What is ROLE UK?

The Rule of Law Expertise Programme (ROLE UK) is a DFID funded initiative that works to strengthen the rule of law in developing countries through supporting the provision of pro bono legal and judicial expertise.

ROLE receives applications for technical legal assistance from governments, professional bodies and civil society organisations. We source and fund this technical expertise, at no cost to the applicant, to support assignments that address rule of law and poverty reduction goals.  

ROLE is a flexible and responsive resource.  Through our network, we are able to respond quickly to source high quality, specialised experts, including private practice solicitors, barristers, government lawyers, academics and other relevant professional experts as well as sitting and retired judges.  

Alongside our active deployments, ROLE also seeks to strengthen the broader UK legal pro bono contribution in developing countries. We do this by emphasising knowledge sharing, improving coordination, and disseminating evidence and learning through publications and events. 

What activities does ROLE UK support?  

We facilitate support to short-term assignments typically between 3 and 30 days. Assignments may be desk-based or take place on the ground. Activities may include:

  • Training and mentoring support on specific areas of law, judicial skills, advocacy or alternative dispute resolution
  • Advice and support to review and develop legislation and regulatory frameworks 
  • Support to reform legal and judicial systems and development of robust legal frameworks
  • Strategic peer-to-peer relationship building and skills exchange
  • Analysing problems relating to the rule of law and access to justice and advising on appropriate solutions

How is assistance determined?

Each assignment is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Our evaluation process includes:

  1. An assessment of the application against a set of criteria. We will look for evidence that the proposed intervention is demand led, strategic, relevant and sustainable  
  2. Working with applicants to ensure that the outputs are likely to lead to outcomes which strengthen the rule of law and ultimately contribute to poverty reduction
  3. Ensuring that legal specialists are the best-fit for the assignment
  4. Engaging with the applicant and experts, to promote the adoption of best-practice tools used in the development sector, including risk analysis, monitoring and evaluation

Does ROLE UK offer support with applications for assistance?

Yes. We support the development of proposals and are happy to discuss any questions regarding applications, eligibility and support required.  We can help to clarify national rule of law goals and suggest appropriate steps to reach them.

What financial support does ROLE UK provide?

  • Technical expertise sourced through ROLE is provided at no cost to the applicant. 
  • ROLE additionally provides funding and logistical support for international travel, accommodation, visas, insurance and subsistence costs for deployments in-country
  • We can also contribute to direct associated costs for venues, translation and materials where relevant.  
  • ROLE does not fund whole project costs or directly manage assignments

What benefits does ROLE UK offer? 

ROLE UK adopts an innovative and flexible approach to development and rule of law programming.  The ROLE model has added value because it offers:

  • A strategic approach towards better project design,helping to articulate needs and thinking strategically about intended outcomes and changes 
  • Access to specialists who are not readily available on the open market 
  • Rapid turn-around times 
  • Peer to peer, practitioner to practitioner advice
  • Value for money
  • A unique, collaborative approach across government, the judiciary and private sector to avoid ad-hoc, isolated or duplicated pro bono activities 
  • A focus on monitoring and evaluation, identifying relevant and appropriate indicators of success
  • We share lessons learned from all assignments with the wider legal, government and development communities