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Morocco Develops a New Legal Aid Model

Moroccan and Bulgarian counterparts discuss the challenges in providing legal aid.

Moroccan and Bulgarian counterparts discuss the challenges in providing legal aid.

January 2010 

Providing effective legal representation for the poor is a challenge in Morocco. While regional bar associations administer a system for providing pro bono representation for the indigent, assignments often fall to young and inexperienced lawyers. Depending on the type of case, potential clients may not receive any representation at all. With funding from the Embassy of the Netherlands, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has partnered with the Moroccan Federation of Young Lawyers (FYL) and the Rabat Bar Association to develop a more effective model for delivering legal aid. Once the model is completed, ABA ROLI’s partners will advocate for its adoption by Morocco’s government. 

In developing the model, ABA ROLI organized a November 2009 study tour to the Netherlands and Bulgaria for six prominent Moroccan lawyers. In the Netherlands, the delegation visited the National Bureau of Judicial Assistance, a regional legal aid office, and a law firm specializing in legal aid. These visits shed light on the role of lawyers under the Dutch legal aid system and offered insights into alternative mechanisms for funding legal aid programs.

In Bulgaria, ABA ROLI collaborated with the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (a successor entity that ABA ROLI helped create) to organize several meetings, including visits to the National Legal Aid Office and the Sofia Bar Association. The participants commented on Bulgaria’s fiscal challenges to the provision of legal aid and its relevancy to the situation in Morocco.

Lessons learned during the study tour are informing efforts to update the current legal aid model.

To learn more about the Rule of Law Initiative’s work in Morocco, contact us at