Advancing human rights and equality
through public interest litigation

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Attending our Bryan Stevenson event this weekend? Here’s what you need to know…

So, you’ve put 14 August in your diary, registered on the Féile 2021 website and are looking forward to hearing Bryan Stevenson’s insights at 20.00 this Saturday.
Before the broadcast goes live, here are some key things you need to know:

This event is a one-off.

The PILS Project team are delighted to be welcoming Bryan and introducing him to a Belfast audience as part of the 2021 Féile an Phobail programme. The event will go live at 20.00 on Saturday 14 August for a one-time broadcast on the festival’s website, FB page and YouTube channel. This is a unique opportunity to spend an evening in the company of the lawyer that has been described as ‘America’s Nelson Mandela’ – so make sure to register in advance for a reminder email, have your laptop charged and snacks ready for 20.00!


Just Mercy = just the beginning.

The box office hit starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx as Bryan and one of his first clients, Walter McMillan, introduced audiences to the work of the Equal Justice Initiative. The 2019 film charts the legal journey that both men undertook together, based on the memoir of the same name written by Bryan. The action on screen might stop in 1993 but that was just the start of Bryan’s decades-long career in the pursuit of justice. Read more about EJI’s landmark cases here.


Pro bono work is powering human rights progress globally.

Pro bono is the term most commonly used to describe the multitude of free services provided by lawyers on a voluntary basis. Even the phrase itself stems from the Latin maxim pro bono publico – meaning ‘in the public good’. Bryan has spoken about the potential for legal professionals to use their skills to make a difference, calling pro bono cases “empowering and affirming and exciting”.

All around the world, legal professionals are sharing their expertise this way. In their 2020 global analysis of 150,000 lawyers working across 91 jurisdictions, Trust Law found that they had contributed 3.96 million hours of assistance pro bono.


Public interest litigation is happening in Northern Ireland too.

Changemakers in Northern Ireland are also utilising legal tools to achieve positive social change – and our Project was set up to support those efforts. Since 2009, PILS has connected local solicitors and barristers with human rights organisations working on the ground. By collaborating on strategic challenges that (if successful) will drive lasting change for whole communities, not just individuals, we can ensure that these cases leave a legacy.

You can read more about the types of litigation happening in the public interest in Northern Ireland in our PILS Impact Report.

The PILS Project can’t wait to share Bryan’s insights on these topics – and more – with all of you on Saturday 14 August. Make sure to tune in on the night at 20.00 (as the event will not be available to replay on demand). Register for a reminder email on the Feile website here.