Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rule of Law: NITA Taking It Up a Notch

by Jennifer Long

As a staff member in the Development office for the NITA Foundation, I work with those who focus on NITA’s public service efforts, making possible scholarships for public service attorneys who couldn’t afford tuition, and applying for grant funding for free and reduced tuition programs which fill a need in the legal community. One of our recent milestones was creating a partnership with the grassroots rule of law organization Lawyers Without Borders to aid our efforts to expand our training internationally, and to help emerging democracies build stronger legal systems from the ground up.

Rule of Law means that no one is above the law, and ensures that the personalities and emotions of those immersed in the courtroom don’t get in the way of the facts. NITA programs take it up a notch, teaching the art of advocacy, which is integrating those personalities and the emotional intelligence with the facts, and presenting them through the voice of the client. Trying to heal the pain from genocide while building a democracy in a country that was subjected to the capriciousness of dictatorship, for example, requires fashioning the story with the utmost care towards the victims and the intricacies of their stories.

When NITA faculty travel abroad – to South Africa, to Eastern Europe, to Asia – they take with them an intuitive sensitivity to the places they visit, and the host communities haven’t seen much of that. They work with lawyers whose clients are victims of human trafficking, egregious domestic violence, and survivors of apartheid, training them on how to tell these stories to those with the power to affect the clients’ fate. This can only be accomplished with an ethical approach, a goal that justice be served, and a desire to give their clients a foundation to rebuild their lives.

To learn more about the NITA Foundation or to help contribute toward Rule of Law initiatives by donating to our Public Service Programs, please visit us at www.nita.org/foundation

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