Cases & Deals

Jones Day partners work in Kenya for Lawyers Without Borders Rule-of-Law project

Client(s) Lawyers Without Borders - Kenya Rule of Law Initiative

Jones Day's Pittsburgh partner Mike Ginsberg and Columbus partner Chad Readler traveled to Nairobi in August to participate in an eight day Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) program focused on improving the trial skills of Kenyan prosecutors and private practitioners who litigate cases involving victims of gender violence. Four U.S. federal judges were among the international team of volunteers, which worked closely with United States Justice and State Department officials and met with U.S. Ambassador Scott Gration in Nairobi.

"I had the privilege to train Kenyan lawyers in 2009, the year before the new constitution," said Mr. Ginsberg. "The sense of hope and optimism in Kenya with the passage of the new constitution and reform of the judiciary is palpable. Our team leader, Judge Ann Williams from Chicago, described Kenya as a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. I saw plenty of evidence of that."

"This was one of those rare, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you don't believe could ever happen." said Mr. Readler. "For a week, our international team helped further the Rule-of-Law in Kenya, where the courts have long battled against inadequate governmental support and corruptive influences. The Kenyan lawyers were extremely appreciative of the training they received and, personally, I was incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to work with them. The cultural awareness I gained will stay with me forever."

Messrs. Readler and. Ginsberg traveled with the international team of judges and lawyers at a critical time in Kenya's legal history. Kenya enacted a new Constitution in 2010, and the Kenyan courts are facing many significant constitutional interpretation issues, including challenges to the make-up of the Kenyan Supreme Court. The country also enacted new sexual assault statutes, which served as the basis for the training provided by the international legal team. Now in its fourth year, the LWOB Kenya program addressed the impact of the new laws and their implementation in the context of a trial, in addition to improving trial advocacy skills through a full mock trial. The mock case involved gender violence in an urban setting, addressing the new sexual assault laws enacted in Kenya.

"Given the Firm's commitment to Rule-of-Law pro bono efforts, we have long been an enthusiastic supporter of Lawyers Without Borders," said Laura Tuell Parcher, Jones Day's Firmwide Partner-in-Charge of pro bono. "We're proud that Mike and Chad took the time and great effort to apply their experience to this important work."

LWOB aims "to provide legal support to Rule of Law projects and initiatives in the human rights and global capacity building sectors; this is achieved using lawyers serving pro bono whenever possible. This approach has proven to exponentially reduce costs to funders, in-country NGOs, and legal communities in developing regions around the world."