Request for advice on paralegal recognition

@fatimaadamu has started a discussion sharing news that her organization and partners in Kano State, Nigeria are working to achieve paralegal recognition there. This is really exciting news as she was also part of the Kampala Declaration meeting that many members participated in rallying for formal recognition of paralegals (for more info: Kampala Declaration on Paralegals).

They have secured one big step, having trained paralegals on panels in mediation courts. Her request for some advice on next steps is here:

Does anyone who has gained advances in formal recognition in their work have some advice as to how to best push this forward further? Perhaps members in South Africa, @KhanyisileNtsenge, or Tanzania have some advice - @Wigayi, @Jovin_Sanga. Or in Kenya, where paralegal recognition was recently added to the new Legal Aid Bill - @Faith, @staceycram, @lauragoodwin, @mustafa_mahmoud. Perhaps @abigailmoy has some general advice? I know Sierra Leone has made significant advances in this area as well, @danielsesay?

Namati is working on an online resource guide outlining the current status of paralegal recognition in many different countries that will be available in a month or so as well, but it would be interesting to hear some of your thoughts here.

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@michaelotto @fatimaadamu that’s a great achievement that they have.One their trained paralegal is on the panel of neutrals in a mediation court. Another has been nominated to join.

To be honest the government recognises the role of paralegals but the stumbling block are the people who feel the competition.

In many cases paralegals reduce workload from lawyer and this to may who view this as competition which in the real sense it isn’t. The paralegals just supplement their work because ultimately they shall need a lawyer when going to court. So my advice to to first start a dialogue with any group that you know may feel you are a threat to their existence. When NRF started, pour aim was to get rid of brokers but we did not throw direct punches at them since we never wanted resistance all we did was to lure the community and at the same time pretending to consult the brokers on the application process. In the long run the tension reduced and they learnt to respect our work and at times came for birth application forms from our offices.

Another model is introducing your paralegal project to all the relevant offices that they shall ever contact. This gives you legal recognition and is a safeguard for you. In the long run they can act as referees of your good work. It begins from grassroot recognition, local government recognition till the ultimate goal of legislative recognition. In Kenya it took decades but the roles of paralegals were felt and recognized especially in the correction and rehabilitation process in prisons and now health and the new citizenship model.

Another opportunity is to push for legal reforms through partnerships with the legal society in your country. In Kenya, Namati is working with the law society of Kenya and Kituo cha sheria to push for the legal aid bill that recognizes the role of paralegals. When the legal fraternity recognises your work then they adopt it and aid in your recognition and if they take you as a competitor then they shall fight for your downfall and believe me that’s not a fight you may want to participate in.

In a nutshell, it a all about building networks from the grassroots till the national level with the ultimate goal of national recognition because if you only target the national recognition and leave the community you plan to assist then they will lack ownership of the paralegals and it shall be another challenge.

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Thank you Mustapha for this elaborate response. We would look at those things you have mentioned that are not already on our list and run with them. Great work you are doing in Kenya. Here in Nigeria, the battle has been with the Nigerian Bar Association an the legal Aid council. Other don’t seem to mind. The greatest take home is the idea of making likely obstacle to achieving our results our friends. we shall put a presentation together to make in one of the meetings of the NBA at the local chapter first. Thank

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Fatima, thank you for the wonderful work you’re doing. I know of organizations that are doing/have done similar work, and I’m really interested in hearing more about your advocacy strategies to see what lessons we can share.

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Hi, sorry I am just responding. the strategy we are currently using is advocacy. We have carried out community education to gain support for the work paralegals do and we plan to have workshops that would be evidence based. At the workshop, beneficiaries of paralegal services would be made to share their stories and paralegal role would be highlighted. Then we would draft a bill in conjunction with the ministry of justice and all other relevant organizations and persons and push for legal recognition. These are the strategies, open to learning other ways. we would also integrate the lesson from Kenya

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@fatimaadamu I think you are on the right track. Keep us posted and remember I am happy to share our experience any time…

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I will be sure to let you know here when we start publishing country sheets on the status of paralegal recognition, which is moving along right now too! Perhaps you both would be available to review them for Kenya and Nigeria too? :slight_smile:

@michaelotto sure I will be delighted to review it.:wink:

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Thanks so much Fatima! Maybe we can schedule a call (skype) to talk a bit more about how we can create a forum to discuss more broadly, lessons from other countries.

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Thank you all i have learned something from this conversation.

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I am new on this platform and have read through your post, it’s amazing to note that we have people promoting paralegal. we registered Pralarg as a non-governmental organization to see to reducing the influx of people to prisons. I started my carrier as a prison officer and through that I discovered that there are five categories of people in prisons. More than 70% percent of the inmates are not supposed to be behind bars. This is where I got my passion doing what we are doing today. I have more than 3000 cases of abuse of right especially against the Nigerian police. I think what we need to work on is the enlightenment of Nigerian citizen to be thought their rights. Most people don’t know the rules guiding them. I build members and encourage them to go through our paralegal training, I have a radio program where we talk of our right under the law. People are thought the power and limitation of the police and other agency of government. We try to do our paralegal work for free though it has not been easy but we encourage our members to help people in their environment to access justice.

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Great Bunmi, where are you guys working. Kindly make contact fatima.adamu@iwei-ng.org we are trying to document best practices and case studies that we would use to engage with the LAC and we would also need to have records of all paralegals working in diffrent locations for purpose of referals and effective advocacy or networking. You may also reach me om 08094790000 during office hours. We do not have Radio programmes but we recently trained and we coordinate paralegals in Kaduna State who are more into awareness and rights education. They identify programmes on Radio where rights and laws are discussed and they get to attend as guests. They are usually call in programmes where people can ask questions. We also have some materials IEC materials on response and checklist on GBV cases that may be of use. Since you focus more violations by law enforcement, we could also share some few contacts and programmes on allies in the police for your consumption. we need everybody to make this work. @michaelotto who knows, Nigeria might be ready to host an exchange next time at the rate we are going.

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I have come across this position paper that you may find helpful (courtesy of SALAN) http://www.salan.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2013-ACCESS-TO-JUSTICE-POSITION-PAPER.pdf

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I appreciates the good job you are doing, Pralarg is already covering three States, a part of Ogun State, Oyo State and a part of Osun state, we have some members in Lagos and Ondo. I will invite you to our seminal one of these days as a guest speaker. I will contact you through the email.

Permit me to also share our contact:

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Hi Olayemi! Welcome to the network. So glad to have you with us. Feel free to join discussions to share your views and experiences, and to ask questions of fellow members.

I removed your phone number and email addresses from your post, which we typically do to protect members from spammers and to keep discussions cleaner. You can always be reached by fellow members via private message here on the community discussion platform (which sends you an email).

You can add full details in your organization’s network profile, which I’ll help you with privately to make sure your personal and organizational details are up to date and look their best.

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Thank You , I am sure it will be helpful.

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Thank You Olayemi, Good to hear from you. We look forward to hearing from you and you may wish to contact me on fatima.adamu@iwei-ng.org for further discussions. JEI is also in lagos.

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Thank you @Chinga for adding another great resource! I have uploaded the resource “Access to justice in Southern Africa: Advocacy for the recognition of paralegals as professionals in SADC region” to our resource library and find it to be an important addition to the advocacy campaigns seeking formal recognition of grassroots legal advocates/community paralegals everywhere, much like the Kampala Declaration on community paralegals of 2012.

I thought this would be interesting for some participants of recent exchanges (@exchange_2016tanzania, @exchange_2015southafrica) as we spoke about formal recognition a lot, especially in Tanzania as they are on the verge of recognition this year. And particularly @Lucimasu, whose organization Legal Resources Foundation is a member of SALAN, as well as Black Sash and the Zanzibar Legal Resource Center.

We will be publishing an online resource guide on formal recognition in the coming weeks and I will be sure to add it to the discussion. Thanks!

Note: @fatimaadamu and @OlayemiAkinwunmi, be sure to update us about your discussion if you take it to email and feel even more free to have that discussion here or in a private message, which also connects directly to your email!

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Thank you Micheal for sharing this. Bisikwa Barbara Legal Officer UGANET P.O Box 70269, Kampala +256-414574531/+256-787671370 BisikwaBarbara@uganet.org/bbisikwa@yahoo.co.uk

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Thanks for this useful thoughts this guide will greatly assist people like us Cameroon who will get inspired and follow the procedure to get recognized. it will be good for us great @DuniJedoh

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