Maryam Age 3
Maryam, age 3, with her mother and siblings on arrival to the United States

Since last summer, more than 75,000 Afghans fled the Taliban and resettled in the United States. Among these refugees are several judges and lawyers.

In 2022, SABA San Diego launched an Afghan Outreach Project designed to support these individuals in their efforts to make connections and find employment. In contrast to scholarship and fellowship projects that are currently being developed by other groups, we are focused on securing entry-level legal sector positions to provide a starting point for refugee-lawyers.

Maryam Baqi chairs SABA San Diego’s project. She understands the refugee experience on a personal level, having arrived with her family from Afghanistan to Southern California in the 1980s.

Our approach

Our immediate priority is to assist refugee-lawyers in San Diego in securing meaningful employment in the legal sector as case assistants, file clerks, or legal secretaries at law firms, non-profits, and educational institutions. We pair each person with a mentor, help update CVs and reference lists, search job boards, schedule mock interviews, and reach out to our networks to find and create opportunities. For Afghan refugee-lawyers outside San Diego, we connect them with mentors from other SABA chapters who can assist with the job search process.

Through our ongoing efforts, we have learned the landscape of refugee assistance programs and recognize the extraordinary challenges of finding housing and employment in three short months after arriving to a new place without family ties or networks. Even for refugees with job-ready skills and work authorization, the challenges can be daunting.

Making a difference will require employers to lead by creating roles for refugee-lawyers and accelerating the hiring timeline to respond to their financial realities. The individuals in our network are bright, highly skilled, fluent in English, extremely hardworking, and eager to learn. They will add value to your organization and to our legal community.

Our educational mission

Beyond addressing the immediate needs of resettled Afghan judges and lawyers, SABA San Diego seeks to learn from their stories to foster dialogue and exchange. Through virtual presentations, we aim to provide refugee-lawyers with a basic introduction to the state and federal court system and explore the life of a civil or criminal case. We hope that in the future, we can also host events to learn from our Afghan lawyer counterparts how best to uphold the rule of law.

Who we work with

  • Affiliated SABA chapters
  • International Association of Women Judges
  • Upwardly Global
  • Resettlement agencies and their volunteer partners (including Helping El Cajon Refugees and License to Freedom in San Diego)
  • San Diego Refugee Forum

Get involved

Contact sabasd.afghanoutreach@gmail.com if you are:

  • A law student or lawyer interested in volunteering to:
    • Practice English with a refugee-lawyer
    • Search job boards for entry-level legal sector roles
    • Help update CVs, review cover letters, or assist with interview prep
  • An employer seeking to hire a resettled Afghan judge or lawyer
  • An Afghan judge or lawyer who speaks English and seeks job assistance
  • A SABA chapter president interested in joining our efforts