I am thrilled to share a new book with you: Community Paralegals and the Pursuit of Justice.

Community paralegals demystify law and empower people to advocate for themselves. They are at the heart of our movement for justice. But they have been largely ignored by scholars and writers.

This book starts to fill that void. It’s been a long time coming — it’s the product of 8 years of research and writing by 14 authors across 6 countries.

Each chapter is rich with vivid accounts of paralegals helping communities to take on injustice, from domestic violence to unlawful mining to denial of wages. From these stories emerges evidence of what works and how.

The book explores questions like:

  • How have community paralegals adapted to and influenced their changing political contexts, from repressive regimes like apartheid South Africa to newfound democracies and, in some cases, back towards repression?
  • Is it possible for paralegals to receive public funding without sacrificing their independence?
  • What are five qualities of the most effective paralegals, and how can organizations nurture those qualities?

This book is for all of us. I hope it will make us better at what we do, and bring attention to our cause.

You can download a PDF copy of the book for free from the Cambridge University Press website.

We’d love to hear what you think. Do the lessons the book draws about paralegals and legal empowerment ring true to you? How do the experiences described compare with your own? Share your thoughts with our community here.

In solidarity,

Vivek Maru
CEO, Namati

What people are saying about Community Paralegals and the Pursuit of Justice…

“A must-read… If ‘access to justice’ is an abstraction to you, it won’t be once you read the stories in these pages of paralegals and clients seeking justice. Those stories are unforgettable. They hold lessons for all of us.”

-Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, current chair of The Elders

“Thoroughly original…Anyone interested in the future of law and justice will have to reckon with this book.”

-Pratap Mehta, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University

“Frontline legal advocates can help people turn law into the guarantor of equality it is supposed to be. This book shows us how.”

-Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative

“[A] powerful … guide to understanding one of the most promising emerging fields in the world today… Each individual story is inspiring, and the global potential of this profession to change countless lives is thrilling.”

-Ricken Patel, Founder and CEO, Avaaz – The World in Action.

Notable Replies

  1. Faith says:

    Dear Viveck, Thank you very much for sharing this and the good work Namati is doing in Access to Justice space.

    Kind regards,


  2. Thanks for sharing. This is great work and very inspirational cases that involves paralegals, I cant wait to read it and share with paralegal organizations in Zanzibar, Tanzania

  3. Thank you for flagging @lorenzowakefield. And great to see you last week. @mckinleycharles or @vivektrivedi do you know what the deal is re. hard copies?

    @APAVLOV community paralegals tend to be different from the traditional paralegals. (see p. 2-3 in the book). Ontario does have a remarkable experience with both though- check out work by @michelemleering.


  4. Thank you. I clicked the message button but it did not work. How do the community paralegals work in Ontario? They are different from the official paralegals. I will research the topic because it is so inspiring. Thanks.

  5. Hello @michelemleering, I am interested to know more about the community paralegals in Ontario. I was referred to you by Mr. Tobias Eigen. Thank you very much! Truly yours, Alexandar

  6. Thanks Alexander.

    Michael Otto will have access to a whole chapter that I helped write with others at Namati on Ontario’s paralegals. I wonder when it is being published. This would help you a lot. I will email Michael about it.

    All best wishes,


  7. Thank you @michelemleering, and hello Alexandar @APAVLOV. We have been developing a series of national research briefs on recognition and financing of paralegals and are just now publishing the first 8-10 of these in our resource library. The series of briefs will be part of a broader resource guide on formal recognition and financing of community paralegals that will include supplemental resources and materials for each country and will be up on our site next month - so stay tuned for that.

    For now, the paralegal research brief for Ontario, Canada can be found here:

  8. This is very interesting material. So community paralegals are legal workers. This makes sense.



  9. I deal on all of the above, @APAVLOV someone may be denied access to justice if deals with one of it as no one to handle the other. However, I would make referral and follow up to the end to ensure justice is done.

    Thank you.


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