New Perimeter

Our Global Pro Bono Initiative
Jayne Anderson Risk

Jayne Anderson Risk

Partner, Philadelphia

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1. What inspired you during the project?

The students. Their universal hope and sense of purpose was at the same time awe-inspiring and humbling. On the first day, rather than launch right in to the rigors of the legal writing program we were to teach, my teaching partner, a corporate in-house lawyer from Germany, and I asked the students, “Why?” - why they were there, why they chose to study law, why they attended this program during a semester break.   

The refrains we heard echoed universal themes: “to be in a position to fight for equal justice under the law", “to lead this country forward as a country of law, not men”, “to fight injustice and corruption”, “to fight for equal rights for women”, “to lead the economic development of Zambia onto the world stage”, “to effect environmental laws so that clean water is available to all.” The words were not meant to be lofty; they were grounded and genuine. These students, although hailing from very diverse cultures and areas of Zambia, were driven toward a common goal – the advancement of their country and its people. We heard stories of travelling great distances from small remote villages and staying in small, single dorm rooms, sleeping on the floor amongst strangers.

That set the tone both in our classroom and throughout the week in our exchanges with the students. They were open about the challenges they saw moving forward, both as individuals, members of a distinct community and as a country. They were keenly interested in the different challenges that our countries and societies faced, and how we dealt with them as individuals and as lawyers. 

On the final day of graduation, several successful and influential alumnae of the law school spoke about the importance of the education they had received at the school, including how programs like this one had inspired them. When it came time for us to address the crowd, we told them that indeed it was they who had inspired us.

2. What was the most fulfilling aspect of the work?

Interacting with the future of Zambia. It was an honor to partner with lawyers from around the world and have the opportunity to interact with the students who are the future leadership of the government, the legislature and the judiciary. We taught and we listened. The differences among the cultures became smaller as the week went on, and the common ties more profound. In the end, it was the respect for the law and the rule of law as the way forward, regardless of one’s country, that was the common denominator. 

There were fulfilling experiences every day. One particular afternoon, one of our colleagues treated three of us to a visit to the High Court in Lusaka. Four lawyers sat quietly in the back of a courtroom and watched as an indigent man, accused of stealing a cow, addressed the court without counsel and cross-examined his accuser, a gentleman farmer with three lawyers representing him. It was one day in court that not one of us will soon forget.

3. What one word describes your New Perimeter trip?

Hope. The students taught us – through their actions and words – there is great hope for the future when its foundation is the respect for the rule of law.

It was an honor to partner with lawyers from around the world and have the opportunity to interact with the students who are the future leadership of the government, the legislature and the judiciary.”

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