Myanmar Legal Empowerment Network

Myanmar Legal Empowerment Network (MLEN) is a network of organizations and individuals in Myanmar promoting legal empowerment and access to justice. MLEN works on various thematic issues for access to justice in Myanmar. MLEN conducts public legal education, advocacy, capacity-building and incubation of Paralegals and collaboration with partners to promote the rule of law and inclusive legal system in Myanmar.

For the third component of Braveheart, we are proud to announce the convening of the Myanmar Legal Empowerment Network since March 1, 2023, dedicated to promoting paralegals across Myanmar. In Myanmar, the paralegal model is still a novel concept, with local communities and the government not yet fully acquainted with its potential. Paralegals, often known as non-lawyers performing legal work, come in various forms such as community-based, center-based, mobile, or social advocates. Some are full-time employees of non-governmental and civil society organizations, trained extensively in community engagement, case data collection and management, and other soft skills. Others serve as volunteers, with limited legal training but a strong desire to contribute without direct supervision.

As the Myanmar Legal Empowerment Network, our mission is clear: to promote access to justice in Myanmar through legal empowerment. We strive to empower all citizens to become active participants in the democratic process, fostering a culture of accountability and engagement. We are committed to enhancing public legal awareness by educating individuals about their rights and responsibilities. Moreover, we are dedicated to incubating competent paralegals and establishing an enabling platform for legal service providers to connect, learn, and take action.

Enhancing Public Legal Awareness

Through the Myanmar Legal Empowerment Network Page, we are committed to addressing various social justice issues and providing valuable legal counseling and referral services to those in need. We understand the importance of education and engagement in the pursuit of justice. By presenting topics on a wide range of social justice issues, we aim to inform and empower our community. Our dedication to providing legal counseling and referral services ensures that individuals have access to the support they require to navigate legal challenges effectively.

Moreover, our contests focusing on legal knowledge are an excellent way to engage our audience and promote learning within the community. Recognizing and awarding winners not only encourages participation but also celebrates the importance of legal literacy. It’s inspiring to see the impact we’ve made so far. With a reach of 50,000 people and over 12,000 visits to our page only in in 2023, it’s evident that our efforts are making a difference in raising awareness and providing essential services.

Incubating Competent Paralegals

We are dedicated to incubating competent paralegals through a variety of initiatives designed to enhance their skills and capabilities. Our in-house trainings are intensive and comprehensive, equipping participants with the fundamental knowledge and expertise required to excel as paralegals. These trainings cover a wide range of topics essential for effective legal advocacy and support. Additionally, we organize monthly sessions with Legal Experts where our members have the opportunity to engage in peer discussions, share insights, and learn from experienced professionals in the field. These interactions foster a collaborative learning environment and contribute to the ongoing development of our members’ skills and knowledge.

Furthermore, as part of our commitment to supporting our members, we actively share funding opportunities within our network. Our team at M-LEN provides guidance and assistance to members in developing proposals, maximizing their chances of securing vital resources for their initiatives.

Establishing an enabling platform

We are thrilled to share that our network has expanded to include 113 members, spanning across all 14 regions of Myanmar. This milestone underscores the strength and diversity of our community of paralegals, who play a crucial role in advancing our mission of promoting access to justice and empowering individuals throughout the nation. At M-LEN, we serve as a platform for legal service providers across Myanmar to unite their voices and actions. Through collaborative efforts and shared goals, we strive to amplify our impact and address pressing legal challenges facing our society. 

Moreover, M-LEN actively engages with national and international organizations, serving as a vital bridge for Myanmar’s legal service providers to connect with global movements and initiatives. By fostering partnerships and facilitating dialogue, we work towards advancing legal empowerment and advocating for positive change on both local and international scales. Together, as a united community, we are committed to promoting justice, equality, and the rule of law in Myanmar and beyond.

Braveheart operates a comprehensive array of activities utilizing the paralegal model to drive impactful change across various fronts. The initiative convenes the Myanmar Legal Empowerment Network (M-LEN), focusing on promoting paralegals throughout Myanmar. This model, while still nascent in the country, holds promise in empowering local communities and enhancing access to justice. Under Braveheart’s auspices, M-LEN conducts in-house trainings and monthly sessions with legal experts to equip paralegals with essential skills and knowledge. These initiatives are intensive and aim to fill the capacity gap, ensuring that paralegals are well-prepared to address legal challenges effectively.

Furthermore, M-LEN serves as a platform for legal service providers to unify their efforts and amplify their voices. By connecting with national and international organizations, M-LEN acts as a bridge for Myanmar’s legal service providers to engage in global movements and initiatives, thereby fostering greater collaboration and advocacy. Braveheart’s approach underscores the importance of collective action in promoting access to justice and empowering individuals throughout the country. Through ongoing efforts and partnerships, Braveheart continues to drive positive change and advance the cause of legal empowerment in Myanmar and beyond.

Paralegal Model

 

In Myanmar, paralegal model is a very new phenomenon and local communities and government are not still familiar with them currently. Normally, paralegals are known as non-lawyers doing legal work; however, the others are also called community-based paralegals, center-based paralegals, and mobile paralegals or social advocates. Some of them are full time employee associated with non-government organization, and civil society organizations, which trained them the community engagement, case data collection and management, and other soft skills; on the other hand, others are working as volunteers who only gained less legal trainings without direct supervision. Generally, they have common characteristics which are: they give awareness to the communities, use the laws, and help others to identify and claim their legal rights. Legal empowerment is the primary focus of the community-based paralegals because both individuals and communities can become legally empowered. We use “Paralegal Model” in legal empowering to local community in our project and activities especially in Citizenship Rights. Paralegals are different from conventional paralegals —their primary role is not to assist lawyers, but rather to work directly with the communities they serve.

They are from and stay within the community, and they help clients to know law, use law and shape law. Paralegals work to ensure that community understands and have the ability to apply knowledge of the law. They themselves follow the law and try to push local officials to do the same. Community-based paralegals turn the wheel of legal empowerment conducting the following 5 main activities;

  1. Legal awareness raising and growing the movement of community
  2. Consultation and handling cases
  3. Data collection and gathering evidence for cases and systemic changes
  4. Networking and Coordination with other stakeholders
  5. Continuously learning and self-improvement

Paralegals of BRAVEHEART, who are non-legal professionals, but trained on specific laws and regulations related to their duties, are chosen from the communities and therefore they have extensive knowledge of local people and ways to engage them effectively.