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It was Super Bowl Sunday 2000, and Christina Storm was having one of those just-crazy-enough-to-work epiphanies that everyone seemed to be having in the days before the bottom fell out of the Nasdaq. Only Storm’s idea was unusual in two ways — it wasn’t intended to make money, and it actually made sense. At the time, Storm ran a small law firm with her husband, in Hartford, Conn. But now she had a fresh vision of her future: to assemble an international network of experienced attorneys who would assist needy defendants, for free; to offer Western-based mediation to resolve faraway conflicts; and to create a quality, affordable legal resource for nonprofit organizations around the world. The whole thing would be feasible thanks to the Internet. Less than two years after that fateful Sunday, Lawyers Without Borders (not affiliated with the more familiar Doctors Without Borders) is a burgeoning international legal aid group. Among its most notable accomplishments: Lawyers Without Borders attorneys recently instructed lawyers in Kosovo on how best to work with forensic evidence in a case involving an alleged violent criminal. And LWOB attorneys have helped lawyers from a victim-advocacy organization in South Africa to prosecute child-sexual-abuse cases. WHAT INSPIRED STORM? Like many middle-aged baby boomers, Storm — who was 46 at the time and had a successful career in employment discrimination law — got to thinking past her career achievements, back to her youthful ideals. “I said to myself, ‘This is not what I intended to do with my life. I meant to do international law.’ “ Storm has since rounded up a vast network of supporters and pro bono partners, and she’s even done a little fieldwork of her own. At work in East Jerusalem, she found herself standing at a checkpoint during a Palestinian Intifada uprising — with a gun pointed at her head. “My family got a little excited when they heard about it,” she concedes. As LWOB builds steam, Storm aims to develop partnerships between committed lawyers (young and old), human rights groups, and universities around the world. Eventually, she hopes to open offices in nations that need legal aid. Her greatest challenge so far has been fund raising. “There’s never enough money to accomplish the task with the perfection you’re accustomed to in the private sector,” she says. Does Storm miss the income and comfort of her old job? Absolutely. But when doubt creeps in, she thinks about the George Eliot quote that launched this whole scheme: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” This article originally appeared in the September 2001 issue of JD Jungle.

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