Trouble Kalua, Director, Malawi Legal Aid Bureau

In a new series highlighting the work of our partners, we spoke to Trouble Kalua, Director of the Malawi Legal Aid Bureau. Since its establishment in 2011, the Bureau has been dedicated to delivering high-quality legal assistance to marginalised communities, as well as promoting legal literacy among the general public. Over the years, we have consistently collaborated with Trouble and his team as part of our ongoing access to justice programme in Malawi.

Thanks for agreeing to speak with us today, Trouble. To begin, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?

My name is Trouble Kalua. Since the beginning of March, I am the Director of the Malawi Legal Aid Bureau, and I’m based at the Bureau’s headquarters in Lilongwe, Malawi. Previously, I was Deputy Director of the Bureau since March 2015. So, I have been with the Bureau for over eight years now.

Can you describe your current role at the Malawi Legal Aid Bureau? What are your responsibilities?

As Director, I am in charge of the Legal Aid Bureau across Malawi. I am responsible for the grant or refusal of legal aid, determining persons or matters in respect of which legal aid should be granted, establishment and management of legal aid offices within the country, outsourcing legal aid work, coordinating with other institutions in the provision of legal aid and disseminating information about the law to the public, among others.

Malawi Legal Aid Bureau staff showcasing their recent initiatives 

How did you get into this kind of work?

I have been practising as a legal practitioner for 22 years now. I have extensive experience as an advocate practising in all the courts in Malawi. For five years prior to joining the Legal Aid Bureau, I practised as a solo practitioner and developed a strong desire to assist people with legal services, especially the poor. Naturally, the Legal Aid Bureau was a perfect fit for me.

What are the main challenges currently facing the Malawi Legal Aid Bureau?

The main challenge remains resources. The Bureau, as a department of government, is funded by the government. This funding is grossly inadequate, making it extremely difficult for us to deliver on our statutory mandate. Related to this is our inability to attract and retain technical staff on government remuneration.

Malawi Legal Aid Bureau officers carrying out legal education
Malawi Legal Aid Bureau officers carrying out legal education

How do you manage the personal pressures and responsibilities of working in this context?

My work for the Legal Aid Bureau is driven by passion. Such being the case, I always strive to deliver even under difficult circumstances. I have come to accept that conditions may never be ideal so we just have to carry on doing what we can in the circumstances.

In your view, what needs to be done in order for meaningful change to happen within the Malawian justice system?

A lot needs to be done. But most of all, we need to improve access to justice. That includes improvement in the availability of judicial officers and structures even in the remotest of areas, as well as access to legal representation for all.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us today, Trouble. Best of luck with your valuable work. 

More in our series: