Lawyers Without Borders and attorneys from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher recently returned from a trip to Kenya, where they helped train attorneys and judges on anti-corruption practices.
Beginning last October, more than 20 attorneys from Gibson Dunn’s New York, Munich, London and Washington, D.C., offices, working with the nonprofit, designed training programs and other materials for more than 80 trainees. In all, Gibson Dunn attorneys donated more than 700 hours on the significant pro bono project.
“It’s an unusual pro bono opportunity and one that resonated here at the firm,” said Joel Cohen, a New York-based Gibson Dunn partner who led the project on the firm’s side.
Sapna Desai and Mark Handley, associates in New York and London, respectively, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to help with the five-day training program. In an interview, Desai described the trip as a life-changing experience.
“It was amazing to see how in five days they were able to completely do a 180 and improve on not only their trial skills but on the overall process,” Desai said. “We take for granted a lot of the resources and training we have here.”
“It is a country that has a robust jurisprudential system that is in part based on the British system,” said Cohen, who specializes in white-collar defense and handles anti-corruption matters.
Cohen said that Kenya was a good fit for the training program because the country’s legal practitioners are passionate about rooting out corruption.
“It was our largest program to date and our most successful,” said Christina Storm, executive director of Lawyers Without Borders. “Corruption is a problem everywhere. It’s not just Kenya and it’s not just Africa.”
Storm said that Kenya is one of the few countries where all the laws and court records are available via the Internet.
“This is our sixth year working in Kenya,” she said. “The hope is that after two more years, the program will be a Kenyan-led program.”
The nonprofit first started conducting training programs with the help of Judge Ann Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit, Storm said.
Attorneys from White & Case and Jones Day also participated in the project.
@|Matthew Huisman is a reporter for The National Law Journal, a Law Journal affiliate. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.