iProbono offers free legal aid for NGOs

May 2015 | The Daily Star

A non-government organisation in need of legal assistance in any area of its functions or for itself may seek it free from iProbono, a global network of civil society bodies.

The online networking platform connects practicing lawyers, law firms, law students and schools with the organisations needing legal aid, Shaveena Anam, Bangladesh country director of iProbono, told a meeting of NGOs at Manusher Jonno Foundation office in the capital yesterday.

With such networking not widely in practice in Bangladesh, iProbono started its journey here last November engaging 11 lawyers from four law firms with the network, she said.

So far, iProbono Bangladesh has undertaken five projects on resolving issues requiring legal assistance on registration, trademark, intellectual property rights, advice, tax, employment training, and contractual reviews, said Shaveena.

It saves NGOs money and provides them access to legal expertise regarding registration, compliance, contract signing, and victim support, added Priyanka Dahiya, programme director of iProbono in India.

An NGO can register or post a specific need of legal assistance on the iProbono website, she said, adding that the platform facilitated two sets of professionals for legal assistance until an issue was settled.

iProbono has so far accomplished 610 projects on resolving legal issues of 1,200 civil society organisations from 28 countries making a social impact worth $6.6 million, said Priyanka.

It provides a platform for good social exposure for lawyers, she said. “It gives them a feeling of fulfilment that they made a professional contribution to the society in a big way.”

Sk Farzana Ahmed, advocacy officer of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), said iProbono networking would create a sense of responsibility among the lawyerstowards the society.

Asif bin Anwar, a Supreme Court lawyer, said it was a wonderful way of bringing together lawyers and NGOs for legal services.

iProbono providing assistance to NGOs, charities, and social enterprises connects the lawyers and law students who want to contribute their skills for the public good.

Founded in London in 2009 and in New Delhi the following year, iProbono is funded by Ford Foundation and Commonwealth Foundation.

Selina Ahmed, executive director of Acid Survivors Foundation; Sankalita Shome, programme manager of; Shahana Siddiqui, head of communication at; and Md Munir Uddin, assistant coordinator of Uttaran, among other development activists, were present.

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