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20 October 20223 minute read

Initiative launched to support displaced legal professionals

The Displaced Legal Talent Initiative (DLTI) was launched at the PILnet Global Forum in Dublin this week by the charity Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB ) working with DLA Piper and Dechert to support law firms to hire displaced legal professionals.

Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) is a global organisation that matches skilled refugees with employers. In the UK, TBB is working with the UK government on the Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot, which reduces the administrative burden in hiring displaced talent and the visa processing time.

There are thousands of displaced legal professionals who are living a precarious existence while waiting for resettlement. This group includes hundreds of Afghan judges and lawyers. Under Taliban rule women are unable to work in professional roles and people who advocated for human rights or worked within the legal system are in danger and seeking safe routes to leave Afghanistan. Except in a limited range of circumstances, it is very difficult for skilled refugees to obtain visas to come to the UK. In 2021, only 1,587 people were granted protection through resettlement schemes in the UK. Thousands of highly skilled refugees need a legal route to come to the UK for resettlement. Unlike claiming asylum, skilled worker visas offer displaced lawyers the opportunity to work for a sponsoring employer on arrival and to support their families.

‘’As TBB continues our mission to create more job opportunities for displaced people, we are proud to present this initiative alongside our partners DLA Piper and Dechert, which aims to change the lives of skilled lawyers and contribute to the richness and diversity of the legal environment in the UK,’’ said Marina Brizar, TBB UK & Europe Director

This collaboration between TBB, DLA Piper and Dechert to target the legal industry was formed in response to the challenges the pro bono sector was experiencing in finding safe routes for Afghan lawyers and judges. Fragomen, the world’s leading provider of immigration services, is a long-standing supporter of TBB’s Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot, providing legal expertise and advocacy to help establish the programme and a reduced fee visa application service for employers recruiting through the scheme.

A pilot group of law firms including Ashurst, DLA Piper, Dechert and Fragomen are currently working collaboratively to hire displaced lawyers. We plan to recruit a second cohort in Spring/ Summer 2023 and are looking for forward thinking law firms to join this initiative.

The 2022 PILnet Global Forum took place in Dublin where Gillian Triggs, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) congratulated the legal community on their achievements and encouraged them to expand their work. Ms. Triggs also highlighted the need for alternative routes to safety for displaced people.