FAQs

What is a "Senior Lawyer"?

ISLP strives to provide legal support of the highest caliber, delivered pro bono by attorneys with decades of experience. There is no exact definition, but "senior lawyers" are often partner-level or with a minimum of 15 years - and usually 20 to 30+ years - of legal experience.

Is ISLP for retired lawyers only?

Not at all. ISLP uses lawyers in active practice as well as retired lawyers. 

Who can volunteer?

ISLP relies upon legal experts from all over the world for its projects. There are ISLP offices in New York, London and Paris, but senior-level lawyers from anywhere can become involved by filling out the Volunteer Registration Form online.

Is there a way for younger lawyers to get involved?

ISLP works closely with pro bono coordinators at 40+ law firms each year on important projects that utilize associates, under the supervision of a partner, for desk-based research and analysis.  This work is tremendously valuable to the clients, many of whom do not have the resources for outside assistance, much less the top-quality legal help provided by these firms and their lawyers.

Who are ISLP's clients?

ISLP primarily assists non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and grassroots organizations and governments of developing countries.  Many of our partners are listed here

Does ISLP provide pro bono assistance in countries such as the U.K., U.S. or Western Europe?

Not generally. ISLP's focus is to provide assistance to groups in the least-developed areas of the world that are in dire need of pro bono legal support. The exception would be NGOs based in these countries that themselves provide assistance to groups in need around the world and do not have the resources for legal assistance.

Does ISLP represent individuals?

As a general rule ISLP cannot represent individuals in overseas courts, and its model is focused on serving clients that are NGOs, civil society groups, and developing country governments.  In many cases, ISLP lawyers work with government ministries or civil society organizations that have their own lawyers on staff.

How do I register to be an ISLP volunteer?

If you are a lawyer interested in volunteering, please fill in and submit the online Volunteer Registration Form .

How can my organization apply for pro bono legal assistance?

If your organization would like to apply for pro bono legal assistance from ISLP, the first step is to fill out this application form.  When we receive the completed application, we will review it to determine whether the work of your organization appears to fall within ISLP's mission and whether you have legal needs that we can address at this time.  If your group meets these criteria, we will contact you to further discuss your organization and its legal needs. 

How long are overseas volunteer missions?

Projects where volunteers travel overseas can vary in duration from 1-2 weeks for workshops and trainings to 2-3 months onsite.

How does a lawyer become involved in an ISLP project?

Each pro bono project is thoroughly discussed with the client, after which ISLP program staff prepare a description of the project with background information on the partner, issue, region, legal expertise needed, length of mission, etc. This description is used by ISLP to identify lawyers within our global network with this expertise and then to communicate directly with them about the project. Once an ISLP lawyer is identified, planning calls are held with the client, ISLP staff provide assistance with the travel logistics and support and the project is underway.

How is a mission planned?

In preparation for an on-site assignment, ISLP works with both the partner and legal volunteer to outline the goals of the assignment, its timing and responsibilities of each in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The selected legal expert plays an active role in helping develop the MOU for their mission. Throughout the assignment, they will communicate regularly with ISLP staff with project updates and ISLP will continue to provide any needed guidance and assistance.

Is there a list of available projects I can look at?

ISLP carefully selects each legal expert for its overseas projects from our database of interested lawyers. There is generally not an open list of volunteer projects, but when there is a need for volunteers with special skills, such as speakers of certain languages, experts within a certain legal system, etc. we may reach out to a broader pool. The best way to let ISLP know of your interest in volunteering is to submit an online Volunteer Registration Form and to subscribe to the monthly ISLP newsletters for updates.

Are there paid consulting opportunities?

No. ISLP provides an opportunity for lawyers with a deep commitment to global justice to volunteer their time and skills.

Is a volunteer required to pay for everything for their trip?

No. ISLP covers the basic costs associated with travel - economy class airfare, modest accommodation (this can be a hotel for shorter stays or an apartment for longer missions), visa and vaccination costs, airport transfer in the project country, emergency travel insurance, and occasionally other items.  The volunteers are generally responsible for their own meals, as they would be at home.  Meals may be included in workshops or other training programs or with the accommodations.  Each project has its own arrangements depending on the partner, duration, etc.

Is it safe to travel to these countries?

While ISLP does frequently assist organizations in post-conflict countries, we are careful to consult many sources such as our local partners on the ground, the State Department, other NGOs in the region, and other resources if there is any concern about an area where we are considering asking a volunteer to travel.   

How far in advance will I know if I have been selected for an overseas mission?

Each project is unique, so the time before departure can vary.  One month is generally considered the minimum time for planning, with 2-3 months notice more the norm. There are also projects where the ISLP legal experts work with the client from home via email and telephone before their departure.  The timing for a project can also be tied to the urgency of the request by the partner/client.