Community of Practice

There is a growing desire within the legal field to take a more community-focused approach in litigation work. To harness this energy, alongside working with community partners on joint litigation, we are facilitating a Community of Practice for litigators, legal practitioners, and litigating organisations working on racial, social, economic, and environmental justice across Europe to rethink lawyering practices and develop collaborative working methods that centre communities in litigation.  

The Community of Practice has been created with the shared mission of working collectively to promote community-centred lawyering and reframe the litigation process so they can be more accessible and better serve communities resisting injustice and their objectives. It is a participatory, collaborative space for mutual learning and unlearning and the sharing of ideas, experiences, and best practices to develop and strengthen community-centred litigation in Europe.  

The Community aims to: 

  1. reflect on the power imbalances that currently exist between lawyers/litigating organisations and the communities or groups they seek to represent, and build and share knowledge, learning, and practice around more community-centred approaches to litigation for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice; 
  2. share knowledge, resources, strategies, and tools that can help strengthen the litigation work that Community participants are undertaking;  
  3. create an environment for mutual learning and support amongst the Community, including through workshops and group discussions. 

We aim to share our learnings widely, igniting a paradigm shift in the legal profession until community-centred methods become the norm, rather than the exception, in strategic litigation for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice.   

What we have done so far

Systemic Justice took the lead in establishing the Community of Practice. In the summer of 2022, we connected with over thirty organisations from the Council of Europe region to kickstart the process of establishing the Community, representing litigation work across a range of jurisdictions and issues, including environment and climate, LGBTQI+ rights, digital rights, migration, Roma rights, socio-economic rights, equality and non- discrimination, freedom of religion, and social protection. 

In October 2022, the Community had its first in-person meeting to lay the foundation for its structure and set the direction for its work. Over the course of 2022-2023, the Community established an online collaboration platform to facilitate continuous and active participation, and co-created a Community Agreement setting out the mission, values, governance structure, and participation guidelines of the Community. In July 2023, the Community held its first workshop on holistic approaches to strategic litigation 

It is crucial for the  Community of Practice to be a shared and collaborative space led by its  participants. We also recognise that in order to be effective and sustainable, the Community will need to be supported and facilitated. We will continue to sustain the Community by providing logistical support for its day-to-day running and activities.  

Structure of the Community of Practice

The Community structure is based around a Facilitation Committee and Project Hubs. The purpose of the Hubs is to develop and bring forward different areas of work throughout the year. The Facilitation Committee serves to facilitate the work of the Community overall. This structure is designed to ensure our Community remains a co-owned, collaborative space. 

In order to ensure participants get high value for their participation, there are three different levels of engagement in the Community of Practice. These are:  

  • a core level of engagement consisting of participants in the Facilitation Committee and Project Hubs; 
  • a contributing level of engagement consisting of participants on the Community’s collaboration platform;  
  • an affiliate level of engagement consisting of participants that receive detailed quarterly updates and resources produced by the Community.  
The header text says "Community of Practice. Levels of engagement."Below there are three blue shapes that remind abstract waves. It's written "Core participants" in one wave, "contributors" in the middle one and "affiliates" in the top wave.

The different levels of engagement allow us to better define responsibilities and workflows according to participants’ capacity and availability, whilst ensuring the Community has the operational capacity for the running of its activities.  

Our plans for 2023-2024

The work of the Community continues, and our collective plans are to: 

  • operationalise the co-created Community Agreement, which underpins the Community’s functioning; 
  • hold our second annual in-person retreat with the Community to strategise and workshop; 
  • implement at least two community projects on: 
  • developing methodologies for community-centred litigation, mapping existing resources, and facilitating shared learning and knowledge building amongst the Community on this topic;  
  • hosting regular litigation workshops for the Community. 

The implementation of the community projects include the development of knowledge sharing tools, including: 

  • skills-mapping to highlight existing expertise within the Community and areas for growth; 
  • resource libraries to pool valuable learnings; 
  • reading groups to promote knowledge-sharing and build capacity in specific areas or fields;  
  • workshops to collectively discuss specific cases or themes. 

How to get involved in the Community of Practice

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 

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