In February 2005, the National Committee brought seven Chinese legal aid professionals to the United States to spend five weeks examining the governance and administration of American professional legal service organizations.
The program began with a one-week orientation in New York and concluded with a three-day wrap-up session in San Francisco. Both were conducted by the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) at Columbia University and the National Committee.
In between, the Committee placed participants at legal aid centers, or related institutions, that matched the focus of their home organizations (e.g., women and children’s issues, the environment, labor issues, criminal defense, constitutionalism) for a three-and-a-half-week-internship.
In China, as in the United States, legal aid institutions are frequently founded by charismatic visionaries with extraordinary commitment and important ideas; often, however, they lack administrative skills. This project was designed to help rectify that situation and strengthen the institutional capacity of several Chinese legal aid centers.