Kimberley Motley

International litigator
American lawyer Kimberley Motley is the only Western litigator in Afghanistan's courts; as her practice expands to other countries, she thinks deeply about how to build the capacity of rule of law globally.

Why you should listen

Kimberley Motley possesses a rare kind of grit—the kind necessary to hang a shingle in Kabul, represent the under-represented, weather a kaleidoscope of threats, and win the respect of the Afghan legal establishment (and of tribal leaders). At present she practices in the U.S., Afghanistan, Dubai, and the International Criminal Courts; as her practice expands to other countries, she thinks deeply about how to engage the legal community to build the capacity of rule of law globally.

After spending five years as a public defender in her native Milwaukee, Motley headed to Afghanistan to join a legal education program run by the U.S. State Department. She noticed Westerners stranded in Afghan prisons without representation, and started defending them. Today, she’s the only Western litigator in Kabul, and one of the most effective defense attorneys in Afghanistan. Her practice, which reports a 90 percent success rate, often represents non-Afghan defendants as well as pro-bono human rights cases.

What others say

“To the male-dominated Afghan court and prison establishment, she must appear to be someone from outer space. She acknowledges this but declares that she gets respect… She has proven to be a very effective and tenacious fighter.” — Tom Freston, Vanity Fair

Kimberley Motley’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Kimberley Motley

Live from TEDGlobal

In case you missed it: Day 4 of TEDGlobal 2014

October 10, 2014

TEDGlobal 2014 has wrapped up — here, some highlights from the last day of the conference. Onstage and online, it’s been a busy and fantastic Friday. Word spreads of Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize. Excitement was high at TEDGlobal this morning when the news came out that the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize had gone jointly to Pakistani education activist […]

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Live from TEDGlobal

Human rights heroes: A recap of session 11 of TEDGlobal 2014

October 10, 2014

From a speaker helping to contain the ebola outbreak to an America lawyer standing up for rights in Afghanistan to a journalist cracking open the Nigerian media, Session 11: Fighters was filled with crackling talks. A recap: Fred Swaniker kicks off the day with a bold vision for Africa’s future, which, he argues, rests squarely in […]

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