Our Model

We’re equipping the accused. Informing the indicted. Educating the incarcerated. And taking the law to the margins of society to uproot the unjust. 

Paralegals working in Justice Defenders legal office in Thika Women Prison, Kenya.
Who We Are
of the

de·​fend·​er, noun

1 A person who protects someone or something, esp. when attacked or criticised. 2 To maintain by argument, evidence, law. 3 Uphold. 4 To serve as attorney for (a defendant).

de·fence·less, adjective

1 Those incarcerated without legal representation. 2 Groups at disproportionate risk of conflict with criminal law by the nature of their status, race, or profession.

We're a charitable movement, working towards a posture of radical inclusion to ensure the defenceless become the defenders. Our model intentionally includes those who would consider themselves – or may be considered by others – to be marginalised or in conflict with the law. Some defenders were previously attackers. This means training individuals in unlikely places. Justice defenders live in prisons and palaces; they come from death row and Davos. And if these defenders can be unleashed within the justice system, they can serve the community and strengthen the system, helping ensure a fair hearing for all.

What We Do

Training paralegals and lawyers within defenceless communities to provide legal services for themselves and others.

Those who need justice most are least likely to gain access to it. And those with lived experience within the justice system are least likely to be heard. 

We need justice defenders to bridge the justice gap. People who can see the defenceless, identify with their conflict, and ensure the equal application of the law. And real change can happen when defenders come from within our communities.

Why do we train prisoners and prison officers rather than simply working to give more people access to lawyers? Because of Saint Oscar Romero’s words:

“There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”

By equipping justice defenders to facilitate a just legal process – through legal education, training, and practice – we help ensure a fair hearing at the point of greatest need. As everyone deserves the right to tell their story. 

Inherent potential, gifts, and talents were once locked up. But with funding support from donors, the chains have been removed. 

Read our manifesto: how we're responding to the grassroots need for justice in the US and beyond.

Paralegal Musa Bah at Janjangbureh Prison, The Gambia.


Partnering with world-class academic institutions, such as the University of London, to tutor and facilitate law degrees for prison communities.

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Equipping prisoners and prison staff to become auxiliary paralegals. And offering prison officials secondment opportunities in the UK.

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Establishing law practices within prisons, providing free services, and running legal awareness offices for those without access to justice.

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