Access to Justice
The Social Justice Lawyer Training Program at BAI is building the next generation of skilled, motivated human rights lawyers working alongside Haiti’s grassroots movements. BAI supports the training and mentorship of lawyers in Haiti, helping to train the next generation of lawyers skilled in international human rights law, and grow human rights and constitutional law practice in Haiti.
The BAI team works with law students and graduates to overcome the barriers to Bar admission in providing structured mentorship for their required thesis, bar exams, and apprenticeship. For graduating law students (finissants) BAI provides formal and informal instruction on research methodology, writing, and legal skills, while finissants prepare their thesis and assist with BAI cases. BAI further serves as a site for apprentice lawyers who have met their requirements and completed legal education, defended their thesis, and been accepted by the bar association. Bar-admitted lawyers receive training and mentorship through a two-year fellowship supported by the Bertha Foundation, during which time they receive intensive, practical training on the BAI model of combined legal and grassroots advocacy. All are mentored by BAI senior attorneys and receive hands on training in movement lawyering through day-to-day work on BAI legal cases.
BAI has a long-standing tradition of training emerging lawyers from Haiti and abroad. In 2013, BAI and IJDH partnered with the Bertha Foundation to launch a fully structured lawyer training program that is integrated into the Be Just Network. IJDH also hosts Bertha Justice Fellows who work between the U.S. and Haiti in close collaboration with peer fellows and BAI staff. There are typically about 10 long-term trainees active at any given time, between the Bertha Fellows and other law graduate trainees at BAI.
The lawyer training program mentors emerging lawyers through the two major obstacles to bar admission—completion of a thesis, and an internship—while providing them with the training they need to become effective people’s lawyers. This work is not just creating a corps of passionate, movement lawyers who work alongside communities to enforce their basic human rights, but is also growing the pipeline of lawyers in Haiti’s legal system who are trained and committed to human rights.