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Law without Lawyers: Assessing a Community-based Mobile Paralegal Program in Liberia

By: Bilal Siddiqi, International Development Law Organization

This is an evaluation of a ‘community legal advisor’ (CLA) program that aims to increase access to justice by “establishing credible transitional tools to help people identify appropriate dispute resolution venues.” The CLA model stems from a successful and on-going pilot program conducted in the five southeastern counties of Liberia since October 2007. The Community Legal Advisors (CLAs) are individuals from local communities who have been given training in mediation, advocacy, domestic laws, and the roles of the different legal agencies. They are available at no cost to provide referrals, advice and advocacy, or to help disputants negotiate local problems. They provide an immediate alternative in the transitional period to other local justice mechanisms that may not be accessible or trusted by all. The program is supported by the Liberian Minister of Justice and other stakeholders in the justice sector.

The evaluation design follows a baseline and follow-up survey structure, combining difference-in-difference analysis with village-level and individual-level randomization of the Carter Center’s mobile paralegal program. The innovative features of the design lie in (i) the survey instrument, which solicits information from households on a large sample (more than 4,000 instances) of ‘latent’ legal disputes, which may or may not eventually appear as cases in the customary or formal legal systems, and (ii) the unique opportunity to exogenously and randomly reduce barriers to accessing formal justice, by means of the mobile program in which paralegals travel by motorbike to a large number of remote villages.

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Uploaded on: Feb 07, 2013
Last Updated: Dec 04, 2015
Year Published: 2012
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