Paul Wababu: Meru University student develops AI ‘lawyer’ that understands Sheng, Swahili

Paul Wababu
Paul Wababu: Meru University student develops AI 'lawyer' that understands Sheng, Swahili - YEA Kenya

Paul Wababu is a computer science student at Meru University and a full-stack engineer who created Sheria Mkononi, Kenya’s first AI lawyer.

The AI is designed to provide advanced legal services to Kenyans who cannot afford legal services and do not understand English.

Sheria Mkononi is equipped with advanced technology to process vast amounts of legal data in real-time, providing accurate legal advice within seconds and efficiently handling complex legal cases.

The impressive creation is programmed to comprehend various languages, such as Swahili, making it readily available to customers from diverse regions of Kenya and beyond.

Paul Wababu’s Sheria Mkononi

Sheria Mkononi utilizes the advanced OpenAI model GPT-turbo to rapidly process legal data and provide legal advice within seconds, making it a groundbreaking tool for providing efficient and reliable legal services.

The AI lawyer can also provide a robust defence for even the most intricate legal cases, ensuring clients receive the best legal representation.

Sheria Mkononi is useful to clients seeking legal services, and prosecutors can also use it to help build a case against someone.

The AI lawyer is fluent in Swahili and has the ability to understand other languages, such as Sheng and some mother tongues. This feature makes it accessible to clients from different regions of Kenya who speak different languages.

“The model however needed to be fine-tuned in order to make it better suited for Kenyans and so I worked with my sister who is a lawyer to help me fine-tune the responses” Wababu commented.

“I also needed a dataset that contains sample interactions, that’s why the model can speak in the Kenyan tone; mixing English and Kiswahili or plain Kiswahili/English,” Wababu explained.

Sheria Mkononi, the AI lawyer created by Paul Wababu, offers various legal services in various areas, including criminal law, family law, contract law, and property law.

“It can also draft law documents like a cease and desist letter and basically any type of law document. It can also be used by prosecutors when they want to form a case against someone so that it’s easier to get the criminals incriminated,” Wababu said.

According to Wababu, the creation of Sheria Mkononi was motivated by the challenges many Kenyans face in accessing affordable legal services.

“I observed that the traditional legal system had several limitations and inefficiencies that prevented people, particularly those who could not afford legal services or did not understand English, from accessing affordable and accessible legal services.”

“Additionally, after watching the recent Tea farmers BBC expose, I realized that such a system would be incredibly useful, as many people in Kenya lack access to the legal system,” he said.


“The creator may plan to reach these individuals through various channels, including social media, partnerships with community organizations, and outreach programs

“I plan to reach them through various channels, including social media, partnerships with legal aid organizations, and outreach programs in rural areas,” he said.

Wababu also explained how AI lawyers like him and other legal technologies could transform the legal industry.

He said they can help increase access to legal services, reduce the cost of legal services, and improve the efficiency of legal processes.

“AI lawyers can provide a more consistent and objective approach to legal decision-making. It will also keep the lawyers in check because in the back of their minds, they will know that such a system is coming and they would need to be top-notch all time in order not to get replaced,” he added.

While someone might wonder how does the AI lawyer handle complex legal cases that require human judgment and discretion?

READ: Sammy Ekaran: 28-year-old Kenyan develops Africa’s first AI content generation software

Wababu said that Sheria Mkononi uses advanced algorithms and human expertise to handle complex legal cases that require human judgment and discretion.

“The system can analyze vast amounts of legal data and provide accurate legal advice, but in cases where human judgment is required, the system refers the case to a team of human lawyers who provide the necessary expertise, though not yet implemented as that will need partnerships with various lawyers.”

Further, Wababu noted that he has taken several steps to ensure that the AI lawyer complies with legal and ethical standards.

This includes implementing advanced security measures to protect user data and complying with all applicable data privacy laws and regulations

“We also don’t save interactions with the bot to ensure your privacy is respected in complex cases. I also have a data controller license which further shows my commitment to securing your data,” he said.

Among his main challenges was to get the model to talk in a Kenyan tone.

“Large language models are unpredictable and so, in order to fine-tune such a model, you need a large dataset of the various desired output formats. Also, fine-tuning your own model costs money,” Wababu said.

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Joshua Kalata

Joshua Kalata

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