As lawyers, we are in a unique position to help people in the communities where we live and work. We encourage our people to use their legal knowledge to benefit the disadvantaged, underprivileged and those who otherwise lack access to the services we can offer.
In our offices around the world we partner with organizations who share our commitment to offering assistance and legal knowledge to those who are in need.
Participation in pro bono initiatives is open to all our people, and many offices offer leave for colleagues to spend on approved projects.
Whether providing legal advice through local law centers and clinics or assisting charities and non-profits by offering assistance on legal matters, our pro bono clients are given the same care as those with billable work, and our people are given the opportunity to develop advocacy skills and experience.
Some of our initiatives include:
We support Advocates for International Development (A4ID), a global charity dedicated to assisting non-governmental organizations obtain pro bono services from lawyers committed to working with them in the global fight against poverty and discrimination.
In 2009, we became the first Canadian firm to be granted the status of A4ID legal partner and today we continue our partnership, which has expanded to include all Norton Rose Fulbright offices. We offer legal advice to NGOs and social enterprises working to further the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and achieving universal primary education and gender equality for women.
The United States
We represent individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries and seeking asylum in the United States – individuals who would otherwise be oppressed based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group, such as sexual orientation. We partner with nonprofits such as American Gateways and Immigration Equality, which identify and screen applicants for potential representation.
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
We have worked closely with the TLDEF for the successful resolution of several high-profile lawsuits filed by transgender individuals who faced discriminatory actions. Among them are the cases of Chase Culpepper, who was forced to remove her makeup before she was allowed to take her first driver’s license photo in South Carolina because her gender marker indicated she was a male, and Coy Mathis, who was denied access to the female restrooms at her elementary school because although she lived as a female, she was born a male.
Homeless, not voiceless
Attorneys in our Dallas office are representing the Dallas Street Choir (DSC) in its efforts to create a community arts center. The centre would serve, among other purposes, as a home and headquarters for the DSC. The DSC provides a musical and artistic outlet for the homeless population in downtown Dallas, and there are now homeless choirs forming in urban areas elsewhere in the country based on the DSC model.
In London, our lawyers provide weekly advice clinics at community law centers, assisting local people who may not otherwise have access to legal aid. We attend the Tower Hamlets Law Centre, advising on employment law matters, and the Croydon Law Center, part of South West London Law Centres, advising on consumer matters, small claims and tenant housing claims for rent deposits and repairs as well as eviction notices. We also support South West London Law Centres by providing venue space and marketing materials, and recently assisted with the implementation of a new, more efficient billing system.
Supporting First Australians and refugees
Almost half our pro bono work in Australia is dedicated to assisting the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and others who come to Australia seeking refuge or asylum. The work we do with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples generally relates to capacity building, governance and increasing access to justice. We assist asylum-seekers and refugees in crisis situations, helping them to obtain protection and representing them in reviews before the Department of Immigration.
Victims of family violence
We have a dedicated family violence pro bono network and we are working with a number of organizations on new and discrete aspects of family violence as well as many large research projects.
Helping the less fortunate
We work with Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World, providing advice on the eligibility of immigrants and refugees in Canada to receive public healthcare benefits. We also have developed a partnership with La Clinique Juridique, which operates a mobile clinic assisting the homeless at local shelters by finding pro bono services for various legal problems they may face.
Throughout 2016, lawyers in our Ottawa and Montréal offices have been volunteering as pro-bono counsel with the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program.
Restoring dignity to community unlawfully evicted from land
We secured a June 2016 victory for a vulnerable community in Mpumalanga who were unlawfully evicted from their land. Working with the South African Human Rights Commission, we represented a group of 150 villagers who were left destitute when their homes and belongings were destroyed. The North Gauteng High Court ruled in favor of these 50 families, determining that the Amashanga Tribal Authority and Bushbuck Ridge Local Municipality must construct new habitable dwellings for these individuals.
This was an important victory as it set an accountability precedent for traditional tribal authorities, municipalities and magistrates. We were honored for our work by ProBono.org, who cited the case as the most impactful of the year.
Domestic Law Firm of the Year for pro bono work
We were awarded Domestic Law Firm of the Year by the TrustLaw Awards 2016 for our work on 20 TrustLaw-referred matters for non-governmental organizations and social enterprises in South Africa.
Our work ranged from advising CBA, Malawi, in the establishment of a working relationship with Agricultural Commodity for Africa (ACE), to advising Waste to Food (Pty) Ltd. on a business structure and drafting of standard employment agreements, to assisting Visayan with research on employment conditions in the fishing industry in South Africa and advice on Seafarer Protections.