ILAM is working to build an independent, inclusive and sustainable national lawyers’ association that can protect the rights of clients and enhance the rule of law in Myanmar.
Since its inception in 2014, the Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar (ILAM) has nearly doubled its membership as it works to develop an inclusive, independent, and sustainable national bar association. Recent ILAM membership events and continuing education programs have focused on the importance of an independent bar that not only supports the rights of clients, but also serves as a check on democratic institutions. ILAM was officially registered in November 2016. Under the USAID-funded Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), Tetra Tech provided grant funding that allowed the ILM to expand, opening offices and libraries around the country and building relations with other justice sector actors.
ILAM recently conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their newest law library in Yangon attended by approximately 80 participants and 10 media outlets. The PRLP Chief of Party, Teresa Cannady, provided opening remarks about the role of a bar association and the importance of providing legal information to the public. The library will allow lawyers to better serve their clients and improve citizens’ access to justice. In addition to the PRLP grant, ILAM members donated books and CD-ROMs with legal materials to the library. With PRLP support, ILAM has opened two other libraries in Monywa and Pathein which serve as important resource hubs for lawyers and communities.
ILAM recently conducted another membership event for approximately 200 lawyers. At the event in Taunggyi, Shan State, the new ILAM Executive Director outlined the role of the secretariat and its plans for the coming year; other presenters emphasized the importance of building the independence of the legal profession in Myanmar. Using the PRLP Legal Aid Toolkit, ILAM also completed several professional development workshops to build trial skills of lawyers and help them better advocate for the rights of their clients. The ILAM Chairman participated in a U.S. study tour, led by PRLP, in late February where he learned more about the role of independent bar associations.
Beyond the life of this grant, PRLP will continue to work with ILAM as they seek to improve the rule of law in Myanmar by providing a higher level of service to clients and members. ILAM recognizes the need for an independent bar association as part of an effective justice sector and for the protection of human rights, and is working to make that a reality.