2023 Global Citizenship Review

What's inside

Highlights of our pro bono and volunteering efforts

A message from our Chair

White & Case’s Global Citizenship initiative is a cornerstone of our Firm, and our 2023 pro bono and charitable work was driven by both passion and purpose. This review tells these stories and demonstrates what we can accomplish by focusing our knowledge and resources on the challenges of our time.

In the United States, our Racial Justice Task Force worked to seal decades-old criminal records for pro bono clients, enabling them to pursue better employment, housing and educational opportunities. Relying on a law that addresses sentencing disparities that disproportionately affect Black people, we secured freedom for individuals who had served lengthy sentences imposed when they were under the age of 25 years. Our externship program with Historically Black Colleges and Universities enabled students to work with us on racial justice pro bono matters.

Across conflict-torn regions, our lawyers advocated for asylum-seekers and other forced migrants. As the war in Ukraine continued, we helped eligible refugees obtain UK visas and began researching critical issues that included how Ukraine will finance its eventual reconstruction.

We also secured critical rights for girls. In the US, we helped end child marriage in three states and collaborated on draft legislation to change the federal laws that enable it. In Kenya, we structured a Development Impact Bond that funds sexual and reproductive health care for teenaged girls.

On the environmental front, our lawyers analyzed the constitutions of every country in the world to help ensure access to clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right. Our work also included designing a debt-for-nature swap in Southeast Asia, which will preserve hundreds of square miles of coral reefs.

We retained our focus on educating and empowering the next generation of legal leaders. Key initiatives included training Kenyan lawyers on developments in arbitration law and expanding our support of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot for law students in Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

Our efforts had tangible benefits for people around the world, and I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together. Our work continues and evolves, grounded in the belief that the law can be a force for positive transformation on a global scale.

Heather K. McDevitt, Chair

Our inaugural Global Citizenship campaign

The Firm's first Global Citizenship campaign focuses Firmwide efforts to amplify impact

Elevate: investing in the next generation

Our new Global Citizenship campaign concentrates the Firm's volunteering and charitable giving efforts on investing in youth through education, empowerment and employability

A silhouetted view of five children playing outside a hot air balloon decorated in squares of red, yellow, orange, blue and black.
© leelaryonkul / Adobestock

Access to justice

Highlights include the expansion of our Racial Justice Task Force and our efforts on behalf of asylum-seekers and refugees

A force for good

Multipronged effort helps individuals disproportionately affected by our criminal justice system and addresses racial injustice

A group of five multi-generational family members, three male, two female, embrace in a backyard with their backs to the camera.
© Ryan J. Lane / GettyImages

Advancing human rights

Our work focused on protecting women's rights and providing humanitarian assistance and legal aid for Ukraine

Pro bono in wartime

Firm provides humanitarian and legal aid to Ukraine

A female volunteer, right, and Ukrainian refugee woman, left, sit on steps in a train station, both looking at a document the volunteer is holding and explaining.
© Halfpoint Images / GettyImages

An impactful bond

Structuring a Development Impact Bond that enhances reproductive health services for girls in Kenya

A community nurse, left, shares information on a clipboard with three teenage girls, right. The group stands by a wooden fence in front of a shack in an informal settlement in Africa.
© Wilpunt / GettyImages

Ending child marriage in the United States

Momentum continues to build as we helped change laws in three more states, bringing the total to ten states

Two teenage girls facing each other raise their fists against a late-afternoon blue sky. One girl, left, looks up, while the other, right, looks into the distance. The wind blows their hair.
© Hello World / GettyImages

Environmental action

We used our legal skills to safeguard the human right to water and draft an innovative debt-for-nature swap

Swapping debt for nature

The Firm's latest debt-for-nature swap was among the first to tap into a newly reauthorized US law

Image from a camera half-submerged in the tropical waters of Lissenung Island, Papua New Guinea. Under water, dense and varied green coral is visible. Above water, an island and a person paddling a traditional outrigger canoe are silhouetted against a vibrant orange sunset.
© Grant Thomas

Clean water, effective sanitation

Our legal research for Human Right 2 Water helps push essential needs toward becoming legally protected human rights

Two pairs of hands, one left, one right, wash leafy greens in a red bucket, under a stream of water from a water gravity system in a village in northern Sierra Leone. The water is drawn from a local mountain.
© Karen Kasmauski / GettyImages

Educating future leaders

Building legal capacity by training practitioners and future lawyers in developing countries

Training the next generation of international lawyers

The Firm expanded its Vis Moot training to students in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

A nighttime view of the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) in Vienna, Austria. The Neo-Renaissance building is warmly lit, inside and out. Light from traffic appears as red and white streaks in the left foreground.
© MadrugadaVerde / GettyImages

Trailblazing jurist Florence Mumba receives White & Case Distinguished Jessup Alumni Award

The competition opens doors and shapes careers for many law students around the world

A distant view of the Supreme Court of Zambia, in the country's capital of Lusaka. The red-brick, two-story building features white columns along the main facade and a pair of white lion sculptures enclosing the wide entrance steps. A large palm tree stands to the left, and three flagpoles to the right.
© Mtcurado / GettyImages

Dispute alternatives

Training programs help Nairobi's push to become a preferred venue for dispute resolution

Lawyers in traditional black gowns and light-colored wigs walk up a winding concrete ramp as they arrive at the Supreme Court of Kenya, in Nairobi, to be admitted to the Bar in November 2023. Some are also wearing sunglasses.
© Simon Maina / GettyImages

About pro bono

A truly global Pro Bono practice

Our work focuses on providing access to justice, serving organizations with a social or environmental mission and promoting the rule of law and good sovereign governance

Pro bono hours and participation

105,550pro bono hours in 2023

100k+ pro bono hours for the seventh consecutive year

100% of our offices and practices do pro bono work


125+ partners and counsel serve as pro bono leaders

800+ pro bono matters in 2023


A model partnership

Amazon and White & Case raise the bar on pro bono collaborations with four projects in 2023 

A view of the portico of the New York County Supreme Court, in lower Manhattan in New York City. Above its columns, the portico is engraved with the motto, "The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government." Sun shines on the top left corner.
© Andrey Denisyuk / GettyImages

Reconciling differences

White & Case teams up with Jawun to support Australia's Indigenous communities

A close-up view of 28 colorfully decorated flags that form the art installation "United Neytions," which hangs in Sydney Airport. Each flag represents one of the original Aboriginal nations and is decorated in varying combinations of stripes, dots, spirals, diamonds and stars, in a color palette of orange, green, black, red, yellow and white. The work is by artist Archie Moore, a member of Australia's Kamilaroi Indigenous nation.
© Moksh Bhatia / Shutterstock

Learn more

For more information about our commitment and activities, please visit our Global Citizenship web pages.


Photo by © Sinology / GettyImages
Sunset in a city park in China.

A group of five multi-generational family members, three male, two female, embrace in a backyard with their backs to the camera.

A force for good

Multipronged effort helps individuals disproportionately affected by our criminal justice system and addresses racial injustice


7 min read

White & Case's Racial Justice Task Force was launched in 2020 to answer one question: How can Firm lawyers, angered and energized by the murder of George Floyd, make concrete contributions toward racial justice?

In the following years, the answer to that question has evolved into numerous areas of sustained focus and impact—through criminal justice reform, education and economic empowerment—bringing together Firm lawyers and business services professionals across offices and practices. While racial justice is a multifaceted topic that involves longstanding issues of equity, systemic racism and the need to redress historical wrongs, the Task Force's contributions spotlight the legal profession's unique role in driving real and lasting change.

The Task Force has more than 160 members from every US office, plus Milan, London and Brussels. Since 2020, it has completed more than 50 matters with approximately 30 more ongoing.

Working toward a fairer criminal justice system

One priority is to represent individuals affected by racial injustice in the US criminal justice system.

According to the Sentencing Project, the District of Columbia has one of the highest incarceration rates in the US, and its prison population is disproportionately Black. These disparities stem from factors that include the "war on drugs" during the 1970s, '80s and '90s, and the "tough on crime" rhetoric and legislation of the '90s and 2000s that dramatically increased the nation's prison populations, and exacerbated racial bias in policing and criminal prosecutions. Courts sentenced hundreds of Washington, DC juveniles and young people under the age of 25 years to decades in prison, including life sentences.

A second look

The Task Force partnered with the Second Look Project to help address this disparity, representing nine incarcerated individuals seeking freedom through a 2021 Washington, DC law that allows individuals who were under the age of 25 years when they were convicted to move the court that sentenced them for a sentence reduction. The law takes into account the latest scientific evidence on brain development in young people and provides a path to freedom for those who are not a danger to the community and who can demonstrate that their release is in the interest of justice.

In 2023, White & Case lawyers helped five clients in Washington, DC obtain their freedom after they spent more than half of their lives in prison:

  • A client sentenced to 66-years-to-life in prison at age 20 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and other charges spent nearly 22 years in prison, where he earned a GED diploma. Today, he works in an art gallery and creates programming for at-risk youth in his community
  • A client sentenced to approximately 60-years-to-life in prison at age 19 after he was convicted of numerous felonies, including second-degree murder, served more than 29 years of his sentence and was head chef at several prisons. Today, he works as a chef at a Washington, DC-area restaurant and spends time with his children and grandchildren
  • A client sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at age 18 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and associated offenses spent nearly 24 years in prison, where he earned a GED diploma, served as a mentor and co-chaired the prison's Conflict Resolutions Committee. In this matter, the Firm collaborated with a longtime commercial client on every aspect of the representation
  • A client sentenced to 30-years-to-life in prison at age 22 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and other charges spent nearly 30 years in prison, where he earned his GED diploma. Today, he works as a delivery driver for an electrical supplies company and is saving to start his own business
  • A client found guilty of murder and other charges served more than 26 years on a 30-years-to-life sentence in prison. During his incarceration, he completed multiple work, educational and artistic programs, and earned his GED diploma. Today, he works for his nephew's security firm

In total, more than 40 Firm lawyers in five offices have worked on these cases and four others that are pending. 
New York associate and Task Force co-chair Gina Chiappetta expanded this work to Maryland, where we now represent three clients.

Case closed

As part of The Legal Aid Society's Case Closed Project, White & Case lawyers teamed up with lawyers from three commercial clients to represent individuals seeking to seal decades-old criminal records. In one case, we partnered with a commercial client to seal a criminal record for a client in her 30s, who was convicted of third-degree burglary when she was 19 years of age. Having a clean record will enable her to pursue more senior-level roles at the community center where she has worked for several years.

This case marked the fifth client the Firm helped with the Case Closed Project to seal an old criminal record under New York law. At the time of publication, we had secured a total of 12 sealing victories. Recognizing that a criminal record can significantly hurt a person's ability to secure better employment, better housing, educational and government benefits, and several other benefits we take for granted, these cases take advantage of a state law that enables individuals with lower-level criminal records that are more than ten years old to apply to have their records sealed. Led by Miami associate Shravya Govindgari and New York associate Sylvia Precht, more than 75 Firm lawyers have contributed to these cases since 2021.

Boosting opportunities for HBCU law students

In 2021, the Firm launched an externship program in partnership with Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC. Externs work on pro bono matters exclusively. In 2022, the Task Force added another Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to its externship program: Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, LA. Since its inception, the program has identified ten law students to work side by side with Firm lawyers on Task Force objectives.

"The Task Force is nonhierarchical," says Dana Foster, a partner in the Firm's Washington, DC office who has co-chaired the Task Force since it began. For example, Foster noted that our Second Look Project work came to us through a law school classmate of Washington, DC associate Ashley Stoner, who also manages the program, and one of our Southern University Law Center externs introduced us to the ACLU of Louisiana's Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial, which enlists law firms outside of Louisiana to bring civil rights actions against police officers and departments within the state. "As a result, we are now representing an individual whose father was gunned down by police officers in her federal civil rights suit," says Foster. "Our extern—a 2L law student—helped make that happen."

"Many of the students have a long-term focus on a public service career, and the program helps broaden their network and gain exposure to career paths beyond the public sector," says New York associate Gina Chiappetta, who leads the externship program.

Each student extern is paired with a mentor who provides ongoing coaching and gathers feedback from colleagues to give students a comprehensive perspective on strengths and growth opportunities.

"The combined efforts of the Task Force," says Chiappetta, "send an enduring message to all lawyers: Addressing decades of racial injustice does not have to begin or end with one lawyer, one case or one externship."


Expanding our pro bono footprint in Hong Kong and across Asia
In July 2023, we started working with Justice Centre Hong Kong (JCHK), a nonprofit organization that helps refugees, asylum-seekers and other forced migrants access social welfare, psychological support and legal protection under Hong Kong law. The collaboration includes volunteers from our Hong Kong and Singapore offices and was launched with training on Hong Kong's non-refoulement law. Volunteers have conducted research to assist a Somali client under threat of removal or deportation apply for protected status and to help JCHK develop a dedicated advisory practice for child asylum-seekers. The relationship, which also includes several other multi-office projects, reflects the Firm's growing commitment to pro bono initiatives in the region.

White & Case obtains asylum for Iranian artist
White & Case lawyers in Europe obtained asylum for an Iranian artist who suffered torture and more than two years of incarceration for an artwork championing women's rights that was banned by the Iranian government. This case was referred to the Firm from a human rights nongovernmental organization after our client fled the country. We filed a detailed application for asylum, supported by voluminous evidence, and prepared him for his interview. In April 2023, our client was granted asylum under the Geneva Convention, allowing him to remain in his country of residence for the next ten years.

Photo by © Ryan J. Lane / GettyImages
A multi-generational group of family members embrace in a backyard.