November 24, 2015, by ICCSR

MBA dissertation shows Middle East law firms need to raise pro bono game

A new dissertation by an ICCSR MBA student has concluded that pro bono activity by law firms in the Middle East is lagging behind other parts of the world – and that governments in the region should act to change the situation.

The dissertation, by executive MBA student Cecile Bleskine, found evidence that the provision of pro bono work is less common in the Middle East than in other regions, despite the presence there of international law firms that are otherwise noted for such activity.

It says this may partly be due to the fact that law firms in the Middle East generally view pro bono work in terms of supporting charitable or community projects rather than offering free professional services to those who might otherwise be unable to access legal help.

The dissertation argues that much of the onus on encouraging more pro bono work should fall on governments in the region, which can act as catalysts for change. It cites the example set by authorities in Dubai, where the government’s legal affairs department is planning to establish a pro bono clinic to help law firms increase their activity in this area.

However, the paper concludes that law firms can also do much to change the situation themselves, including by developing strong partnerships with policy makers, universities, law schools and corporate clients who can advise them on how to strengthen access to justice in the Middle East.

Cecile’s work will help to flesh out the academic information available in this area, as while there is ample literature on the pro bono work of legal firms in other parts of the world – notably the US and the UK – there is a gap when it comes to material on the subject in the Middle East.


Photo: Tori Rector via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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