August 19, 2020
August 19 marks world humanitarian day, where we are encouraged to pay tribute to aid workers and rally support for people living through crises around the world.
We want to shine a light on five inspirational legal professionals who are doing incredible work to help others around the world. Without further ado…
Amal Alamuddin Clooney is a human rights lawyer who moved from Lebanon to England during the Lebanese Civil War. After qualifying and working as a barrister in London, Mrs Clooney was appointed by the UN as an advisor to Kofi Annan, the co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
She is a strong advocator for women’s health and human rights. Amal Clooney has worked on several notable cases such as representing Armenia in order to gain recognition of the Armenian Genocide and representing an Iraqi student forced into sex slavery by ISIS.
Amal Clooney also co-founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) which advocates for justice through accountability for human rights abuses around the world. The foundation has a host of supporters and partners such as Microsoft, the UN, Unicef and Google.
Kyaw Hla Aung is a lawyer and civil rights activist who has resisted violent discrimination against his Rohingya people in Myanmar. As a consequence of his work to protest the seizures of farmland, he has received multiple prison sentences totalling 12 years.
He has dedicated his life to making sure that Muslim children have access to education and healthcare. In 2018, the 78 year old was awarded the Aurora Prize for humanitarianism. He donated the $1 million prize money to humanitarian organisations who provide medical aid and assistance to Rohungya refugees who have been affected by the recent ethnic cleansing.
Olivia Giles is an Edinburgh lawyer who lost her hands and feet after contracting meningitis and suffering from toxic shock and gangrene. As a consequence of her life-saving operation, she has set up a charity called 500 Miles that provides people in developing countries with prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation so that they can walk again. The charity has helped people in Malawi, Zambia and Zanzibar.
In 2015, she was presented with the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award that recognises those who have saved or improved people’s lives.
Christina M Storm is the founder of Lawyers Without Borders, a non-for-profit that matches lawyers and judges dedicated to pro bono work and with the underserved. In doing so the organisation helps protect the disadvantaged and promote human rights.
“I was 45 years old and had spent 20+ years as a trial lawyer with experience in family law, civil litigation, corporate defence of employment discrimination and criminal defence of minor crimes.
One day, after spending literally months scouring the internet for pro bono opportunities, I began to realise that nothing close to what I’d envisioned existed for members of the legal profession. It was disappointing. It occurred to me others had to be experiencing the same frustration.”
Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based human rights organisation that aims to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the US. In doing so, they challenge racial and economic injustice and protect the basic human rights of the most vulnerable US citizens.
Through his organisation Bryan Stevenson has focussed on legal challenges aimed at the prison system, including unfair sentencing, innocent death row prisoners and children being prosecuted as adults.
Outside of this organisation, Stevenson has led the opening of the National Memorial of Peace and Justice which is the first US memorial dedicated to the lynching of African Americans. He has also led to the opening of the Legacy Museum which examines the history of slavery, racial segregation, and connection to mass incarceration today.