American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI)
CEELI was co-founded by firm member Homer Moyer in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as a pro bono public service project of the American Bar Association (ABA) to advance the rule of law by assisting the law reform process in the aspiring democracies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Under Mr. Moyer’s chairmanship, CEELI grew to become the largest pro bono project the ABA has ever undertaken.
- More than 5,000 American lawyers, judges, and legal scholars, as well as distinguished professionals from Canada and Europe, have served without pay as CEELI volunteers in more than 30 countries and have provided nearly $190 million in pro bono legal services and assistance. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “CEELI volunteer liaisons have provided the most cost effective and creative programs in the world today. Such volunteerism should make each of us stand a bit taller and bask in the reflected beneficence of their contributions.”
- On the basis of its contribution to CEELI, Miller & Chevalier was honored at a special presentation at the ABA Annual Meeting in 2001. Then ABA President Martha Barnett lauded the contribution of “this great law firm” in supporting CEELI, which she described as “the crown jewel” of the ABA. She went on to say that Miller & Chevalier “has helped to make CEELI one of the premier pro bono initiatives in the history of the American Bar Association.”
- Former Attorney General Janet Reno described CEELI as “the worthiest pro bono project that American lawyers have ever undertaken.”
In 1999, following a decade of rapid growth and success of CEELI, the CEELI Institute was founded as a permanent post-graduate lawyer and judicial training center in Prague.
- The CEELI Institute is a unique and versatile educational and training institution focused exclusively on advancing the rule of law. Headquartered in Prague, the Institute serves all of the countries of Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, and beyond. Among those trained at the Institute have been judges from more than 31 countries, including the chief justices of several countries, the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, and 140 Iraqi judges.
- On June 8, 2007, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Czech President Vaclav Havel, and Homer Moyer presided over the dedication of the fully restored historic headquarters of the CEELI Institute, Villa Groebovka. At the ceremony, speakers recognized the essential role of the rule of law in creating peaceful and just societies and acknowledged the unique roles played by CEELI and the CEELI Institute in helping bring about the rule of law in emerging democracies.
- Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described Villa Groebovka as “a fitting home for a majestic project,” adding that, “In my judgment, CEELI is the most effective voluntary legal assistance project in history.”