Who we are
The Global Alliance for Legal Aid is an association of jurists who advocate for the public interest and provide legal aid to the poor in developing countries.
GALA founder Jami Solli, an American human rights lawyer recognized that most legal aid projects are finite in nature because they are funded soley by charitable donations. Thus, when the funds run out; legal aid to the poor ceases, though the demand remains constant.
Further, the above picture reflects that legal services are bought in the market, but the poor in many places do not have sufficient funds to buy food. Therefore, paying a lawyer or court fees is impossible. Additionally, gathering documentation or evidence to bring a legal action can prove very challenging for the poor.
As a result, justice is inaccessible to most of the world’s poor in the absence of legal aid and pro bono services.
Pro bono and legal aid services are in short supply in many countries because lawyers often must work two jobs; one in a commercial law practice to fund their ‘hobby’ which is the legal aid and pro bono representation of the poor. For example, one GALA member in Africa funds a battered women and children’s shelter and provides legal aid through the proceeds of her commercial law practice.
GALA itself is funded through the consulting work of its founder.
This is not a sustainable, nor a comprehensive means of filling the access to justice gap in the world.
Thus, GALA is actively experimenting with the sale of co-branded products, like its Ugandan Fair trade coffee https://store.thanksgivingcoffee.com/gala-coffee-online-store-c111.aspx to fund its legal aid work.
We also believe that governments must prioritize legal aid and access to justice as an essential component of democracy.
A democracy where only the rich can afford lawyers and access to the courts is a failure.
GALA is able to function because it has the pro bono support of large law firms and organizations like Advocates for International Development of the UK (A4ID.org). These organizations have a depth of knowledge that can be tapped to share strategic advice with GALA partners.
GALA is also a mechanism to link lawyers, law firms, law faculties and bar associations who who want to advocate for environmental justice; human rights and consumer protection globally.
GALA seeks to connect lawyers with similar interests, and practice areas who want to promote the rule of law everywhere.
How Gala Works
GALA‘s goal is to assist legal aid lawyers to help the poor to reclaim their rights, and to promote public interest advocacy and litigation.
GALA works with local partners who are attorneys admitted to practice in the developing country at issue.
GALA provides support in the form of funding for the investigation of a claim, lawyers’ costs and court related fees.
GALA also links local lawyers with pro bono support from large multinational law firms willing to commit time to advise on litigation strategy and/or on an area of their expertise (eg financial services; environmental law; competition law).
If you are an advocate and have an issue of public interest in your country with which you would like support; please do not hesitate to connect.
GALA is an association of jurists who provide legal aid and advocate for the public interest in developing countries.
According to the UNDP’s report Making the Law Work for Everyone, some 4 billion people globally do not have access the judicial system or to legal services due to poverty.
Effectively, the poor do not have rights.
GALA is a network which supports lawyers and advocacy organizations that advocate for human rights, consumer rights (primarily access to essential services, safe food and medicines) and environmental protection issues can apply to join GALA as a GALA Partner. The initial GALA partners are all advocates who have worked with GALA’s founder, Jami Solli on international development and consumer rights projects over the last 5-10 years.
GALA partners are primarily in developing countries, and are profiled with their contact information and qualifications and practice areas.
GALA partners submit cases for review and assistance. Cases reflect an access to justice problem; whereby a client or community has experienced harm and there is no appropriate government regulatory response or redress. Cases are selected by the GALA partners because of the importance to the client, the community and rule of law.
Only GALA partners and their clients know what legal issues are important to the communities they represent.
GALA promotes its partners’ cases to other persons interested in social justice and it accepts donations for cases through its online donation app.
GALA will publish an accounting and use of all funds and is committed to transparency. It may occur that more funds are received than required for a particular case. Should this occur, the donor(s) will be contacted and be given the option of receiving a refund or authorizing the reallocation of funds to another GALA case.
GALA will also facilitate the linkage between the legal professionals, coordinating an introduction and exchange of information on cases and strategy.
GALA is a non profit entity registered in North Carolina. It is applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the US IRS.