For over ten years, the Norwegian law firm CMS Kluge has supported our work on rights and has been one of our largest and most important corporate partners.
The collaboration includes the exchange of knowledge and expertise, as well as legal assistance in major projects. The agreement also involves an expansion of both financial and professional support, in addition to an entirely new initiative: a lawyer from CMS Kluge has been working directly from NRC’s head office.
For the past year, Mahrukh Mahmood, 29, has been based at our head office in Oslo. After the summer break, she returned to her position as a trainee lawyer at CMS Kluge, where she feels very much at home, but she was a bit reluctant to bid farewell to her talented colleagues at NRC.
Couldn’t say no
“I was both happy and somewhat surprised by the offer I received a year ago. I enjoyed being a trainee lawyer, but it’s not often you have the opportunity to work in a large international organisation. I couldn’t say no, and I’m very glad I made that decision,” says Mahmood.
She has always been passionate about human rights and international work.
“My master’s thesis was related to human rights, and I have worked as a research assistant at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights during my studies,” she says.
Steep learning curve
Mahmood doesn’t hide the fact that the learning curve was steep, and the transition from CMS Kluge to NRC was significant in the beginning.
“I speak English well, and I think that was one of the prerequisites for being seconded, but it’s something else to have English as the working language in the legal field.”
Thanks to her skilled and supportive colleagues and an inclusive working environment at NRC, she quickly adapted to her tasks.
“I was thrown into it and found it challenging at the start, even though I received excellent support. I had to quickly delve into new areas of law, and during my time at NRC, I worked on contract law, labour law, data protection and sanctions – but, of course, much more. I was given a lot of responsibility quickly, and I led several internal projects. Looking back now, I’ve become very independent and gained more self-confidence.”
Protection and rights
Mahmood also had the opportunity to meet some of her colleagues in Jordan.
“We travelled to Jordan to hold courses on various legal areas for NRC staff working in the Middle East, and I also conducted a course on data protection. It was a very nice experience, both personally and professionally. Meeting colleagues, many of whom are refugees themselves, and getting close to the challenges facing them was inspiring and rewarding.”
Providing protection and safeguarding rights is an essential part of the work of NRC’s staff.
“It can be difficult for us coming from peaceful and well-organised Norway to fully grasp the many challenges facing displaced people. Many lack important documents such as passports, birth certificates and diplomas – things that are necessary to be a part of any society. And I was greatly impressed by how systematically and efficiently the work was carried out.”
In recent years, CMS Kluge has assisted NRC in shaping an ethical framework used by our lawyers who provide legal advice to displaced people in the countries where we operate.
“With support from CMS Kluge, NRC has become more professional and more efficient,” says Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
The financial support provided by CMS Kluge is crucial to our work.
“CMS Kluge’s generosity and active engagement are exemplary. The law firm is an excellent example of a company that puts corporate social responsibility into practice,” says Egeland.
A win-win situation
Mahmood describes the collaboration as a win-win situation.
“For me, the past year has been enriching, both professionally and personally. I have gained invaluable experience that I will benefit from in my future career. I also feel that I have become more self-assured in my job, but also more humble in relation to the profession and my colleagues. I also hope that NRC has gained something from my efforts.”
Mahmood also states that the collaboration with NRC and humanitarian efforts are important to CMS Kluge.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given and for the chance to highlight the social responsibility that CMS Kluge takes. You can call it a win-win situation,” says Mahmood, who recommends others to say yes if they get the same opportunity as she did.