Carole Conn, Director of Public Service Programs, SF-Marin LRIS and ADR
Those who participate as attorney panelists in the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) are up to some interesting things. Case in point: LRIS panel attorney Inder Comer, who mixes his IP and business practice with international human rights law.
Recently, he advocated on behalf of a progressive political party in South Korea which supports reunification with the North. The government has accused the party of being a “revolutionary organization” and initiated proceedings to dissolve it. Before that, he spent time in Jordan working with his Iraqi client who asserts that the U.S. war in Iraq violated the Nuremberg Principles. This case is now pending appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
Carole Conn (CC): How did you come to include international human rights work into your practice?
Inder Comar (IC): It happened by accident, actually. As a lawyer under 40, my initial focus has always been on maintaining and building a strong practice. But as a lawyer, too, I’ve always felt an affirmative obligation to use the law to create positive social impact. It was mostly through conversations about this that I first met Sundus, the Iraqi plaintiff in the Iraq war lawsuit.
CC: What is this lawsuit about?
IC: Essentially, the lawsuit seeks to hold the Bush administration accountable for a premeditated “war of aggression” against Iraq, in violation of principles set down at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. Those principles define war crimes.
CC: This seems like a long shot – is it?
IC: That defines this work. You are always up against huge odds but giving voice for a fair and just world is why you do it, again and again and again. I am happy to have a solid corporate practice these days that helps support this work which would be hard to secure funding for or interest from other people in a more conventional law firm setting.
CC: Where else have you been in the world doing human rights work?
IC: My first human rights project was in law school, where I spent time in Romania with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) at their Bucharest location as a liaison between UNHCR and local NGOs, to help refugees. At the time, Romania was also trying to accord its human rights obligations under various treaties. That was my first taste of human rights work and I guess I’ve never forgotten it.
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