Andra Matei

Founding Director

Andra is an art law lawyer practicing in Paris. Her core expertise relates to creating unique legal strategies and the mobilization of teams that include both legal and art experts to best protect artists and the creation process. Prior to founding Avant-Garde Lawyers, she worked at the European Court of Human Rights where she assessed the ways in which national judicial authorities upheld the rights of applicants in hundreds of cases. Alongside legal practice, Andra lectures in human rights strategic litigation, artistic freedom and the rights of artists. She regularly teaches Art on Trial, a course for case-lawyers at the Strasbourg Court and is the founder of Speak Truth to Power Project, a platform that uses role-play to challenge legal professionals in international courts to reflect on their work from the plaintiff’s perspective. Andra holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights from the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice and a postgraduate diploma from the International Faculty of Comparative Law in Strasbourg. In 2011 she was awarded the Eiffel Scholarship of Excellence from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in 2021 she received the Pro Bono Prize of the Paris Bar and title of Lawyer Emeritus of the Quebec Bar. 

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Magnus Ag

Strategy Adviser

Magnus is part of the founding team of Avant-Garde Lawyers. He is an international human rights and freedom of expression advocate and the founder and director of Bridge Figures, a digital human rights project amplifying cultural diversity and creative expressions for social change. Previously he worked for Freemuse, a CSO promoting artistic freedom worldwide, and for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York where he spent 5 years advocating for freedom of expression and leading missions to Bangladesh, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and Zimbabwe, as well as Brussels, Geneva, New York and Washington DC. Magnus also worked for the Danish Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation and in 2007, he developed the first social media campaign for the Mayor of Auckland, in New Zealand. Magnus holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Copenhagen. Follow Magnus on Twitter: @AgMagnus

Federica Erilmi

Executive Consultant

Federica joined Avant-Garde Lawyers in December 2019 as Project Officer. An advocate of intellectual property rights, Federica makes the protection of creative processes, ideas, expressions and artworks, a personal objective. Alongside her part-time responsibilities at Avant-Garde Lawyers, Federica works as Legal Counsel for a scale-up company in the field of FinTech, where she is also the DPO. Federica holds an LLM degree in Intellectual Property Law from the University of Copenhagen and a Bachelor’s degree in European Law conferred by the University of Aberystwyth and the University of Utrecht. Connect with Federica on LinkedIn.

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Laura Pasquero

Gender Expert

Laura joined our team in September 2020. She is a technical and operational adviser, trainer and researcher in the area of gender, including gender-based violence prevention and response, within the humanitarian, international relief and human rights fields. She regularly supports gender transformative work within international agencies, national and international NGOs, and civil society organisations, primarily in conflict and displacement settings. Laura graduated in International Relations from the University of Turin (Italy), obtained a Master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation from the Global Campus of Human Rights and qualified as an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) from the University of Worcester (UK).

Sanchit Saluja

Programme Manager

Sanchit joined Avant-Garde Lawyers in 2022. He is a graduate in Cultural Policy and Management from Sciences Po, Paris and has done his undergraduate studies in Law and Arts from National University, New Delhi. He has prior experience working in the field of advocacy and campaigns with Freemuse, a CSO working in the domain of artistic freedom. He is proficient in English, French and Hindi.


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Daria Chistiakova

Case Officer

Daria is a human rights lawyer striving to specialise in intellectual property law and protection of freedom of expression.
Holder of a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in law from the Higher School of Economics in Saint-Petersburg, she acquired extensive experience as a legal counsel in Russia. She further worked as a case-processing lawyer of the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights where she got a chance to treat applications lodged against Russia and to draft judgements of the Court on wide range of conventional issues. Daria currently follows a second year master’s program in intellectual property law at the CEIPI, University of Strasbourg.

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Anthi Polatidou

Project Assistant

Anthi is a graduate in Political Science with a specialisation in the post-Soviet space. Her interest encompass the sphere of arts and artists. She is interested in research and the influence it can have on changing policies regarding artistic freedom in the post-Soviet space, especially in Russia. At the same time she loves literature and her engagement with it is specifically random. She is fascinated by digital media and is interested in using them to contribute to the processes of translation, subtitling and archiving. She has collaborated with artists to write music lyrics, translate poetry collections and curate art exhibitions. She maintained a small literary prose poetry column for a year in the online magazine Dubium and has co-organised the first and second KilkisArtFest to support contemporary local artistic production and creation. She loves acrobatics, dance and printmaking. In her spare time she is a DJ and is interested in playing contemporary electronic music. 

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Natalia Bale

Legal Fellow

 Natalia is a legal professional with over 15 years of experience. She worked as an in-house Legal Counsel in major multinational companies, gaining experience in different areas, including commercial, competition, corporate, procurement, IT, IP, media, privacy, and others. Now she is working as a solo legal counsel focusing on intellectual property rights and protection which she would like to make her focus in the following years. She has lived  in Hong Kong and is currently based  in Singapore. During  her life abroad she has found several insights on cultural diversity which have  deepened her passion for the history of human rights, including artistic freedom of expression and its development in different countries. Natalia holds an LLM degree in Private International Law from Moscow State Academy of Law. She speaks Russian, English and French.

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Askold Kurov

Art Fellow

Askold is an award-winning Documentary Filmmaker from Russia. He has directed and co-directed several critically acclaimed films, including Winter, Go Away! (2012), Children 404 (2014), and The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov (2017). Askold’s films have been screened at several reputed film festivals, including the Venice Film Festival and the Verzio Film Festival. His work has focused on human rights and social conflict in contemporary Russia, often exploring the harassment of socially engaged artists through judicial systems and authoritarian legal frameworks. 


Alice Kane

Student Ambassador

 Alice is an LLB graduate from the University of Glasgow currently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Rights Law. Her interest in freedom of expression was piqued when she wrote her dissertation on Salman Rushdie and the repeal of the blasphemy offence in Britain. Fascinated by how artistic freedom is understood and upheld so disparately across different societies, she became deeply moved and invested in our mission to defend this freedom. She hopes to help motivate the next generation of lawyers to champion our cause by acting as a Student Ambassador for AGL.

Beyond academia, Alice is passionate about ensuring access to justice. She actively volunteers with the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, providing legal assistance to members of her community in need. In her view, just as art has the power to transform, so too does law. She believes that it is through pro bono work that the law can genuinely effect transformation, empowering all individuals to live their lives with freedom and dignity.

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Francesca Porumbel

Legal Fellow

Francesca joined Avant-Garde Lawyers in 2023. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Latin American Studies, Spanish, and English from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her LLB at the University of York in the UK. She is the Property Law and Equity Section Editor of the Eborlex Law Journal at the University of York. She has experience working in corporate commercial law in Toronto and has worked on criminal appeals cases with the pro bono group, SEQUENTUS, in the UK. Beyond academia, Francesca enjoys learning about art in all of its forms. She believes that art and artistic freedom are pillars and signs of a healthy society. She is passionate about artists’ rights to express themselves and share their unique view of the world with the public. She is proficient in English, Romanian and Spanish.

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Manfred Nowak

Manfred Nowak is a renowned Austrian human rights expert, currently serving as the Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights, the largest network of human rights educators in the world, including about 100 Universities and 7 regional Master programmes in different world regions. Manfred who served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture from 2004 to 2010 is also Professor for International Human Rights at the University of Vienna and Director of the Vienna Master of Arts in Applied Human Rights at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Manfred is also a former judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina and in 2016, he was appointed Independent Expert leading the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. 

Julia Laffranque

Julia Laffranque is a former judge (2011-2019) at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. A previous Justice of the Supreme Court of Estonia (2004–2010) and Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice of Estonia (1996-2004). Awarded the Estonian White Cross, she is Chevalier de l’Ordre National du MĂ©rite of France. President of the Consultative Council of European Judges of Council of Europe (CCJE) (2008-2010), President of the International Federation for European Law (FIDE) from 2010-2012 and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague). Doctor Iuris (PhD) of Law at the University of Tartu and LL.M from University of MĂŒnster, Germany. Julia has published over 100 articles in Estonian, English, German and French in different European and US-American legal journals and speaks Estonian, German, English, French, Finnish and Russian. Her hobby is amateur acting and drama (a member of Vilde Teater in Estonia and Tagora Theatre in Strasbourg). Founder of theTheatre Club of European Court of Human Rights (2015). Julia is also a singer in the European Choir of Estonians .

Nani Jansen Reventlow

Nani is a recognized international lawyer and expert in human rights litigation responsible for groundbreaking freedom of expression cases across several national and international jurisdictions. Nani obtained the first freedom of expression judgment from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (KonatĂ© v. Burkina Faso) and from the East African Court of Justice (Burundi Journalists’ Union v. Burundi). She currently works together with Leigh Day to bring new cases to the African regional human rights courts. Founding Director of the Digital Freedom Fund, which supports partners in Europe to advance digital rights through strategic litigation. Nani is also an Associate Tenant at Doughty Street Chambers, a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School and an Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she was a 2016-2017 Fellow. Nani has overseen the litigation practice of the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) globally, leading or advising on cases before the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and several African regional forums (2011-2016).

Malcolm Langford

Malcolm Langford is a Professor of Public Law, University of Oslo and Co-Director of the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, Chr. Michelsen Institute and University of Bergen. A lawyer and social scientist, his publications span human rights and freedom of expression, international investment, international development, comparative constitutionalism, technology and the politics of the legal profession. Malcolm’s awards include the University of Oslo Teaching Prize 2019, the University Medal in Economics from the University of NSW and the Young Scholar Prize from the European Society of International Law for his paper on Managing Backlash. Malcolm is also Co-Editor of the Cambridge University Book Series on Globalization and Human Rights, leads a major research programme on the politics of branding the Nordic Model, and co-coordinates three large research grants on the politics of rights. Director of the Centre on Experiential Legal Learning (CELL) and coordinator the Digital Lawyer project with financing from DIKU.  Chairperson of the Academic Forum for Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), coordinates the Forum for Law and Social Science, co-directs the Global School on Socio-Economic Rights and Constitutional Law and Rights research groups, An advisor to various UN bodies, governments and NGOs. He sits on the board of the European Implementation Network (EIN), ICJ-Norge and JustLabs.

Kimberley Motley

Kimberley Motley has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most respected & successful international lawyers in human rights. Motley is the first & only foreign lawyer to litigate in Afghanistan’s criminal, civil, & commercial courts. Her international practice has grown and she represents people on almost every continent.
Kimberley’s success has included but is not limited to, securing the first Presidential Pardon for a rape victim charged with adultery which subsequently decriminalized running away as a crime in Afghanistan, successfully returning children & women from the UK, Australia, U.S, etc who were internationally abducted, successfully working towards the release of Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia and releasing Cuban artist El Sexto from prison. Her expert legal work has earned international attention on BBC, CNN, as well as profiles in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, among many others. Kimberley Motley has given a TED TALK with over a million views entitled “How I Defend the Rule of Law.” An award-winning documentary highlighting her work entitled “Motley’s Law” was released in 2015. In addition to this, Motley’s book LAWLESS was released in September 2019.



To help us better achieve our goals, we have built a network of public interest lawyers committed to the delivery of legal services at no fee or at substantially reduced fees to artists of limited means.