Foundation honours outstanding pro bono legal projects at TrustLaw Awards ceremony in New York

by Thomson Reuters Foundation | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 4 November 2013 18:57 GMT

Over 100 high-level representatives from the global TrustLaw community gathered in New York on November 5 to celebrate the success of the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s fast-growing network of lawyers, social enterprises and high-impact NGOs.

The occasion, the third annual TrustLaw Connect Awards, brought together professionals from Turkey, China, South Africa, Cambodia, Mexico, the Philippines and many other countries, who flew to New York to attend the ceremony hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO and TrustLaw Founder Monique Villa. The TrustLaw Awards honour teams of lawyers working with NGOs or social enterprises through TrustLaw Connect, the Foundation’s global pro bono service.

“We chose New York to recognize the fantastic impact of the law firms based in the US which have been so active to help our social enterprises and NGOs through TrustLaw. The top law firms in the US are members of TrustLaw Connect, and since its creation three years ago, the network has generated $35 million worth of free legal assistance to our beneficiaries,” said Monique Villa.

Launched in 2010, TrustLaw Connect has grown to include some 1,500 members in 145 countries, including 320 of the best law firms around the world. The network operates in 145 countries, many that have never practiced pro bono before, such as Palestine, Rwanda, Botswana, or Malaysia, to name a few. To date, the free service has connected over 850 teams of lawyers with NGOs and social enterprises in need of legal assistance. This year, the TrustLaw team connected massive research projects spanning several countries on topics ranging from privacy in mobile health, child marriage, and criminal defamation.

Among those celebrating with the Foundation included Jim Smith, CEO of Thomson Reuters, David Binet, President and CEO of Woodbridge and Chairman of the Foundation, Hugh Verrier, Chairman of White & Case and member of the TrustLaw Advisory Board, John Conroy, Head of Global Strategic Initiatives at Baker & McKenzie, Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman UK and a member of the TrustLaw advisory board, Nancy Northup, President of Center for Reproductive Rights, Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Zhou Xialin, Partner of Jun He Law Offices, Carole Corcoran, General Counsel and Director of Special Projects at International Crisis Group, and many others.

Monique Villa also announced the launch of the “TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono,” a first of its kind annual assessment of global trends in pro bono worldwide. In line with the mission of TrustLaw Connect, the index will contribute to best practices in firms outside of traditional pro bono marketplaces.

The full list of this year’s winners:

The Impact Award went to White & Case and Grasty Quintana Majlis & Cia for working with Visayan Forum in the Philippines to research policies and legislation related to the protection of domestic workers. Visayan Forum used the research to negotiate for landmark legislation, the Magna Carta for Domestic Workers, which was passed in February 2013. It has provided protection and welfare to around two million domestic workers in the Philippines.

The Innovation Award went to Barrera, Siqueiros y Torres Landa working with Arquetopia Foundation for Development in Mexico to create a template microloan agreement to help artists access finance in Mexico.

The Collaboration Award went to DLA Piper and CMS London working with Beijing Fanbao to support advocacy for anti-domestic violence legislation in China.

The Legal Team of the Year Award went to Latham & Watkins for international law firm, Merck for in-house legal team, and Routledge Modise in South Africa for domestic law firm.

A new Award this year, the Lawyer of the Year, honoured two Chinese lawyers, Dayin Zhang and Hainin Lin, from Jun He Law Firm in Beijing for their outstanding commitment to pro bono. NGO and social enterprise members were asked to nominate a lawyer or team of lawyers who demonstrated extraordinary commitment to a pro bono project.

Learn about the full impact of the winning projects – watch the videos showcasing the Award winners.

See photos from the night here.

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