One step ahead of the law

As the news broke last week with the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in Australia, Perth based law students and law firms are already one step ahead. Recognising the power of technology, web-based apps and risk assessment platforms have been developed to aid businesses and ensure reporting laws have impact.

Students with APPtitude

Professor of Disruption (Kate Offer) and Lecturer (Alex Cook) boldly launched the inaugural “Legal APPtitude” Unit at the University of Western Australia (UWA), to a resounding success.

Proudly supported by Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Checkbox, the brief was simple but ambitious.

“Use artificial intelligence to provide a service that will protect disadvantaged and vulnerable people, whilst improving efficiencies and saving costs for non for profits.”

To ensure this wasn’t a theoretical exercise, students were paired with NGOs, including Anglicare, the Walk Free Foundation, Street Law and the Employment Law Centre to take on real issues faced by NGOs in Perth.

Students embraced the brief, and surprised Walk Free with not only their legal talents, but their authentic advocacy to end modern slavery.

Two apps were developed for Walk Free.

The first focuses on raising awareness and why business should act. Focussing on Australian companies doing business in the Asia-Pacific, the app asks a series of questions about the business operations. Drawing on data from the Global Slavery Index 2018, it generates a report outlining what slavery is, what are relevant risks and why business needs to act.

The second app is designed to help businesses who are assessing which reporting laws they need to comply with, and if they can file one combined report. The app asks a series of questions to assess which laws are applicable and if they meet the threshold tests. The final report generated advises businesses which laws to report under, mandatory content, the deadlines for filing and how to comply with legal formalities. This app is designed to help businesses save time and resources deciphering legal technicalities, so they can focus efforts and resources on substantive action to eliminate modern slavery.

The students presented their apps at Minderoo to a small group of businesses including Wesfarmers and Clayton Utz, with Andrew Forrest and Hon Julie Bishop also lending their enthusiastic support. All who attended agreed the quality of work these students delivered in a short period of time, is a very positive sign of emerging innovation from this next generation of lawyers.

The apps will be available for public use in 2019, please email sfreitag@walkfreefoundation.org for more information.