Legal empowerment event and the 6th Asia Pro Bono Conference

The Global Legal Empowerment Network, led by @marlonmanuel, @uli, and @manzoorhasan, together with @brucelasky and @sumaiya_islam, hosted a legal empowerment pre-conference event the day before the 6th Asia Pro Bono Conference in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia in early October.

The event was aimed at discussing legal empowerment work regionally, looking at regional priorities in South-, Southeast-, and Northeast Asia, and mapping out the various networks that exist in the region to improve collaboration. We will be compiling notes from the sessions to inform more regional collaboration in the coming months.

In the sessions, we also spent time exploring and clarifying legal empowerment and pro bono as concepts, which led to one key takeaway that I wanted to share: that these two efforts are much closer in aims and goals than I had expected previously. The Pro Bono movement across Asia was insistent in framing legal aid and pro bono work as part of more general “legal service provision,” which includes community paralegals and other legal empowerment practitioners. Both community paralegals and legal empowerment were discussed throughout the conference, and many cutting edge legal empowerment organizations like Asylum Access, Liberty Asia, Earthrights International, Stateless Network Asia Pacific, BRAC, Alliance for Social Dialogue, and many others were present throughout. The discussions of more inclusive framing of legal service provision with bar associations, national pro bono centers, legal aid societies, law firms, and Ministries of Justice was particularly encouraging, as was how legal empowerment strategies can help advance the rights of migrant workers, drug users, refugees, and other marginalized populations.

We will be working on following up connections with various pro bono groups from the conference to explore how their efforts can support members of our network, including Trust Law, iProbono, Justice Connect, and others.

This is a concise summary, but I would encourage others who participated to add their own thoughts and reflections to the discussion - @hayazahid @manzoorhasan @donnyard @anmau_manigbas @debayangupta @deepa_nambiar @urdu @NitaDhungana @nwenisoe @San @SomPrasadNiroula @shahariarsadat

Here’s a group photo of the participants from the legal empowerment day: