Lawyers Without Borders is a nonprofit organization based in the United States which provides legal assistance to countries and organizations which need it. The organization is run on the principle of neutrality, with the goal of offering balanced, useful service to the third world. Lawyers Without Borders has several offices in other nations, including Canada, and it works in a number of developing nations including Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. Lawyers Without Borders is not the same organization as Avocats Sans Frontieres, a French-based legal aid organization.
This organization was founded in New York City in 2000, and it quickly grew, thanks to global interest from lawyers and law students who were interested in supporting legal causes. It is supported with funding from individual donors and organizations, along with generous donations of time from lawyers and legal interns. Lawyers Without Borders has gained accolades from organizations like the United Nations and numerous groups which promote pro bono legal work.
There are several different arms to the Lawyers Without Borders mission. The organization provides neutral observers for tribunals and trials, offers pro bono work to nonprofits and NGOs which can benefit from legal assistance, mentors lawyers in the developing world, provides legal resources such as books or counsel to struggling countries, and connects students with the international community. Several law schools have Lawyers Without Borders branches on their campuses to coordinate student volunteer programs.
Lawyers Without Borders focuses most of its work on organizations, not individuals. People who need legal assistance are encouraged to approach individual legal aid organizations, some of which may be supported by Lawyers Without Borders programs. The exception to this rule is the Lawyers at Risk program, which offers assistance to lawyers who are dealing with death threats, persecution, and false accusations in the course of their human rights work.
The work of the organization is overseen by an extensive board of directors who help to maintain the organization's integrity. At any given time, a number of internships with Lawyers Without Borders are typically available in various offices around the world, and the organization also keeps their job listings current, for people who are interested in a career with the organization. Lawyers Without Borders also maintains a database of legal jobs and resumes to help lawyers and potential employers connect with each other.