Sustaining Pro Bono Legal Service Providing Through Communities of Practice Groups in Myanmar
13.30 – 15.30 | 18 September
Since 2017, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) Myanmar has formed several communities of practice (COP) groups with over 200 legal service providers in its network. The COP is cultivated and facilitated by the IBJ justice centres in Myanmar. The justice centres provide critical legal aid for criminal cases in Myanmar. They are best positioned to open entry points for pro bono legal service providers to provide legal assistance in their communities. The objectives of the IBJ COP groups are to draw on practitioners’ experiences, provide a platform to respond to questions and challenges faced by pro bono legal service providers, and to build capacities of legal service providers through curated trainings and mentoring sessions.
During the pandemic and in the time of the crisis, legal service providers have gravitated to the IBJ COP groups. The COP groups have been a critical network that provides a conducive and empowering peer-led learning environment for pro bono legal service providers where criminal cases are often referred. IBJ Myanmar has observed that legal service providers have benefitted from the COP groups. They develop confidence and technical knowledge to present legal strategies, challenge rights and procedural violations in courts and malfeasance by Police. The COP discussions help them produce written arguments, citing and referencing legal resources and pertinent provisions in the law. Above all, there is a shared vision and purpose amongst pro bono legal service providers to ensure fair trial rights and early access and robust legal representation is available to indigent and marginalised clients who come in conflict with Myanmar’s criminal justice system.
Drawing strength from our COP work, IBJ Myanmar team will share its practical experience and knowledge of setting up communities of practice groups in Myanmar. Through a combination of sharing of experiences through presentations, brainstorming, ideation the participants will have an improved and methodological understanding of the steps required to build and sustain an inclusive, peer-led community of practice group that can foster pro bono legal service providing in their communities.