Giving back to the communities where we live and work is a priority at Norton Rose Fulbright. We encourage our people to take an active role in society, using their skills to help disadvantaged or vulnerable people in our local communities.
We have a highly-skilled workforce, able and willing to contribute both legal and non-legal skills to many worthy causes.
Participation in volunteer initiatives is open to all our people and many offices offer leave for colleagues to spend on approved projects.
We focus our community efforts on education, sports, disabilities and illnesses, volunteering at local schools, mentoring students, working in local hospitals and donating food, clothing and toys, as well as practical assistance to community charities and organizations worldwide.
Some of our volunteering initiatives include:
Empowering young people
Through our partnership with the Australian and Business Community Network (ABCN), as well as the work of our local charity communities and numerous pro bono matters, we provide a range of support to children and young people in need.
ABCN is a coalition of more than 30 national and global companies working to improve opportunities for disadvantaged schools through mentoring, partnering and providing support across Australia. The network operates in around 200 schools nationally.
We have acted as a partner to ABCN for four years, providing staff with the opportunity to take part in structured volunteering programs during office hours. Each of our offices puts forward 30 to 40 volunteers to take part in reading and mentoring programs with both primary and high school students, as well as programs to help high school students make career choices and learn interview skills.
We are proud that our work in assisting children and young people equates to more than A$230,000 in pro bono legal fees.
The United States
Helping the less fortunate
From participating in community food pantry and clothing drives to beach clean-up projects and March of Dimes walkathons, getting involved and making a difference is at the core of our foundation. Our US lawyers and staff not only volunteer countless hours, but also donate funds to organizations that provide services to those in need, such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, AIDS Walk Washington, Special Olympics-New York and the United Way.
We responded to the 9-11 World Trade Center tragedy, 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2011 Japan tsunami and other natural disasters around the world by making a substantial gift to a foundation we created to provide victim assistance funds. Additionally, our lawyers have provided legal assistance on a pro bono basis to victims of these disasters.
Three days for United Way
Our Canadian practice is a long-standing supporter of United Way, which links volunteers, businesses and local charities to help people in their own communities.
In 2016, our colleagues in Québec took part in volunteering days for three organizations supported by United Way. Ten of our colleagues met the children at the Pignon Bleu, an organization that helps children from disadvantaged families, by offering lunch and helping the children with arts and crafts workshops. Two teams of seven people also went to Café Rencontre Centre Ville to help with lunch service. The cafe provides meals to the poor and the homeless in the area and also provides tools and listening services to help people reintegrate into society. Five people spent a morning helping people at La Baratte, an employment reintegration program which helps out-of-work people to pursue a career in the catering industry.
200 hours for Calgary Food Bank
In January 2016, our Canadian offices organized a regional campaign to support the Calgary Food Bank, a long-time pro bono client. As well as making a donation, we encouraged colleagues to participate in some way by donating food, money or time to volunteer. In addition to donating food, 23 volunteers spent more than 200 hours assembling food crates, collecting contributions and other tasks in order to help upwards of 260 individuals and families who visit the Calgary Food Bank every day.
Europe, Middle East and Asia
Helping women to find jobs and confidence
Smart Works is a charity which focuses on women who are struggling to start their careers or get back into work after a prolonged break. It provides interview clothing and advice to optimize their chances of success. We started working with Smart Works through monthly clothing drives in our London office, and our relationship has gone from strength to strength over the years.
In addition to clothing drives, we provide volunteers to act as interview coaches. Our volunteers meet Smart Works clients prior to a job interview, to help them hone their interview techniques. We also host an annual networking event with Smart Works’ clients. Smart Works’ clients come from diverse backgrounds and most suffer from low self-esteem, particularly when it comes to finding a job. Many are single mothers, ex-offenders, ex-substance abusers, survivors of domestic violence, refugees, or homeless people for whom having a job is something they may feel beyond their reach. Over one in two Smart Works clients get the job.
Supporting children and young people
In Paris, we support the Secours Populaire, an association which fights poverty and exclusion in France and throughout the world. Alongside regular donations, as our annual winter volunteer initiative our Paris office takes part in a toy collection for underprivileged families, with colleagues distributing the toys collected at the Secours Populaire Christmas Fayre.
In Warsaw, we are regular visitors at the Dom Dziecka Soplicowo orphanage and colleagues make visits to see the children throughout the year to spend time playing and chatting with them, particularly at Christmas when we bring gifts for the young ones. Many of us are now well-known faces amongst the children.
In Brussels, we have a similar relationship with the Queen Fabiola Children's Hospital. Each year we give toys to the children as a Christmas gift, and we also take part in collections of food to be donated to the Hospital.
In London, a significant portion of our volunteering efforts are focused on raising education, literacy and employability for local young people and their families. As signatories of the National Literacy Trust, we work with local schools to provide assistance with reading and languages, as well as mathematics and sports. We also work with various community organizations to host skills-building workshops in our London office for at-risk and disadvantaged young people, aiming to boost their confidence, build their aspirations and help them progress in their careers.
In Japan, a team from our Tokyo office travelled to Fukushima together with the NGO group Little Olive Child Foundation, a charity which supports victims of the earthquake which caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 - the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Those who survived were evacuated and placed in temporary housing. To this day, families continue to experience great hardship. Children are discouraged from playing outside as the long term effects of radiation exposure are still unknown, and many local residents are still living in temporary housing.
For those people still living in temporary housing more than five years after the incident, we delivered food supplies to help them continue with their lives as normally and healthily as possible. As children cannot spend time outside, we delivered equipment to the indoor Funehiki Child Centre and helped the local children set up and play with items we had brought, including floor mats, a mini library and soft toys.