In March 2017, a truly international team of lawyers from DLA Piper offices around the world spent six days in Kathmandu to deliver a training program for female lawyers in Nepal. This was the second time back to Nepal for DLA Piper and New Perimeter, and the program was a fantastic success. Developing and expanding on the training that had been delivered in 2015 to 30 lawyers in ethics and professional responsibility and corporate and commercial law, this year’s training was delivered to 60 women and saw the addition of a module on arbitration, intellectual property and constitutional law.
In Nepal, women, who make up a very small percentage of practising lawyers, face a number of obstacles to their professional legal careers. Interestingly, many of the obstacles faced by the women in Nepal are challenges that are shared by female lawyers around the world. The training provided a fantastic forum to discuss the challenges unique to women in the legal profession and provide examples of how the challenges can be overcome.
This training was especially valuable in Nepal, where there is no continuing legal education requirement and lawyers are often practising on their own from very early on in their careers. For many, the training was the first opportunity to be exposed to new and different areas of law as well as an opportunity to build and develop practical skills. There were discussions about professional responsibility and legal ethics, and some interesting perspectives on what to do when faced with certain ethical dilemmas.
The program was the result of a wonderful collaboration between DLA Piper and New Perimeter, Women Lawyers Joining Hands (WLJH), the Nepal Bar Association (NBA), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Canadian law firm Symes, Smith & Millard. In all the sessions international trainers were assisted by experienced local trainers who were excellent in providing a Nepalese perspective and drawing links to relevant Nepalese case law and legislation. In addition to the local trainers, there were some inspiring guest speakers, including Mohna Ansari who was the first female Muslim lawyer in Nepal and is currently the only woman in the five-member commission of the Nepal Human Rights Commission. Her position is the highest held by a Muslim woman in Nepal’s modern history and she was a wonderful inspiration and role model for all the lawyers, local and international.
The training rooms, lunch and tea rooms were buzzing with energy, ideas and collegiality from dusk till dawn. I thank all the Nepalese female lawyers for being so passionate and dedicated and for sharing all their stories. On the last day of the training, we were thrilled to learn the women decided to form the Women Lawyers Club of Nepal. It was wonderful to see how the women used the training as an opportunity to network with each other and were committed to supporting each other and working together in the future. I am informed that the association is currently in the process of being registered and a website will be launched very soon. We look forward to playing an ongoing role in the development of these Nepalese female lawyers and can’t wait to see all the amazing things they achieve for themselves and their country.
Nepali women lawyers working on an assignment during a breakout session