Pilot Program Structure
The Task Force has already secured thirteen to fifteen full-tuition scholarships from nine law schools, and many more law schools are likely to participate. But scholarships are only tuition waivers, and participants will need to support themselves (and, in some cases, their families) while they earn their LLM degrees and take the bar exam. The Pilot Program seeks to provide stipends to help cover the cost of their housing and other living expenses. In its first year, the Pilot Program seeks to serve up to ten and no more than twenty Afghan legal professionals who are already in the U.S.
The Pilot Program will provide mentors to help Afghan legal professionals apply for admission to LLM programs, answer questions during those programs, and address issues that may arise during bar exam preparation. The Task Force plans to arrange for bar review courses for Pilot Program participants, free of charge.
The Pilot Program will include preparatory mentoring for individuals not ready to pursue an LLM, and it will assist participants with finding employment. The Pilot Program plans to arrange for English proficiency assistance and testing.
Pilot Program participants cannot be enrolled without funding, and financial support ensures that participants can focus on their studies. The Pilot Program seeks contributions. For information on ABA recognition levels for contributions by law firms, corporations and individuals, go to: http://www.wlrk.com/docs/ABA_Afghan_Legal_Professionals_Pilot_Program_Recognition_Levels.pdf. You can make a tax-deductible contribution online at www.ambar.org/donateITL.
Before starting LLM programs, our Afghan colleagues need jobs. The Task Force urges law firms, corporations, and court systems to employ Afghan judges, prosecutors, and lawyers. Firms should consider hiring participants as paralegals, legal assistants, document reviewers, or translators until they become eligible to practice law in the US. Firms with an Islamic Finance practice or other legal practice involving Sharia law and customs, as well as those that require Dari or Pashto language expertise, may wish to engage participants as consultants. Law firms, corporations, and other organizations are encouraged to hire Afghan LLM graduates as lawyers, once they are qualified.
Program participants are highly motivated, educated, and experienced professionals, who will benefit firms in many ways, including civic and diversity initiatives. Participating law firms will receive public recognition through the ABA Fund for Justice and Education and other ABA communications. Most of all, firms will help our Afghan colleagues rebuild their professional lives and support the rule of law from within the U.S. legal system.
The Pilot Program seeks volunteers to help in several ways:
- Refer participants to entities that provide pro bono immigration legal services (the provision of such legal services is outside the Pilot Program’s scope);
- Serve as mentors to help Afghan legal professionals (a) apply to LLM programs and guide participants throughout those programs, (b) answer questions regarding the bar exam, (c) seek employment within the U.S. legal system; and
- Raise funds to pay for housing and living expenses for Pilot Program participants.
Support from the U.S. legal community will help ensure that our brave and accomplished colleagues from Afghanistan will rebuild their legal careers in the United States.
For more information, please contact Task Force Chair Mike Byowitz ([email protected]), Task Force Vice Chair Dana Katz ([email protected]) or Task Force Member Harry Baumgarten ([email protected]).