The ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program (Pilot Program) seeks to help rekindle the legal careers of Afghan judges, lawyers, and prosecutors who have resettled in the United States during or after August 2021. The Pilot Program has two top priorities, to provide:
- Preparatory Assistance Mentoring (PAM) services (without financial assistance) to those preparing to pursue an LLM degree or other law-related course of study and/or finding employment in the U.S. legal system in non-lawyer capacities; and
Scholarship and Mentoring (SAM) services (with financial assistance in appropriate cases) to those who have obtained a full tuition scholarship and seek assistance with their LLM studies and bar exam preparation. The Pilot Program has secured and will continue to seek commitments of full tuition scholarships from ABA-accredited law schools throughout the U.S. To date, 15 law schools have agreed to provide full tuition scholarships to deserving candidates. These scholarships waive the cost of tuition and fees to attend LLM programs for foreign lawyers. SAM also seeks to provide stipends to help cover housing and living expenses for scholarship recipients who meet the program criteria. Charitable support from donors like you – individuals, law firms, corporations, and other organizations – makes these stipends possible.
Prior to the U.S. leaving Afghanistan in August 2021, judges, lawyers, and prosecutors received legal education and valuable work experience under the US-enabled legal system. Many developed expertise in their areas of practice and had distinguished careers. Those who were forced to flee the country left behind their careers and a great deal more. In recognition of the courage, sacrifices, and contributions of Afghan judges, lawyers, and prosecutors to civil society and the advancement of the rule of law, the Pilot Program seeks to mentor and provide resettled Afghan legal professionals—especially women—access to legal education, accreditation, and training that will allow them to pursue law career opportunities in the US.
Pilot Program Strategy
The Pilot Program draws on the ABA community of lawyers to serve as volunteer mentors to Afghan legal professionals. Mentors and mentees are matched through the Pilot Program to guide Afghan legal professionals who are pursuing law-related education, certification, and employment opportunities in the US.
The Pilot Program was designed to support those participants who wish to become qualified as lawyers in the United States. In many cases, obtaining a one-year LLM degree for foreign lawyers will allow Afghan legal professionals to take a US bar exam and become licensed to practice in several states and DC. The Pilot Program seeks to aid LLM candidates with obtaining full tuition scholarships from US law schools. In appropriate cases, scholarship recipients may apply for stipend awards to help cover housing and living expenses. These stipends are made possible through charitable investments from individuals, law firms, and donor advised funds. The Pilot Program also seeks support from foundations and other organizations.
The Pilot Program is intended as a one-year program to provide proof of concept for a broader potential scholarship and mentoring program that, in subsequent years, could potentially serve larger numbers of legal professionals from Afghanistan and serve as a template for similar programs for legal professionals from other countries.
You can help the Pilot Program by making a charitable investment, volunteering to become a mentor, or joining the all-volunteer ABA International Law Section’s Afghan Legal Professionals Resettlement Task Force, which administers the Pilot Program.
Make A Charitable Investment
Charitable dollars help fund the stipends that assist with housing and living expenses, along with other necessary expenses (e.g., books) during the academic year while the student is studying for an LLM degree and, in some cases, during the time it takes to prepare for the bar exam.
The various levels of contributions and the ABA recognition associated with each level can be found here:
- ABA Afghan Legal Professionals Scholarship & Mentoring Pilot Program Charitable Investments and Benefits
Donations of any size are crucial to continuing the Pilot Program. Please consider urging your law firm’s or company’s generosity and donate your own gift of personal significance at ambar.org/donateITL. If you or your law firm, corporation, or other organization would like more information about contributing, please contact [email protected] with the subject line, “Request to Information about Giving” and a Task Force member will be in touch to discuss.
The Task Force is deeply grateful for the individuals and law firms that have already helped launch this life-changing Pilot Program.