Vivek Maru

Ashoka Fellow
Washington, United States
Fellow Since 2014
My work: building a network of localized justice efforts for global legal empowerment.

Check out this video of Vivek Maru's work


Related TopicsCivic Engagement, Law and legal reform, Human Rights & Equality


This profile was prepared when Vivek Maru was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Vivek Maru is taking localized justice efforts, documenting their impact, weaving them into a cohesive network, and ultimately building the field of global legal empowerment. The core of Vivek’s work, through his organization Namati, is to connect all the efforts in legal empowerment globally to provide the evidence of their impact, advocate for legal empowerment as a global priority, and establish the field of legal empowerment in the way that primary health care has been established.

There have been numerous efforts in community justice, but most existing programs work in isolation and at a small scale. They rarely document their own impact, and they often don’t have access to lessons learned by their peers across borders.

Namati champions a method – grassroots legal advocates, or “community paralegals”. These paralegals are trained in basic law and in skills like mediation, organizing, education, and advocacy. They form a creative, low-cost, problem-solving frontline that can engage formal and traditional legal and administrative systems alike. Traditionally people have relied on lawyers to provide access to the law. But lawyers are costly, and focused on formal court channels that are impractical for most people. The vast majority of legal aid is focused on defending people charged with capital offenses.

Namati is working to provide a common language and platform for learning about best practices and advocating for primary justice services. While there is robust academic and high-level political discourse on the relationship between rule of law and development, these conversations were largely disconnected from grassroots efforts to build the rule of law. Vivek is connecting the academic with the grassroots and the grassroots efforts with each other in order to advocate for legal empowerment as a basic right for everyone.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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