A Trinidad proposal, and a bunch more US research -

Another busy week! NCSC put in a proposal for a juvenile justice project in Trinidad & Tobago. For this, the project manager asked that I create several annexes with various information. One was designing a work flow plan for the juvenile justice system and stakeholders in Trinidad & Tobago. Another was a GANTT chart, which is a schedule for projects in which tasks to achieve each objective of the project are outlined and plotted along a timeline to explain how the project will be executed to meet goals. It was useful to see how the program manager tied everything together for each component of the proposal so it was a coherent product, and how different organizations work together on specific goals to accomplish overall change to protect kids there. In chatting with her, it's also good to see how programs are developed for the developing world, and how they may differ from those in post-conflict situations.

Myself and Sarah provided the research to the Vice President in support of his upcoming trip to speak with Nigeria’s Bar about judicial models here in the states. It was a useful discussion, going over specifics on not only what is done in the US but what ideas or opportunities would be best suited towards the system in Nigeria, which is most similar to our federal appointment model. Understanding the role that the Bar plays in working with the judiciary is another topic that normally doesn’t come up in law school but that was of great interest, since it’s a practical matter that will actually impact how we practice or work after graduation.

Our office has continued on with the weekly learning sessions, which have been great for providing perspective on various issues related to rule of law. This week a practicioner who has worked extensively on projects in Afghanistan, West Bank, throughout the Balkans, and a million other areas provided her opinion on how we can make a difference in the rule of law field. She made a great point about making sure that the activity being undertaken fits within the culture that you’re trying to help – the idea that individuals can come in and mirror systems from the US or Europe is pretty misleading. She also highlighted taking into account realistic goals, and considering accomplishments through baby steps, not overblown expectations. She provided an example in which she worked with Afghan government officials to help draft some specific laws. She explained how she walked each person through the process, and made sure there was a good foundation for creating a law that would accomplish specific goals for the government, instead of simply drafting legislation to have something on the books. It was interesting in hearing how she approached things, and made sure that she wasn’t doing the work for the individuals she was assisting, so they’d hopefully have the tools to replicate the process on other issues once she was gone.

This led to an interesting part of the discussion in which she highlighted her pretty bleak outlook for Afghan itself, which brings up another topic that we’ve discussed a few times – how to determine when providing rule of law assistance is a useful enterprise to engage in. There is some sense that the work done on rule of law thus far in Afghanistan may be lost depending on the Taliban’s position after NATO withdrawal, and so there are questions to wrestle with on balancing when it is productive to introduce rule of law ideals or programs, depending on what the security situation of a country is or is likely to be in the near term--kind of reinforced the points made by the project manager earlier in the week about approaching developing country proposals vice post-conflict ones. 

Now that the Trinidad proposal is off, next week we’re going to focus on some more projects. One that should prove interesting is to research potential challenges to LegalZoom and other smilar services, based on how the “practice of law” and regulation of practice may be defined—one of the judicial fellows is looking to balance how we’re dealing with regulations here against certain models in the UK, Australia, and other areas which may allow for non-lawyers to deal with simple legal issues like form wills or non-contested divorces. Til next time!