MJ4All operates in the public domain, using a market approach, constantly balancing the objectives of social inclusion of the target groups with setting up a sustainable infrastructure for legal service provision. In situations where the international community has a responsibility to act (on the basis of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Responsibility to Protect), MJ4All operates in the public domain, catering for the objectives of international development. However, when delivering legal services, a market approach is used.
TheMJ4All activities which are a public responsibility need to be supported by external funding. The costs of the legal service distribution generally fall outside the ambit of funding from donors and have to be paid for by the clients, unless there is a humanitarian disaster. Where it concerns the very poorest at the BoP, the government of the country of operation ought to pay the costs of legal service provision, but in poor countries that is often not feasible.
The Limbs of the MJ4All Concept in Practice
The limbs of the Microjustice4All Concept are:
- The provision of standardized legal services,
- To marginalized target groups,
- With a view to their social, economic and political inclusion,
- While undertaking bottom-up institutional capacity-building, and building a bridge between the people and their government,
- Financed in a cost-efficient and sustainable way which can be scaled up.
The Microjustice4All Methodology is the mechanism for implementing these limbs in practice.
A The Provision of Standardized Legal Services
Limb (a) permeates the entire MJ4All Program and therefore it will be discussed in more detail below.
B Marginalized Target Groups
As explained in the definition, the target group of MJ4All is marginalized people. The term ‘marginalized’ refers to two categories of people:
1) Victims of conflict and disaster
Victims of conflict and (natural or man-made) disaster are helped to access the rights, entitlements and benefits of the system and humanitarian aid. They are also helped to restore their pre-disaster legal situation (e.g. restoration of property and arranging civil paperwork).
2) People at the bottom of the social/income pyramid, who do not enjoy the entitlements, opportunities and rights of the system in their country and who lack legal protection. Within this group there are two subgroups:
(i) The very poorest, who possess nothing. The focus is on civil documentation that gives them an existence in the system and access to entitlements.
(ii) People who are trying to escape the poverty cycle by engaging in economic activities, starting to possess a piece of land and tools etc. It is difficult to escape from poverty if one does not arrange legal protection of one’s possessions and business.
Within these target groups, a new MJ4All Program has to decide which particular target groups it will cater for. This will depend on the context in which the new MJ4All Program is set up, and the outcome of the feasibility study. If an existing humanitarian or development organisation sets up a MJ4All Program, then it is likely to focus on its existing beneficiaries. For example, in 2015-2016, working in co-operation with the Peruvian Red Cross, the MJ4All Program in Peru focused on the victims of earthquake in Pisco and the flooding in Iquitos.
C Legal services with a View to Social, Economic and Political Inclusion in Society
MJ4All focuses on non-litigious private and administrative legal matters. MJ4All offers practical, legal solutions which often takes the form of a legal document, such as correction of birth certificates, death certificates, contracts, ID, business registration, registration of social organizations, property transfer and land registration. In this way, people can protect themselves, their business and their belongings. In addition, it enables people and groups to access the benefits and entitlements in the system of their country (including access to education, healthcare, pension schemes and enfranchisement). These issues are even more important in the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis, because all the victims need access to aid schemes and protection of their person and their belongings. MJ4All’s work is comparable to the work of solicitors in the English legal system, except that the MJ4All Methodology focuses on the basic rights of those at the bottom of the pyramid and victims of humanitarian crises.
D Bottom-up Legal Capacity Building with a focus on Evidence-Based Lobbying
Microjustice4All country organizations do not only provide standardized legal services to people who lack access to rights, but also work with government institutions to propose modifications in legal and administrative practices to make them more accessible. MJ4All takes a co-operative approach to lobbying, assisting the government with improving the legal system on a technical level. Our lobbying is evidence-based and situation-driven; we collect information about the legal obstacles which people face in the Complaints Registration System and this forms the foundation of our lobbying activities.
Lobbying usually takes the form of technical legal reports, which explain the obstacles and provide recommendations for improving the institutional practices. These reports are shared with the relevant government institutions. Exceptionally, we exert pressure on governmental institutions to promote structural change, if this is considered the most efficient option.
The Complaints Registration System
Microjustice4All has developed a Complaint Registration System (CRS) in which complaints about the legal and administrative system and obstacles to accessing the system can be recorded. The information in the CRS provides the foundation for lobbying activities.
Legal Capacity Building and Lobbying During and After Humanitarian Crises
During and after humanitarian crises, MJ4All may provide advice on developing provisional administrative and legal measures to deal with the crisis situation, prevent conflict and rehabilitate the victims.
The Transparency and Accountability Tool
The complaint procedure is essential in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster. Following a humanitarian disaster, there is a lot of material aid available and at the same time, there is often chaos due to the malfunctioning of the ordinary administrative and legal procedures. Therefore, it is important to have a mechanism in place so there is someone that people can complain to; the complaints need to be followed-up with evidence-based lobbying activities.
E Microjustice4All Funding Model
The Microjustice4All Programs and Country Organizations have a mixed funding model:
- External funding from donors (usually from the public sector but there might also be private funding) for the start-up phase and thereafter for the permanent, non-variable costs of the activities with a public function (mainly for legal education, awareness-raising and lobbying). External funding is also necessary in humanitarian crises in order to facilitate the emergency response and the rehabilitation of victims. In addition, funding from donors is necessary to provide the most basic legal solutions (e.g. legally correct civil documentation) for the very poorest at the BoP.
- Charging the clients for service-delivery: in this way, Microjustice4All Programs can structurally develop a nationwide distribution network within a country without needing permanently large funds from the donors. Furthermore, the affordable Microjustice4All legal services encourage the poor to be self-reliant.
The following factors enable financial sustainability within a few years:
- Low operational costs (by standardization of services leading to economies of scale and high efficiency, and often working with undergraduate law students, who are primarily seeking to gain experience rather than income),
- Large volume (due to the high demand and wide distribution network),
- Payment of affordable fees by the clients,
- Using pre-existing infrastructures of partners, especially for distribution.
Therefore, Microjustice4All is not a typical donor-dependent project. However, the public function of Microjustice4All of public education and legal capacity building requires external funding in line with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the “Responsibility to Protect" principle to prevent conflict and build peaceful, democratic societies. The funding scheme of an ideal Microjustice4All Program or Country Organization would be as follows:
In the development phase of the organization, external funding will be needed for all costs. This includes the costs of starting up the organization and developing the products. This can be seen as seed money. During the next three phases, fewer external funds are needed as clients start to pay for their products and services. In the last and ideal stage, external funds are only used for public functions and further development of the Microjustice4All methodology. The activities related to service provision to clients should be fully funded by the clients.
The Microjustice4All Methodology has been set up to balance the public and private financing models to make it sustainable. Finding the right balance between donor-independence and affordability for clients is a continuous process. In summary, Microjustice4All Programs need to be financed sustainably and ethically.
How does a MJ4All Program Work?
The following section explains how MJ4All Programs provide standardized legal services (Limb A of the definition of MJ4All).
Preparations for Setting up a MJ4All Program
Legal Needs and Context Mapping
Once it has been decided that a Microjustice4All Program will be set up, the next stage is to conduct a Legal Needs and Context Mapping. This involves:
- defining more precisely the legal needs and target groups,
- identifying the partners with whom these needs can be addressed,
- identifying the opportunities and possibilities,
- defining more precisely the legal needs and target groups.
A formal Legal Needs and Context Mapping is conducted at the outset. Thereafter, assessment of the legal needs and context mapping becomes an ongoing process. While working with clients, greater insight will be gained into the legal problems of the target group, how to develop practical legal solutions, and which partners to work with.
The legal needs which the MJ4All Program decides to focus will probably depend on which partners it is working with (on the basis of the business case with that particular partner) and which type of activity donors are willing to pay for. For example, the United Nations Development Programme contracted Microjusticia Bolivia to arrange the legal personality of a number of their women’s groups in Cochabamba in early 2016.
Product development means developing Product Manuals that are used as the basis of all service delivery by MJ4All, more precisely:
- to train the Facilitators and Case Managers
- are consulted by team members when they are providing legal advice
- are used for case management (developing practical legal solutions)
- are used as basis for legal awareness raising, developing promotional material etc.
The MJ4All Program only provides legal services that are described in a Product Manual. This ensures that we can capitalize on the principle of economies of scale. It is also a guarantee for the quality of the service provision as MJ4All are often working with undergraduate law students who should not provide legal services beyond the range of MJ4All’s expertise.
The Product Manuals are standardized and focus on the legal needs of the target group. The manuals need to be continually updated as the situation changes or our understanding of the problems evolves.
MJ4All Programs provide practical legal solutions. Therefore, the Product Manuals must provide practical information, e.g. forms, templates office hours and the easiest way to get to the relevant office. This information can be obtained by talking to local lawyers and the relevant institutions. Developing a good relationship with these institutions is also important for future collaboration and lobbying purposes.
When developing the practical legal services in the product manuals, the initial focus should be on addressing legal needs which are relatively easy to resolve with the current partners, and for which there is an evident need. Once the product has been developed, the price needs to be established on the basis of the external and internal costs of the service provision.
Each Product manual needs to contain a Product list with:
- the legal services,
- key information regarding costs and duration.
There will also be lists with product packages, where a number of legal services are needed to obtain one practical legal solution. For example, in general, in order to register or transfer property, the client requires ID papers, the relevant contracts, the notarial act(s) and the registration(s) in the public offices.
The Distribution System
To provide the standardized MJ4All legal services to the target group, it is important to set up a distribution system. The distribution system should build on existing infrastructures, including development and humanitarian organizations, and social businesses working with the target groups. This facilitates access to the clients, and also reduces costs, because MJ4All normally does not have to pay for the outlets nor the public-relations and awareness-raising activities, as part of the partnership deal. Therefore, it is essential to set up partnerships with organizations already working with the target group. Organizations which have an interest in their clients receiving legal services may also pay the MJ4All Program for having MJ4All activities integrated in their activities and infrastructure. These partners usually provide an outlet at a strategic point and share their distribution network.
All aspects of Microjustice4All’s work are based on partnerships. Therefore, before getting started, some partnerships need to be developed, but this is an ongoing process.
The following types of partnership should be established:
- Partnerships with universities. Microjustice4All works a lot with students in their final year who need to gain experience for their degree.
- Partnerships with the legal profession. Microjustice4All works together with legal experts when developing legal products and resolving legal cases. When a case is outside the ambit of the Microjustice4All Program, the Microjustice4All Facilitator can refer the case to a legal specialist who may be able to help the client.
- Partnerships with relevant legal and administrative institutions. This is important for lobbying purposes and for gaining knowledge about how the legal institutions function in practice. MJ4All Programs engage in long-term working relationships with the institutions that are involved with resolving cases and make recommendations to these institutions on how to improve access to the system.
- Partnerships with social organizations and business, such as NGOs, civil society organizations, microfinance banks, social state programs, schools, health centers and humanitarian organizations. Microjustice4All often distributes its products at the outlets of a partner organization. We also organize legal education and awareness-raising for the target groups of our partner organizations.
These partnerships can result in:
- Appointment of new MJ4All facilitators and case managers,
- Technical support and referral of cases,
- Use of office space,
- Co-operation in getting access to the target group,
- Awareness campaigns that can make use of the expertise and network of both parties.
Case Management System (CMS) and Complaint Registration System (CRS)
Before starting the program, it is essential to have a CMS in place. Microjustice4All has developed a Case Management System (CMS) which can be used anywhere in the world, with minor adaptations to the local context. The CMS allows data to be collected, which is essential for reporting to donors and raising awareness about what the Microjustice4All Program does. It also enables the progress of the case to be tracked. It is essential that the CMS is used correctly from the beginning, so that the impact of the MJ4All activities can be demonstrated and any case can be tracked. The team needs thorough training on how to use the CMS and should be supervised when using the CMS.t.
The CRS (as described under lobbying and humanitarian transparency & accountability tool) has to be set up in the preparatory phase as well.
Running a Microjustice4All Program
Legal Service Provision
Once the products have been developed, the MJ4All Program can offer its services to the clients. There are two aspects to the service provision:
- Legal consultations: The MJ4All Facilitator provides legal advice, usually for free. If a client requires a MJ4All Product, the MJ4All Facilitator will start a case.
- Cases: Case Managers process the cases, using product manuals. If the case falls outside the ambit of MJ4All legal services, the Case Manager can refer the client to a network of lawyers who may be able to assist.
Legal Education and Awareness-raising
Our legal education and awareness-raising activities are always practical and hands-on, linked to a concrete practical legal solution that MJ4All can offer. We never teach people about human rights in an abstract way. Rather, we teach people about the importance of real legal issues and offer practical solutions. This can be seen as a form of marketing of Microjustice4All legal services.