Community investment and pro bono work

It’s important that we give back to the communities in which we work and advise those who can’t access legal advice, while also developing our skills and ourselves.

The Hong Kong cityscape at night

Pro bono work

We firmly believe that providing pro bono legal advice and representation is a professional responsibility of all of our lawyers. We are committed to the recommendations and guidelines of the American Bar Association; the Association of the Bar of the City of New York; the District of Columbia, Resolutions on Pro Bono Services; and the Pro Bono Institute and its Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge ®.

Linklaters’ New York office leads the firm in effectively managing the skills and strengths of our attorneys and staff to bring about positive change for those who are mistreated, and in need. Our office is understandably proud, not only of its tradition of public service, but of its position as a leader in the firm’s diverse pro bono practice around the world.

Our lawyers work on a variety of pro bono matters with a number of leading organizations, including:

  • City Bar Justice Center
  • Immigration Equality
  • Lawyers Alliance for New York
  • New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
  • New York Office of the Appellate Defender
  • Sanctuary for Families
  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Vance Center for International Justice

We represent victims of persecution from countries around the world in their requests for asylum; assist women who are victims of domestic violence with their residency applications; advise immigration detainees; and provide support to nonprofit organizations seeking to improve economic development and quality of life in New York City’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Community investment

We focus our community support on programs that cover two global themes:

  • Growing Capabilities of nonprofits; and
  • Growing Aspirations and developing the skills of young people.

Our work also focuses on matters that promote access to justice. Our reach has extended across borders in our representation of social entrepreneurs and on rule of law initiatives. Recent representative projects include:

Governance Seminar

In June 2012, Linklaters hosted an inaugural seminar, , together with the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, the Saïd Business School’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, and the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed). We have had a central role in this annual event since its inception.

Seminar attendees include prominent academics, government representatives and policy makers, private sector figures, and practitioners from the aid sector. Over the course of each conference, they explore the importance of good governance in international development.

Our role in this event grew out of our Commitment to Action with the Clinton Global Initiative and the firm’s collaboration with Camfed. It resulted in the report, , which launched at the 2010 Skoll World Forum. As a firm, we have demonstrated a strong commitment to thought leadership in this field, and our legal expertise has readily translated into an ability to analyze and investigate models of governance, identify shortcomings and translate the accountability we commit to our clients to the aid sector and its relationship with those it seeks to serve.

Linklaters annually hosts the ‘Advancing Good Governance in International Development’ seminar, an event dedicated to issues of governance critical to the development sector. I’m honored to utilize my legal skills to improve the governance of civil society organizations.
Ulysses Smith
Professional Support Lawyer, New York

B the Change

Social entrepreneurship and impact investing are fast becoming very important movements as engines for social change. But global legal frameworks underpinning business entities and director duties were not originally designed to promote the operations of a for-profit company for which social benefits are integral to its purpose. B Lab, a U.S. not-for-profit, represents and promotes the global movement of entrepreneurs using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

B Lab certifies companies as being a “B Corp.” in the United States, or an “Empresa B” in Latin America, if the company can demonstrate that it has a positive impact on its stakeholders. Linklaters assisted B Lab in creating a multi-jurisdictional legal framework to support the use of business to achieve positive social change. We pursued an innovative multi-prong approach. First, we evaluated existing corporate laws; then we recommended language to be included in constitutional documentation of entities under existing laws to best achieve B Lab’s goals within the existing legal framework. Finally, we recommended changes to applicable laws to improve the legal framework.

The innovation of this project lies in the novelty and breadth of our legal advice, the global reach of our analysis to support B Lab’s global expansion and the impact of our work in communities globally. Our work with B Lab has been shortlisted for the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Awards for North America 2014: Innovation in a Social Responsibility Project.

Fostering the rule of Law in Liberia

The Liberian legal system is rooted in common law and is precedent-driven, requiring judges to take into account previous judicial decisions on the same or similar topics when giving a ruling in a case. The lack of a comprehensive index to case law, compounded by lack of access to court decisions in remote areas, posed a significant challenge to the doctrine of precedent.

Over a period of five years, a cross-disciplinary team of over 200 lawyers and trainees across eight offices completed the ambitious task of producing an indexed digest of the jurisprudence of Liberia from the 1860s onwards. As a result of their multi-party effort with Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB), Linklaters, Thomson Reuters, the World Bank and a number of others, judges and lawyers are now able to access, consider and build upon Liberian case precedent. In addition to this, we worked together with LWOB to prepare comic books designed to educate lawyers and the public in Liberia on their rights around human trafficking.

The digest marks the beginning of a new era in Liberian law. Overall, the project is a testament to what is possible with the right commitment by the right parties, and serves as a replicable model of sustainability and best practice. The project won Global Pro Bono Project of the Year, Africa, in 2014 by The American Lawyer.

The Liberia Case Index Project illustrates the enormous potential of strategically leveraged pro bono resources and truly demonstrates “best practice” in long-term sustainability. The impact of distributing the Liberian case digests and index would truly not have been possible without the commitment, vision and skill of a superlative team at Linklaters. The effort and organization involved was colossal and should not be underestimated. In my sector, I don’t believe that work like this has been completed in such a compressed timetable on such a large scale before. An informed and consistent legal system is an effective one, and thanks to Linklaters these reference materials allow us to work together with our Liberian colleagues toward better legal governance.
Christina Storm, Founder and Director of Lawyers Without Borders