Learning Exchange: Paralegal Program Development in the Philippines

“It is an important idea that paralegals are not solving problems for the people, but solving problems together with the community and helping empower people to solve problems themselves.”
Mr. Han Shin Win
Jungle Lawyer, Myanmar


“The motivation of paralegals is really good, they are all providing services voluntarily with some of them serving for many, many years, giving some hours everyday for a long time. Philippines is a really good example for paralegals.”
Zannatul Ferdous
BNWLA, Bangladesh


“I feel happy because I get experience more than my expectation before. I met a lot of urban poor paralegals, I made interviews with them, explore how exactly they work, and ask them what they teach to communities. I read and research comparison between housing law in Indonesia and Philippines. I believe the research helped me so much to improve advocacy in housing rights in Jakarta and Indonesia  
Rachmawatri Putri
Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, Indonesia

This learning exchange took place over four weeks in May 2015 and was hosted by the Alternative Law Groups based in Manila, Philippines. The participants who attended included two participants from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), one participant from the Bangladesh National Woman Lawyer’s Association (BNWLA), two participants from Kantor Bantuan Hukum (KBH) in Indonesia, and one participant who independently serves as a jungle lawyer working on land disputes in the delta region of Myanmar.

The participants all met during an orientation in Manila before setting off on their individual host assignments across the Philippines. The extended study visits were conducted with ALG member organizations, including Kaisahan, who works with legal advocacy and agrarian reform; Saligan, the largest legal aid and advocacy organization in the Philippines; BALAOD Mindinaw, who works with rural farmers, indigenous groups and women; and the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, who works on environmental justice and conversation issues. The group reunited in Manila at the end of these visits to share their experiences and collaboratively develop work plans together with the ALG hosts. Some example lessons that participants took home include methods of sustaining long-term advocacy campaigns, knowledge of how to evaluate paralegal programs, and innovative ways of improving sustainability of local paralegal offices.

For more information about our learning exchanges, please contact exchanges@namati.org, or visit the learning exchange page here.