Morrison & Foerster London partner Caroline Jury and associates Amber Pledge and James Colautti recently mentored Durham University law students participating in the Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) 6th Annual Rule of Law Innovation Challenge (ROLIC). LWOB invited students participating in the competition to create learning mechanisms for one of its program areas: Human Trafficking, Wildlife Crime, and Trial Advocacy. LWOB often implements the winning projects, enabling students to see the impact that their ideas can have on important issues. The Durham University students selected the Wildlife Crime program area and were asked to develop an interactive “talking book” designed to teach children of reading age about the adverse causes and effects of poaching and trafficking endangered animals in Africa.
Over the course of the month-long challenge, Amber and James coached the students through the book-drafting process, including reviewing and editing proposed storylines and scripts for the book that the students titled Akina and Elewisa’s Wildlife Adventures. The MoFo team also advised the students on developing a proposal to present to LWOB with recommendations on how to manufacture, produce, and print the book in both English and Swahili. The students’ hard work and MoFo’s ongoing support paid off, as the Durham University team placed second in the competition.
Instead of the usual live event in London to announce the results, LWOB hosted a virtual event that included a panel discussion. Amber and James were invited to join Patricia Sullivan, LWOB board member and Global Co-Head of Financial Crime compliance for Standard Chartered Bank; Tracy Alexander, Director of Forensic Services of the City of London Police and President of the British Academy of Forensic Scientists; and Jessica Ryckman, Deputy Director of LWOB on the panel, which was moderated by Ropes & Gray partner and LWOB board member, Amanda Raad.
Amber found the experience truly gratifying. “As a lawyer coming from the corporate and finance world, you don’t get too many opportunities to work on projects like this,” she said. “In addition to feeling like you are making a difference in the world, it is also very satisfying to feel like you are contributing to a cause that you are personally passionate about.”
James echoed Amber’s sentiments and expressed his pride in the students’ work ethic: “It was great to see how well the students worked together on this project. I was impressed by their commitment throughout the entire challenge and how well they worked collaboratively together to achieve a common goal.”
For the Durham University team, comprised of law students Karishma Puri, Claire Patterson, Emily Falzon, Kelys Malouda, Kristen Price, and Molly Kavanagh, the competition was a valuable learning experience: “We were all thrilled to be given the opportunity to participate in ROLIC and make a real-world impact through the work LWOB does. On top of that, working with Morrison & Foerster was incredibly insightful as they shed light on the importance of developing skills such as persuasion, articulation, and communication for the success of our project—all skills that are pivotal in our journeys as budding lawyers, too.”
The LWOB Rule of Law Innovation Challenge is an annual event designed to provide students with opportunities to contribute to and aid the development of innovative educational mechanisms in the rule of law. Visit LWOB’s website to learn more.
Pictured here are illustrations from the Durham University law students’ talking book: Akina and Elewisa’s Wildlife Adventures.