Are LIIs Making Lawyers More Competent?

The question is now being asked in Western Africa. The International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC) has engaged in an assessment of the outcome of free access to law initiatives in four African countries – Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The evaluation will be focused more specifically on the impact of free circulation of legal information on the competence of lawyers.

In all those countries, where access to legal information is limited, if any, the local Bar Associations supported by the IDRC are involved in free access to law projects. In two of the countries, free access to law websites are already up and running (JuriBurkina and JuriNiger).

IDRC hopes to deliver an indicator-based framework that will assist Law Societies and other stakeholders involved in the free access to law movement worldwide in measuring the outcome of their efforts.


  1. My thanks to Ivan and the bar associations of BurkinaFaso, Senegal and Niger for their leadership role in promoting open access to law in western Africa. Through this evaluation project we hope among other things to better understand the effects of open access on the practice of law in the three countries.

    I would like to also mention an initiative championed this time in Southern Africa by another IDRC partner, The Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA). SARUA intends to better understand access to knowledge constraints in southern african universities, to highlight the role of open approaches to research in increasing the availability of academic and other relevant research publications to students and researchers and to develop the basis for policy advocacy at the institutional, country and regional level with respect to academic publishing and knowledge sharing.