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DEC 2018
BANGLADESH

Discussion on ‘Legal Academia and Pro Bono Culture’

The Centre for Advanced Legal Studies (CALS), University of Dhaka (DU), in collaboration with iProbono, hosted a Discussion Session on ‘Legal Academia and Pro-bono Culture’ on December 9, 2018 at the Faculty of Law, DU. Ms. Mariam Faruqi, South Asia Regional Director, iProbono was the Keynote Speaker of the event while Professor Dr. Md. RahmatUllah, Dean, Faculty of Law, DU, was the Chief Guest. Advocate Sultana Kamal graced the session as the Special Guest and Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh chaired the program.

The event kicked off with the inaugural address from Professor Dr. Nakib Muhammad Nasrullah, acting Chairman, Department of Law, DU. Dr. Nasrullah remarked that pro-bono is an effective way to connect the civil society with the lawyers and law students. He opined that engaging in pro-bono activities requires a certain mindset and that law students and legal professionals should be self-inspired to take part in pro-bono activities in the society.

He was succeeded by Ms. Mariam Faruqi, who introduced iProbono to the participants and highlighted the activities of the organisation through a short video presentation. She underlined the importance of a strong network of lawyers to deal with the pro-bono litigations and the importance of student engagement in pro-bono activities. Speaking of iProbono’s operations in Bangladesh, Ms. Faruqi informed the participants about their current engagements with the corporate sector and their aim of providing clinical legal service to the poor and the marginalised as well as rights-based policy advocacy. She propounded that it is in policy advocacy where the law students can engage the most with iProbono.

Afterward, Advocate Sultana Kamal briefly shared the work of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) in providing pro-bono legal service to the poor litigants of Bangladesh and how ASK transformed into a human rights organisation from a legal aid organisation. She cautioned the participants from assuming that they were giving other’s their rights while engaging in pro-bono lawyering. Rather, she reiterated that it is our moral duty to fight for other’s rights, which they have acquired by virtue of their birth as human beings.

In his speech, the chief guest, Dr. Rahmat Ullah propounded that it is the duty of every law student to serve the people and establish a society where justice prevails. Moreover, he commented that anyone at any point in time maybe in need of pro-bono service and the law students must always be ready to provide as such. Stating that legal research is an integral part of pro-bono lawyering, he restated the commitment of CALS to assist the students of the faculty in their research works in near future.

rofessor Dr. MizanurRahmanthen delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of CALS. He reminded the students to always provide quality pro-bono service to the litigants and to discharge this duty with utmost care since it is not an instance of charity. Additionally, he noted that the decision to pursue a certain remedy always lies with the client and that lawyers should never take decisions on behalf of their clients. He rather asked them to provide the clients with all the possible remedies and then diligently pursue the one chosen by the client.

This article is taken from The Daily Star.