Timap for Justice is Seeking Law Students for Summer 2010 Internships in Sierra Leone

Timap for Justice is seeking law students who are energetic, creative, interested in grassroots social justice work, and willing to live simply while learning about and adapting to a West African culture. Interns will be based in a rural paralegal office in Sierra Leone and will work side-by-side with Timap for Justice paralegals to serve individual clients and address community-level problems. Interns will also be asked to train paralegals in certain areas of formal law. The program is the first of its kind in the country and continues to experiment with its methodology. Interns will therefore help evaluate Timap’s methods and think about how to improve their effectiveness. 

Applications should include: 

  • Cover letter describing your interest in Timap’s work and any experiences that would help prepare you for independent living in rural Sierra Leone.
  • Resume.
  • Send application materials and any inquiries to timapusa@timapforjustice.org.  Please submit all materials by January 31, 2010. 

Timap for Justice 

Timap for Justice is a pioneering effort to provide basic justice services in Sierra Leone. Because of a shortage of lawyers in the country and because of Sierra Leone’s dualist legal structure – most people are primarily governed by customary rather than formal legal institutions – Timap for Justice’s frontline is made up of community-based paralegals rather than lawyers. Timap is directed by two lawyers who train the paralegals in formal law and the workings of government and supervise the paralegals in their work. 

Working in the rural provinces and the capital Freetown, paralegals address a wide range of justice issues, including family disputes, violence, corruption, police abuse, wrongful detention, education, land and employment. For individual clients, the paralegals mediate conflicts, provide information on rights and procedures, and assist clients in dealing with government and chiefdom authorities. At the community level, paralegals engage in popular education, organize communities for collective action, and advocate for change with chiefs, government officials, and business and NGO leaders. In a small number of cases, selected either for their severity or for the possibility of legal impact, the coordinating lawyers provide direct legal representation in the courts.  

Timap strives to solve clients’ justice problems – thereby demonstrating that justice is possible   and to cultivate the agency of the communities among which they work. They adopt a synthetic orientation towards Sierra Leone’s dualist legal structure, engaging and seeking to improve both formal and customary institutions. Timap has been recognized by independent institutions including the World Bank and the International Crisis Group for developing a creative, effective methodology for providing justice services in the difficult and complex context of rural Sierra Leone.