We encourage our people to use their legal knowledge on a pro bono basis to help people in the communities where we live and work, who otherwise lack access to the services we offer.
In our offices around the world we partner with organizations which share our commitment to offering assistance and legal knowledge to those who are in need.
Participation in pro bono initiatives is open to all of our lawyers. In some cases, our offices offer leave for colleagues to spend time on approved pro bono projects whilst in others, we encourage and promote engagement by recognising and rewarding those who give their time to participate in pro bono work.
Whether providing legal advice through local law centers and clinics or assisting charities and non-profits by offering assistance on legal matters, we provide our pro bono clients with the same high standards of client service as our fee-paying clients, and in return, our people are given the opportunity to develop valuable experience and advocacy skills.
Some of our pro bono highlights include:
The United States
Favorable settlement reached for client in complex civil rights case
Appointed by US Magistrate Judge Jason Libby in 2017, our Houston office represented Jimmy Arneal Butler in a civil rights dispute against two prison guards in a matter that was referred to us by the Federal Bar Association.
In July 2018, our disputes team secured a highly favorable result for the client, settling this demanding prisoner civil rights case that involved a wide range of sophisticated constitutional issues.
Mr Butler alleged that the defendant guards violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to protect him from a violent assault by another inmate while Mr Butler was restrained in his cell. The defendant guards asserted a defense of qualified immunity.
In the spring of 2017, our lawyers succeeded in their argument that discovery should be broadened outside the scope of qualified immunity, and the case was then set for a jury trial before US District Judge Hilda G Tagle in July 2018.
Ultimately, the matter was resolved on the eve of trial after two years of litigation that involved extensive discovery. Mr Butler received financial compensation and was transferred to a different prison unit.
Helping the homeless with Médécins du Monde
In Canada, we are acting on behalf of Médécins du Monde, challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec’s policy of denying access to the public healthcare system to Canadian-born children of immigrants whose status in Canada is not yet regularized.
Médécins du Monde is an international organization which helps homeless people from its mobile medical trucks and provides free healthcare to those not covered by the public health regime, or who are unable to afford tests or other procedures. In addition to dispensing medical care, these clinics reintegrate and connect homeless patients with other social services.
Europe, Middle East and Asia
Lawyers 4 lawyers
We help Lawyers 4 lawyers, a Dutch independent non-political organization which lobbies for lawyers who are threatened and prevented from implementing internationally accepted law in some parts of the world, including in Latin America and China. The organization brings such cases to the attention of national and international institutions and organizations, including the United Nations and the European Parliament.
We created a toolkit for its representatives in Russia to help lawyers, particularly those advocating for human rights, to communicate the vital role played by lawyers. This toolkit, will, we hope, promote an understanding of the concept of a fair trial under international law using selected case studies which demonstrate best practice in other jurisdictions.
Reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
We provide pro bono legal assistance to Indigenous corporations and communities, including, for example, the Redfern and La Perouse Aboriginal Communities, the Gujaga Foundation and Artists in Black, as well as a number of individuals. We are also longstanding participants in the Career Trackers Indigenous Internship Program and are currently preparing our third Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) with Reconciliation Australia to improve opportunities for Indigenous peoples and communities in Australia.
Clean water for all
We worked with the South African Human Rights Commission to obtain a court order challenging the South African government’s failure to deliver sufficient potable water to some 3,500 of the country’s poorest, most vulnerable households. Some of these people survived for years on almost a third of the 25-liter minimum weekly supply which by law the State is required to provide.
The water supplied was contaminated by cholera and E.coli and people were walking long distances to access alternative water sources.
The court order resulted in the households concerned obtaining a sufficient but temporary supply of water. We are now acting in a second round of litigation to pursue a permanent solution in the form of water supply infrastructure.
For more information about our pro bono work, including our work with legal advice clinics, please read our Corporate Responsibility brochure