Volunteer travel, or “voluntourism,” is on the rise with those looking for an experience abroad that goes beyond mai tais on the beach (not that I’m knocking mai tais or the beach!). While we frequently hear about doctors volunteering at clinics or student groups rebuilding homes or WWOOFing for a summer, we rarely hear about lawyers volunteering their legal expertise aboard.
Opportunities for lawyers to volunteer abroad do exist — many, in fact. Lawyers without Borders currently has opportunities in Uganda, Berlin, and Copenhagen, and has previously worked in Ghana, Liberia, and Kenya. The ABA maintains an extensive list of international pro bono opportunities, as well.
Law students interested in gaining experience — life and legal — through volunteering and studying abroad have a wide variety of choices. Your law school should help you find opportunities and transfer credits.
Of course, you don’t have to limit your voluntourism to a legal cause. You can take a break from the law — and involve your non-lawyer family — in a Habitat for Humanity or WWOOFing trip. Some opportunities are listed here, but the options are endless.
If doing pro bono work abroad interests you, you might enjoy Where the Hell is Tuvalu?, by Philip Ells. Ells shares his experience as a British solicitor who leaves his job and life in the UK to be the People’s Attorney of Tuvalu, a small island nation in the South Pacific.
Have you done pro bono work abroad? Planning (or dreaming of) a volunteer trip? Tell us about it in the comments!