The annual Nootbaar Conference took place at Pepperdine Law’s Malibu campus on March 11th and 12th. Speakers from around the country were convened by Executive Director of the Nootbaar Institute, Bob Cochran, and invited to share their wisdom on the topic of Doing Justice without Doing Harm. The book When Helping Hurts, authored by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, inspired this theme. The premise of the book explores how non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) have approached poverty alleviation, and essentially all forms of “doing good.” The research exposes surprising truths that some common and well-known “doing good” approaches to poverty can actually have a negative impact on those sought to be helped. Fikkert joined us at our gathering and spoke to this topic, and while his research and presentation stood at the core of the conference, the scope of the discussion was widened to include a number of topics that fit the broad theme. Forty-five speakers contributed to the discussion, including a keynote address by International Justice Mission President, Gary Haugen, who presented compelling themes from his groundbreaking book on global poverty, The Locust Effect.
Among the topics presented and discussed at the conference were: Responses to Poverty, Religious Freedom and Third-Party Harms, Race, International Justice, Western Concepts of Law and Justice, Religion and Law, and Teaching Law Students to Love Justice.
For the law students interested in Human Rights work as a career, the conference hosted an afternoon session entitled Doing Justice and Avoiding Harm on the Front Lines. Speakers included: Kim Biddle, founder of Saving Innocence, a domestic anti-trafficking agency based in LA; Shannon Sedgwick Davis, CEO of the Bridgeway Foundation; Brittany Stringfellow Otey, director of Pepperdine’s Legal Aid Clinic; Leah Boyd, director of Justice Initiatives at ALARM; Jim Black, cofounder of Sole2Soul Homeless Outreach, a Saddleback Church initiative; and Professor Jim Gash, Pepperdine’s Global Justice Program director and author of Divine Collision: An African Boy, An American Lawyer, and Their Remarkable Battle for Freedom.
Conference materials are available on the Nootbaar Institute website as well as a link to the recordings of most of the sessions. Next year’s conference theme and information will be up on the website in early fall.