LWOB was conceived in January of 2000 to create a global association of lawyers committed to internationally oriented Pro Bono service and rule of law.
LWOB relies extensively (but not exclusively) upon volunteer lawyers, students, law firms and other professionals to accomplish its mission. At any given time up to 100-200 lawyers from around the world have been involved in one aspect of another of support of LWOB or its international programming. Our goal is to provide opportunities to strategically channel pro bono hours into rule of law programming as much as possible. While some assignments call for international field work, we recognize that most lawyers have constraints that make international service impractical and for them, we work very hard to fashion program support projects and research that taps into very nuanced practice expertise and can be undertaken from their offices. This approach to LWOB’s work, often ensures that the best and most qualified lawyers are involved in program development and program materials.
Our programming is structured to facilitate an important role for pro bono service. In the industry this pro bono role is the LWOB “cost-share” component which is typically significant and exponentially leverages grant funds that support project initiatives.
LWOB is committed to practical, concrete programming that has an observable and measurable impact and results. We strive to make our programming interactive, engaging and effective.
From an interview with Christina M. Storm (founder)…
“I was 45 years old and had spent 20+ years as a trial lawyer with experience in family law, civil litigation, corporate defense of employment discrimination and criminal defense of minor crimes. Most of my personal financial goals had been achieved and I found myself searching for a way to give back. I loved the law and wanted whatever volunteer or pro bono I performed, to be in the legal field.
One day, after spending literally months scouring the internet for pro bono opportunities, I began to realize that nothing close to what I’d envisioned existed for members of the legal profession. It was disappointing. It occurred to me others had to be experiencing the same frustration. Perhaps my skills would be well suited to creating the chance to exponentially increase my impact by creating a vehicle for hundreds of lawyers to serve. I was sure that in one respect, I was not unique, confident that there had to be many lawyers who shared my eleemosynary leanings.
Shocked that the domain name Lawyerswithoutborders.org was still available for purchase, I took the first step by purchasing the domain name, www.Lawyerswithoutborders.org followed by all the necessary legal steps required to launch a dual purposed organization: 1) to increase opportunities for pro bono service for lawyers from a diverse array of practice areas and 2) to develop rule of law programming that involved and depended upon the work of lawyers serving the underserved at home and abroad.
The initial reaction? Many in the international rule of law community scoffed at the idea of a woman being useful in the world’s conflict environments or that a country lawyer had what it took to spearhead a global project of potentially mammoth proportions. After testing the model with a personal long-term pro bono challenge the Middle East during the intifadeh 2000, I was confident that the business plan was a good one.
Family and friends were the first major donors to the effort and largely sustained it while I, together with a small group of committed volunteers, wrestled with how to “cross borders” and take the best skills of a wide variety of lawyers from around the world and fashion them into a useful tools in developing regions, regions emerging from conflict or regions in or contemplating transition.
Over the years, we progressed from 500 sq. ft of office space donated by my own firm to headquarters in Connecticut with volunteers, interns and staff in Washington DC, New York, and London. We have carefully constructed an organization that has managed, framed and met the legal profession’s commitment to give back on a global level. LWOB has worked hard to cultivate a diverse array of pro bono legal resources, rule of law operations strategies and “outside the box” innovative programs and modules.We work with lawyers from every sector; from the major international firms to solo and small firm practitioners.
LWOB represents one of the few of its kind–an international initiative whose work is anchored by volunteer lawyers working pro bono from around the world with a singular common objective–to cross borders to make a difference.
Those who said it couldn’t be done, were very simply, wrong.”