The Global Alliance for Legal Aid is an association of jurists who provide legal aid and advocate for the public interest in developing countries.
GALA founders recognized that there was a fundamental flaw preventing legal aid to be continuously available to those most in need:
Most legal aid projects are finite in nature and funded by charitable foundations; as well as development organizations. Thus, when the funds run out; legal aid to the poor ceases, though demand remains.
In fact, it is common for lawyers in developing countries to work in a commercial law practice as a ‘day job’ to fund their legal aid and pro bono representation of the poor. In fact, one GALA member in Africa funds a battered women’s shelter and provides legal aid through the proceeds of her commercial law practice. Though laudable, in the long run, GALA does not believe lawyers should be asked to be WonderWoman. Do we ask medical doctors to always provide their services for free?
Governments also must prioritize access to justice is an integral ingredient of democracy. A democracy whereby only the rich can afford lawyers and court time is doomed.
Resources for legal aid are scarce everywhere, but more scarce in developing countries where funds are normally channeled through government entities, or through large international organizations (which have high overhead costs leaving small amounts for the in country advocates).
GALA uses the connective power of the internet to support legal aid, linking those who can be a potential solution to the funding gap, like large law firms and bar associations. These organizations are also spilling over with knowledge from years of practice, and can thus also share strategic advice with GALA partners.
GALA is a mechanism to link lawyers, law firms, university law faculty and bar associations in developed economies who advocate for environmental justice; human rights and consumer protection.
GALA’s partners each have their own legal specialties and practice areas.
GALA seeks to connect lawyers with similar interests, and practice areas who want to promote the rule of law everywhere.
GALA: where no advocate is an island.