Legal Empowerment Network Session at the 11th Asia Pro Bono Conference (APBC) & Access to Justice Exchange (A2JX) | 2022

With the concluding of 11th Asia Pro Bono Conference and Access to Justice Exchange, we are delighted to share with everyone the key highlights from the sessions that were organized by our network members.

Session title: Access to Justice Through Paralegal Pro Bono Support

Facilitated by the BABSEACLE team on September 18th, 2022, the session focused on a number of regional practices where paralegals provide pro bono services as a means to assist communities to achieve access to justice.

We have presenters from 1) Indonesian Grassroots Forum (FARI) shared about how they work as a paralegal, and provide pro bono support, and the benefits of this work to the community, 2) Nepal Law Campus presented on some of the challenges of what paralegals faced doing their pro bono work in Nepal and how they overcome challenges and 3) MyJustice presented on the work some of the pro bono paralegals in Myanmar do and what kind of partnership and support is needed.

Please find the link of the session HERE.

The session discussed many questions:

  1. What is a paralegal? What kind of access to justice work to paralegals do? Where are paralegals based for their work?
  2. What are the benefits of having paralegals be legal service providers?
  3. What are the challenges of having paralegals doing pro bono work?
  4. What partners and support do paralegals need to effectively be legal service providers?

Following the presentation, the large group of participants discussed types of pro bono work paralegals can do even when paid a salary by an organization.

Session title: Legal Empowerment and Pro Bono Synergy: Ensuring Community Consent for Land, Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Rights Protection

Led by our Southeast Asia regional anchor Alternative Law Groups (ALG) with our core regional members Community Resource Centre (CRC) and also Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, we came together on September 22nd, 2022 to discuss how legal empowerment ensures participation and involvement of grassroots communities in the decision- making process in projects that have direct impact on their communities and rights (land rights, Indigenous people’s rights and environmental protection and conservation).

The discussion focused on the various mechanisms, strategies and approaches used by CSOs and paralegals in Southeast Asia to ensure that the grassroots communities’ consent is part of any project development and implementation. It also focused on seeking the Free Prior and Informed Consent from IP communities as well as the consent of communities in general.

Please find the link of the session HERE.

Panelists discussed three major questions on:

  1. What are the policies or mechanisms in your country that provide opportunities for grassroot communities to participation or consent to the implementation of projects that have direct impact on their land, IP and environmental rights?
  2. What are the roles of legal empowerment CSOs and paralegals in ensuring grassroot communities are able to participate or give consent to project developments?
  3. What are your recommendations on how to best improve LE work to ensure grassroot communities are able to participate or consent to projects that have direct impact to their land, IP and environmental rights?

Following the discussion, we broke out into groups for participants to discuss and share their experiences and thoughts. This session also served as a venue in achieving the objective of defining action points for collaboration, strategies, networking, and capacity building.

Session title: Providing Legal Services Remotely, Responding to Crisis, and Expanding Access to Justice

On September 23rd, 2022, New Perimeter/DLA Piper, Legal Development Network, Women’s Business Hub and Twitter conducted a session highlighting global examples of remote pro bono projects that address previously unmet needs and that offer lessons on what practices we should continue even after in-person and traditional services are possible again.

Panelists discussed how providing legal services remotely has assisted them and corresponding challenges. The discussion emphasized on responding to legal issues in a conflict zone (Ukraine), how to use social media to assist in providing legal services remotely; pitfalls and challenges and appearing in court remotely; using virtual platforms to communicate with clients.

Please find the link of the session HERE.

The session also introduced and reintroduced participants to the remote legal guide, “Providing legal services remotely: a guide to available technologies and best practices,” prepared and published by DLA Piper/New Perimeter, the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Legal Empowerment Network (available here).

The audience engaged in a discussion about their experience providing legal services remotely – i.e., ways in which they have been able to pivot their work to address the critical legal needs of their communities and to expand their reach, and tools they will continue to employ. This also allowed panelists and participants to learn from each other and apply these lessons to improve their services during and beyond the current moment.

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Well-done, this is impactful Sylvester