Building Judicial Capacity and Peace in Developing and Transitional Nations

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Lawyers without Borders
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Lawyers Without Borders is a not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to protect the integrity of legal process, serve the underserved, and promote the culture of pro bono service in the legal profession- all with a neutral orientation. It fulfills its mission through advocacy training, cultivating lawyer skill sets to create effective strategies in the human rights and development sectors, neutral observation and engagement in programs that provide capacity building and technical assistance in developing regions and regions emerging from conflict.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Impact Story

Using Microsoft technologies and products, Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) is working to build judicial systems and spread democracy and peace throughout the world, one nation at a time. LWOB provides support and training to governments, legal professionals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities to promote adherence to rule of law as a means for protecting human rights. Through LWOB, Microsoft is contributing to positive social change in developing and transitional countries.


LWOB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization registered in the State of Connecticut. LWOB holds special consultative status before the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations and is accredited by both the UN and the World Bank. It is internationally recognized by numerous governments, NGOs and the practicing law community for its pro bono legal work and strict neutrality mandate. LWOB has conducted programming in Liberia, Namibia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya and Cuba to build capacity in the legal sector, support the integrity of judicial process, champion the democratic process and observance of rule of law and protect the rights of vulnerable populations.

LWOB’s Use of Microsoft Products to Create a Stable and Secure IT Infrastructure and Optimize Mission Delivery

LWOB was created in 2001 by Christina Storm, who observed that experienced senior lawyers with a desire to serve in a pro bono capacity were not being afforded international opportunities to do so. She also noted that many NGOs and third world governments could not afford to engage attorneys with the qualifications needed to deliver truly effective programs for change. Finally, there was insufficient attention to rule of law programming in international efforts to build capacity in developing countries.

To address these issues, Christina established LWOB, which she financed out of her own pocket. At the time, she relied upon information technology that was certainly insufficient to serve as a foundation for managing a global network of volunteer lawyers and international projects. Fortunately, an IT volunteer used Microsoft Windows servers to establish a platform for LWOB’s operations. Microsoft Office programs were used to satisfy LWOB’s communication and document production needs. Microsoft servers were used to link terminals and store data. LWOB now has a stable IT foundation. Administrative functions can be managed by limited staff, project and funding opportunity research and documents are readily accessible, databases of volunteers are automatically updated and a user-friendly website has been constructed.

Use of Microsoft Technology at the Project Level

The Liberia Story: Brutal civil war has plagued Liberia for more than half of the past two decades. Between 1989 and 2003, more than 500,000 Liberians were killed and more than 1 million others were displaced. War destroyed the country’s economic infrastructure and made a shambles of government systems. It also deconstructed the legal system, leaving few legally educated judges and lawyers to administer justice. Legal resources were also destroyed in the war.

LWOB began working with the Liberian legal community in 2004 to provide law books and reference materials and supplies. In time, LWOB augmented this process by providing typewriters for use in the courts. We are now working on a case law digest for judges and lawyers to improve case management. In 2007, LWOB completed a trial advocacy training program for defense/prosecution lawyers to improve trial skills and protect the rights of the accused. As a result of LWOB’s efforts, Liberian judges and lawyers now have legal resources and enhanced skills to perform their work. The trial advocacy training program received rave reviews and the judiciary is earnestly awaiting additional LWOB training programs.

Throughout its work in Liberia, LWOB has relied on Microsoft products to deliver its services and manage its project teams. LWOB’s technical platform let us gather donated reference materials, typewriters, and other needed supplies and coordinate with the Liberian legal community to get to them into the right hands. LWOB is using Microsoft products to build a digest of Liberian case law, and Microsoft Office products are used to create all training materials. In short, by using Microsoft technology as the foundation for its operations, LWOB has contributed to rebuilding judicial capacity in Liberia. This will inevitably lead to justice for all Liberians and bring peace and stability to nation with a history of violent conflict.

The Cuba Story: While pressure to bring Cuba in line with international standards for freedom of expression and fair representation is strong, Cuban activists and legislators lack a resource for affecting change. Although there has been a desire to transition to a more democratic system, up until LWOB became involved, there was a lack of a comprehensive legal analysis to identify the impediments to legitimate elections in Cuba. LWOB sought to fill this void with a comprehensive analysis of the body of Cuban legislation as compared to international elections standards. The result was an electoral roadmap which can be used by Cubans if and when the government decides to initiate reform and embrace free and fair elections.

To execute the project, LWOB assembled an international legal team of elections experts. As the makeup of the team spanned continents and time zones, LWOB knew that project research and work must be generated online. LWOB chose to use the Microsoft Windows Sharepoint Server, which it determined to be the best choice based on its security, ease to use, back-up features, and compatibility with existing Microsoft software. The Cuba project Sharepoint portal was not only a document database, but also a platform to post news and share ideas. The security capabilities of the portal allowed for the exchange of sensitive data rather than through insecure email connections. Given the political situation in Cuba, security was a primary concern. The Sharepoint portal was essential to the success of the project. Communication between approximately 60 lawyers from around the globe, as well as access to research and work product, would have been much more difficult and time consuming without the technology. The LWOB report, published as “Proyecto Electoral: La Hoja de Ruta is now in distribution (see


To date, LWOB has implemented research, trial advocacy training, trial observation and community outreach projects involving multiple teams of lawyers working together across political boundaries, time zones and geographic divides. Using all available Microsoft technology to the full extent possible, LWOB has grown from a small group of committed volunteers into a truly global network of pro-bono lawyers, all dedicated to advancing rule of law and protecting freedom and human rights around the world.


Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery