Vivek Maru

Chief Executive Officer, Washington, DC

Follow Vivek on Twitter here.

Vivek founded Namati in 2011 to grow the movement for legal empowerment around the world. Namati and its partners have built cadres of community legal workers – sometimes known as “barefoot lawyers”– in ten countries. The advocates have worked with over 65,000 people to protect community lands, enforce environmental law, and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship.

Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, more than 1,000 groups from every region in the world who are learning from one another and collaborating on common challenges. This community successfully advocated for the inclusion of access to justice in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

From 2003 to 2007, Vivek co-founded and co-directed the Sierra Leonean organization Timap for Justice, which has been recognized by the International Crisis Group, Transparency International, and President Jimmy Carter as a pioneering model for delivering justice services in the context of a weak state and a plural legal system.

From 2008 to 2011, he served as senior counsel in the Justice Reform Group of the World Bank. His work focused on rule of law reform and governance, primarily in West Africa and South Asia.

In 1997-1998 he lived in a hut of dung and sticks in a village in Kutch, his native place, working on watershed management and girls’ education with two grassroots development organizations – Sahjeevan and Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghathan.

Vivek graduated from Harvard College, magna cum laude, and Yale Law School. He writes regularly in academic journals and in the press—see links to his publications below. He also directs the Legal Empowerment Leadership Course at Central European University and New York University School of Law.

Vivek received the Pioneer Award from the North American South Asian Bar Association in 2008. He was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2014 and a “legal rebel” by the American Bar Association in 2015. He, Namati, and the Global Legal Empowerment Network received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2016. In 2017, the Schwab Foundation named Vivek and Sonkita Conteh, director of Namati – Sierra Leone, two of its Social Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Vivek serves on the board of trustees of the global advocacy organization Avaaz, the international advisory council of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the advisory board of the evaluation firm ID Insight, and the boards of the Constitutional Accountability Center and the International Senior Lawyers Project. He was an affiliate expert with the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Vivek studies capoeira angola with Dale Marcelin at Universal Capoeira Angola Center.











Op-Eds and Public Writing

Journal Articles

Books/Book Chapters/Policy Documents/Practitioner Guides