Bringing our collective vision to life: the Community of Practice one year on

“It was exciting to see the community growing and making strong grounds towards future actions.” – Participant at the Community of Practice Retreat 2023 

Our second in-person retreat of the Community of Practice has just come to a close, marking the first anniversary of this Community of lawyers, litigators, and litigating organisations.

The shared mission of the Community of Practice is to collectively promote community-centred lawyering and reframe litigation processes so they can be more accessible and better serve communities resisting injustice and their objectives.  

Group photo of Community of Practice participants 2023

Community of Practice 2023 participants

While we articulated this mission during our first Community of Practice retreat, at this year’s in-person convening we really honed in on how we aim to see this mission come to life – both in terms of how we carry out this work internally as a Community, and how we see ourselves learning and developing the tools to put our vision for community-centred lawyering into practice in Europe.    

Tucked away in a beautiful eco-farm in the French countryside, Community participants spent three days connecting with one another after a year of collaborating online. With a light agenda and opportunities to explore the beautiful surroundings, the retreat also served as a great occasion to bond and renew our collective commitment to community-centred litigation, while learning about each other’s casework and experience. Participants expressed it really felt like “we [were] creating something here.”  

And indeed, our objectives for this year’s retreat were twofold: to operationalise our working structure and methods in order to sustain the Community’s work, and to co-design our plan for this year’s activities as a Community, while continuing to build trust and a sense of community amongst participants. 

Workshop at the Community of Practice 2023

We opened the retreat by celebrating our achievements from our first year of activity. This was followed by two sessions dedicated to operationalising the infrastructure for the Community, in particular the structure and engagement principles that will support our work moving forward. Back by popular demand, we also held a brief litigation workshop exploring some central questions of our ongoing and future work:  

  • How do we define community-centred litigation? What does it look like?  
  • How do we define “success” in community-centred litigation?  
  • How do we honour and uplift knowledge and practices that already exist at the community level? 
  • What is the role of lawyers in community-centred litigation? 
  • When the law does not work for communities… then what? 

Workshop at the Community of Practice 2023

“This was a great experience to [connect with] other lawyers from across Europe engaged in similar work exploring how to do this better for the communities we try to represent.” Participant at the Community of Practice Retreat 2023 

We closed the retreat with a final grounding session in which we reflected on our time together and collectively designed our action plan for the year. High on our list of priorities was to confirm participation in the Community’s levels of engagement and formally establish the Facilitation Committee, Methods Hub and Learning and Collaboration Hub to meet our shared objectives to develop community-centred methodologies, and organise litigation workshops and other opportunities for mutual learning and collaboration. Last but not least, participants set out to organise a third in-person retreat for 2024! 

Community members expressed they left feeling energised and motivated to continue building on the Community’s work, with a renewed sense of urgency, accountability, and commitment to our mission and values. The flexible pace of the agenda meant the retreat could act as a space for both collective reflection and learning, in an informal yet stimulating environment. One participant said, “This retreat is what we need to build tomorrow: you realise your strange ideas are realistic with people you can trust!”  

If you are a litigator or part of a litigating organisation working on racial, social, economic, and environmental justice in the Council of Europe region, and believe your work could benefit from being part of the Community, you can get involved by emailing us at  

The retreat was made possible thanks to an in-kind donation by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for Human Progress, who kindly provided the use of the venue (La Bergerie de Villarceaux). 

Workshop at the Community of Practice 2023

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