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Matt S.

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1 reviews

Review for International Bridges To Justice, Boston, MA, USA

Rating: 4 stars  

I volunteered with IBJ for two months in their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. While there, I primarily worked on developing training materials for criminal defense lawyers in several Indian states. The organization works to improve the quality of representation available to criminal defendants in developing countries who cannot afford to hire lawyers. Their method is to recruit promising attorneys from the local community as fellows who then go out and train other attorneys in best practices in criminal defense work. The mission should be incredibly important to anyone concerned about human rights and anyone who appreciates the importance of affording accused persons adequate representation. Methodologically, IBJ has chosen the right approach: their programs focus on working with local legal services networks and capitalizing on the expertise of the attorneys there rather than imposing any pre-fabricated program that does not take account of local variations. The group's emphasis on the fellows as the primary engines of reform and activism is a key part of their success and of their organizational philosophy.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The results of the training program demonstrated to me the importance of the work that IBJ is doing. The training program clearly galvanized local attorneys to become involved in pro-bono criminal defense work, which is an incredibly important service in a country that does not have a robust public defender system.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would encourage them to frame a clear set of interim goals in the areas where they are working and to think in terms of what external effect they hope to accomplish beyond raising the number of training sessions. The group has a very strong sense of ultimate purpose, and that purpose will be even better served if they remain focused on concrete goals that lead toward whatever long-term institutional changes they hope to achieve.

Role:  Volunteer & I spent two months working on creating a training program for criminal defense attorneys in the Indian state of West Bengal. .