This year at the 2018 Global Forum in Berlin, PILnet was honored to have international lawyer Kimberley Motley as the keynote speaker. Kimberley Motley is the first foreign attorney to litigate in Afghanistan’s Courts and is considered one of the most effective attorneys operating in Afghanistan.

“Rule of law means nothing if there is no role for law,” she said addressing over 400 participants from 52 countries spanning the private and public sectors of the legal profession. In her keynote address, Motley challenged the audience to be creative when standing up for the rule of law and to push beyond the boundaries of what they think is the role of law in our societies. She shared her approach to how she uses law as a tool for social change. Motley demonstrated the effectiveness of using non-traditional methods to help clients, giving as examples from her own work of how she’s used religious law to defend human rights and technology to help a teenage girl escape an arranged marriage.

While Motley’s international legal practice started in Afghanistan, she has clients all over the world whom she represents, including Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, Danilo Maldonado a.k.a. “El Sexto” in Cuba, and Nilofar Rahmani in the U.S. Her approach, called Motley’s Law, “according to the trademark definition, is an immersive practice of law that takes into consideration cultural, societal, legal, and other factors.” Her speech was a remarkable reminder of how law can be used to help society and how lawyers can use law to help the vulnerable. Motley believes law can create change in any part of the world but it is more needed in vulnerable communities.

She has rejected the idea of there being limitations to her professional abilities because of her gender and religion. Instead she uses this to her advantage in representing both men and women and uses religious laws to challenge unjust practices. Motley’s keynote was a reminder of the purpose of law and that the very nature of the legal profession is a noble cause. She inspired participants to break barriers in areas where there are gender, jurisdictional, religious, or cultural challenges to achieving justness. Kimberley Motley encompassed the theme of the Forum, “Law for Change” and emphasized that in just societies, law works for all.