lyon

Melissa Lyon

Executive Director & Experience Designer

Amiinah Dulull

Amiinah Dulull