How LawGecko Uses AI & Agile Principles to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

April 04, 2024


Emily May

AI and agile principles are often associated with tech-forward industries, not so much with tackling social justice issues. Yet, both are central to the success of an AI platform that aims to provide accessible and empathetic support to domestic violence survivors. In this article, we explore the business model of a cutting-edge nonprofit called LawGecko and how it embraces tech and agile methodologies for the good of humanity.

LawGecko: A Grassroots Solution to a Pervasive Problem

On April 8, 2022, tragedy hit Nigeria. Osinachi Nwachukwu, a deeply cherished gospel singer, died following what her family members describe as “injuries sustained from domestic abuse,” according to reporting from The Guardian. She was no longer filling colossal venues with crescendos of spiritual encouragement and hope–and this forced society to examine a pervasive issue that was looming under the surface. “It put a national spotlight on the reality of the problem, that intimate partner violence is a big deal, and people need to do something about it,” said Russell Avre, the social entrepreneur behind LawGecko. 

However, this news wasn’t Avre’s first brush with the human rights issue. A close family member of his had also been a victim of intimate partner violence or IPV, leading to a whirlwind of hospital visits, concussions, and living in shelters with her children. “Her story was…a harrowing experience,” he recounts, which led him and the rest of his family to feel helpless in the situation, with a lack of resources or infrastructure to provide adequate support to their loved one. 

Avre pointed to the penal code of Nigerian law, explaining that there aren’t particular regulations that aid citizens in domestic violence situations. In reality, he says, “the laws sanction that violence,” permitting men to use their preferred form of “discipline” within marriage. “So if our culture and law support it, no wonder it is abundant,” he said. 

An Idea Was Born

As a witness to the injustice facing his family and the greater community, an idea emerged–“a lot of these women are going through this difficult situation, and I realized I had to do something about it,” said Avre. In 2015, he began researching and building a product concept that could serve as “a beacon of hope” for those trapped in domestic violence situations.

Now, a vision brought to life, LawGecko is an AI-powered platform that provides users with confidential and empathetic chat support, local services, legal guidance, and access to a community of fellow users who share similar experiences. The non-profit foundation aims to empower and guide victims of intimate partner violence toward recovery while respecting their unique journeys and cultural values. Inspired by the wall gecko, a common house lizard in Africa, “LawGecko is a vigilant observer in your home that helps you fight against domestic violence,” Avre proudly explained.

Harnessing the Power of AI & Agile For Social Justice

The Ethical Use of AI 

The choice to integrate AI heavily into the LawGecko platform was anything but random. As a nonprofit foundation that offers free resources to the public, the ability to keep therapists on call 24/7 isn’t financially feasible. “There is always that limitation regarding using humans versus robots,” Avre acknowledged. AI is cost-effective, alleviates staffing concerns, and ensures timely assistance for the greatest number of people, ensuring that life-saving support is accessible to everyone.

However, at LawGecko, these aren’t your average chatbots. The team has designed and trained artificial intelligence to understand the complexities and sensitivities of intimate partner violence through live data. “Some of our volunteers who have experienced this type of violence have shared their stories with us through interviews,” Avre says as he expresses the heaviness of these conversations. The case studies coach the language model to empathically listen, learn, and respond to victims of intimate partner violence in light of the nuance that surrounds domestic violence. “The model is now taking that data and using it to interact with individuals, giving it that feeling component that allows it to have conversations with empathy,” he adds. 

While the AI program is the first point of contact for LawGecko users, each conversation is treated on a case-by-case basis to provide further resources. For example, if additional intervention is necessary or preferred beyond AI-powered chat support, victims are referred to book a virtual appointment with a licensed therapist. The first session is complimentary, and the team hopes to cover more therapy costs in the future with additional donor support. 

Leveraging Agile Principles for Impact

Russell Avre has earned his agile coaching certification through ICAgile, one of many agile-related licenses and certifications that decorates and informs his expertise. He aims to instill an agile mindset within his team of around 300 global volunteers, who willingly donate their time and effort to the LawGecko cause. Agile principles have allowed the group to stay on track and engaged while building a product that works and targets the needs of domestic violence victims. 

Coaching & Development

Continued learning fosters a buzzing excitement among LawGecko volunteers. Those who volunteer their time have benefited from on-the-job training and team knowledge exchange, while some have earned certificates funded by donations. “Coaching is a key part of what we do. It was very instrumental in guiding the team towards the successful launch of the chatbot,” Avre said. The people who pour their passion into this project advance their professional abilities, build their resumes, and watch the fruits of their labor unfold to touch the lives of people in their own communities. 

Customer-Centricity & Feedback Loops

The nature of LawGecko's work requires a deep compassion and understanding of the victim's circumstances and the human rights issue at large. “Domestic violence is an issue that can impact anyone–our volunteers understand the problem and rally around solving it, which could eventually have a global impact,” says Avre. In the spirit of working as a team toward healthier communities, utilizing regular feedback loops provides volunteers with the customer feedback they need to make improvements and guide product development. 


Fun is commonplace within this charitable group, and “Glappy Hour” is no exception; a nod to the Glappy Foundation, which sponsors the LawGecko program. During this time, the volunteer team plays “innovation games,” shares personal stories and experiences, and practices active listening to create a sense of belonging and community. The leadership team discovered that these sessions foster engagement and psychological safety, reducing the volunteer turnover rate. “You have to find innovative ways to bring them back to the table, even when they get distracted with life,” states Avre.   


LawGecko volunteers collaborate using agile ways of work. “They have their daily standups, which they hold three times a week, sprint planning, backlog refinement sessions, and demo Fridays–which all keep the program going,” Avre explained. These practices reinforce an element of accountability and commitment to their collective mission. 

The Future of Social Justice

The landscape of social entrepreneurship continues to change as businesses adapt to technological advances and modern ways of working. In LawGecko's case, incorporating AI has enabled support services to be accessible and tailored to victims of domestic violence, while adopting agile methodology has enhanced its customer-centric approach to the product development process. As we look to the future of social justice, perhaps embracing change–both morally and on an organizational process level—will be the catalyst for achieving happier and healthier communities worldwide. 

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Leading Change, Agile Coaching

About the author

Emily May | ICAgile, Marketing Specialist
Emily May is a Marketing Specialist at ICAgile, where she helps educate learners on their agile journey through content. With an eclectic background in communications supporting small business marketing efforts, she hopes to inspire readers to initiate more empathy, productivity, and creativity in the workplace for improved internal and external outcomes.