Want to get involved in advocacy and social justice but not sure where to start? Check out Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB), an organization that works on international projects using pro bono legal work to benefit the public. With headquarters in New Haven, CT, the impact of LWOB’s nonprofit work reaches as far as West Africa and Southeast Asia, and areas closer to home like the Caribbean and Latin America.
Check out more information on the groundbreaking work that Lawyers Without Borders does.
What we do
Lawyers Without Borders works with the United Nations in their Economic and Social Council Division and the UN’s Department of Public Information. Also LWOB has accreditation status with the UN on the issues in Palestine. Lawyers Without Borders works primarily on projects concerning trial advocacy, community outreach and ethics in detention facilities. Their website describes their main goal as “to strengthen the Rule of Law and grow the role of pro bono lawyers in Rule of Law programming—promoting a culture of pro bono that takes the best lawyers have to offer and making that available to those in the world whose needs are underserved.”
Lawyers Without Borders works differently than other pro bono organizations. Instead of simply donating money to groups in need or just giving information to those groups, Lawyers Without Borders develops their own projects and works in tandem with large law firms and high-quality lawyers. Lots of their projects have continued for years, like the Liberia Digest Project which has gone on for eleven years.
Who we help
LWOB strives to help those affected by gender–based and domestic violence, human trafficking, electoral violence, child labor and so many others that I can’t even name them all. In partnering with the world’s largest law firms, LWOB has the resources to help an astronomical number of people and communities.
Lawyers Without Borders has projects ongoing or developing in Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Namibia, Belize, Jamaica, Indonesia and more. With this massive expanse of reach, Lawyers Without Borders provides information on their projects in countless languages like Swahili, Amharic and Nepali to ensure access to all who need it.
What it’s really like
Lawyers Without Borders stays pretty under-the-radar in order to focus on their mission and not publicity. The organization remains politically neutral, but because of the nature of their work and the high stakes involved, they usually do not disclose the developments of their projects until they have or a part of the project has finished. Based on the kind of work the lawyers with LWOB do, the organization maintains their safety by keeping confidential the locations of their satellite offices and keeping their work out of the headlines of the international press.
How to get involved
If you don’t want to work with LWOB as a volunteer or intern, they always welcome donations. Because it’s a nonprofit, the organization functions pretty much only on donations from supporters. Given that Lawyers Without Borders does pro-bono legal work, donations essentially keeping the organization running. Also LWOB provides a list of other organizations and internships it works with that you can explore to fit your passions and interests.
Skills that impress them
Lawyers Without Borders loves interns and workers that speak and write fluently in English (additional languages don’t hurt), have strong academic transcripts and genuinely want to help those that the world has ignored. Taking initiative in your work and working cooperatively in a team setting help you prove yourself an asset in their offices.
If you want to get involved in LWOB’s work as a college student, you can donate, volunteer or intern. Volunteers can help out with research, representing the organization and trial training. You can even volunteer remotely (aka not on-site) if you choose to work in writing or media. If you do work on site, then LWOB expects at least 2 to 3 days of work per week. Also, if you use Amazon for any of your college/life needs, try using AmazonSmile and choosing Lawyers Without Borders as the charity. Amazon will donate a portion of the cost of your purchase to the organization.