Lawyers Without Borders

A colleague was asking me recently about volunteer or work opportunities for lawyers abroad and I immediately thought of the work of the International Development Committee (IDC) of the Canadian Bar Association (I was fortunate to be on the committee for 6 years and participate in several missions to Africa). Most of their work is funded through the Canadian International Development Agency or other external funders (i.e., the cost of their overseas work does not come from CBA member dues) and is intended to support the rule of law in developing countries (among other things). Recent IDC projects have included work in Bangladesh, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, China, East Africa, Jamaica, Nepal, South Africa, Southeast Asia and Zimbabwe. They are finding huge interest among law students and younger lawyers.

Another similar effort appears to be the work of Lawyers Without Borders, a non-profit corporation that attempts to place lawyers and students with NGOs and other lawyers. As stated on their website, their work in regions in crisis (such as Haiti) starts when the humanitarian crisis subsides (and they are encouraging readers to therefore support Doctors Without Borders regarding the crisis in Haiti). They have a number of positions offered here. Increasingly, large law firms are also getting involved in international pro bono projects, both because it is a good thing to do and because they want to retain lawyers who are interested in doing short-term opportunities to do pro bono work.


  1. A year ago or so Doctors Without Borders was asking other “without borders” groups to stop using the name: They’ve apparently picked on librarians and engineers. Have they given lawyers a pass, I wonder?