2022 Global Citizenship Review

What's inside

Highlights from our Global Pro Bono Practice and Global Citizenship initiative

A message from our Chair

In a year of geopolitical turmoil, environmental disasters and threats to human rights, we leveraged the full spectrum of our capabilities to help address the challenges of our time.

The Firm and our people supported those affected by the war in Ukraine in multiple ways—giving financial support to charities working on the ground, organizing donation drives for emergency relief provisions, providing pro bono advice to refugees and even opening their homes to those escaping the conflict. Elsewhere, we helped refugees from Afghanistan evacuate and resettle in safer countries.

In the wake of natural disasters such as the catastrophic floods in Australia, our lawyers helped families rebuild their homes and lives. We also helped tackle long-term issues, through research on carbon rights and climate change.

In the United States, our lawyers fought for the human rights of prisoners and women: challenging the use of long-term solitary confinement and helping to develop a unique database tracking rapidly changing reproductive healthcare laws in all 50 US states.

A long-term pillar of our pro bono work has been educating and empowering the next generation of legal leaders around the world. We celebrated important milestones in two projects we support: the inaugural graduating class of Bhutan’s first and only law school and the fifth anniversary of the African Centre on Law & Ethics.

This review tells these stories and more about the ways our people donated their time, knowledge and expertise to make a positive impact on their communities and the world in 2022.

Hugh Verrier, Chair

Emergency response

We mobilized to help those escaping crises

Call to action

Responding to those affected by the war in Ukraine

Ukraine response
Brendan Hoffman © Bespoke Reps

In the wake of the storm

Rebuilding houses and lives following the Australia floods

Australia floods
Brendan McCarthy © AAP

Safe passage

Helping refugees fleeing from Afghanistan

gc afghan refugees
American Photo Archive © Alamy Stock Photo

ESG & pro bono

While two distinct areas, ESG and pro bono can overlap and even complement each other

Navigating the difference between ESG and pro bono

A conversation with Jacquelyn MacLennan, EU competition and trade law partner, Global Pro Bono Practice Leader (2015 – 2022) and Business & Human Rights Interest Group member

Navigating the difference between ESG and pro bono
© James Cannon Photography

Access to justice

Highlights include a historic civil rights settlement and work to end solitary confinement

Isolated for life

Protecting prisoners from the harms of long-term solitary confinement

Justice solitary
Michael M. Santiago © Getty Images

Journey to justice

Fighting to obtain just compensation for our client who was wrongfully convicted of murder

Justice Shawn Williams
Holly Pickett © The New York Times/Redux

Advancing human rights

Our work focused on the rights of women and children

A holistic approach

Improving access to justice for children

A holistic approach juvenile defense
Gustavo Oliveira © WBR Photo

The problem with pardons

Providing access to executive clemency for women and other vulnerable groups

Rights vance center pardons
Kansas City Star © Getty Images

Reproductive freedoms

Building on our long history of reproductive rights pro bono work

Rights roe v wade
Ian Waldie © Getty Images

Environmental action

We used our skills to help protect our environment and support climate action

Carbon rights

Identifying legal frameworks for developing countries to address climate change

Carbon rights
Michael Melford © Bespoke

Call of the wild

Free speech victory benefits endangered gray wolves

Call of the wild gray wolves
Stan Tekiela © Getty Images

A sustainable bond

Facilitating green and blue bonds in Africa

Environment ECON Africa Green bonds
Justin Jin © Bespoke

Educating future leaders

Two of our legal education programs come full circle in Bhutan and Ghana

First class

Marking a milestone for Bhutan’s first law school

© JSW Law

An ethical foundation

Supporting the African Centre on Law & Ethics as it trains law students and practitioners from across the continent

Africa legal ethics
David Malan © Getty Images

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

122,152pro bono hours in 2022

100k+ pro bono hours for the sixth consecutive year
100% of our offices and practices do pro bono work

160+ partners and counsel serve as pro bono leaders
900+ pro bono matters in 2022


Pro bono secondments

Deepening client relationships and boosting associates' skills

Pro bono secondments
© European Lawyers in Lesvos

Office highlights

Pro bono matters from each of our offices

Pro bono office highlights
Gabriel Mello © Getty Images

Learn more

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


Visuals by Roman De Giuli

Carbon rights

Carbon rights

Identifying legal frameworks for developing countries to address climate change


4 min read

The first step toward accessing financing in relation to carbon rights, especially in developing countries, is a strong legal framework. We worked on behalf of our pro bono client, United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme), on the mammoth task of reviewing legislation on carbon rights, forest preservation and climate change in 27 countries.

It can be very difficult for developing countries to meet their UNFCCC climate change commitments. So providing support and frameworks that will help, including ways to attract international funding, is an important part of enhancing national and global climate ambition and results

Francesca Felicani-Robles
Forestry Officer, REDD+ legal matters, Forestry Division FAO Headquarters

Eighty-eight White & Case lawyers and legal staff in 21 offices worked together to identify the legal frameworks these developing countries need in order to strengthen their legislation. Ultimately, this will enable them to access public funding and achieve investor confidence in financing projects to prevent deforestation and to reforest degraded forest areas.

Our lawyers prepared legal reports analyzing the challenges and opportunities related to the definition and transfer of carbon rights in the context of REDD+, which is the framework created by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) to guide activities in the forest sector. REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the + signifies the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

The UN-REDD Programme is a collaborative program between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the UN Development Programme and the UN Environment Programme. Our lawyers' reports are being used in a comparative study on carbon rights across Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The UN-REDD Programme's goal is to mitigate climate change by strengthening the role of forests and vulnerable groups in reducing emissions.

"It can be very difficult for developing countries to meet their UNFCCC climate change commitments. So providing support and frameworks that will help, including ways to attract international funding, is an important part of enhancing national and global climate ambition and results," says Francesca Felicani-Robles, Forestry Officer, REDD+ legal matters in the FAO's Forestry Division. 

The UN-REDD Programme's comparative study highlights the need for clarity on who owns emission reductions, including who is entitled to benefit from REDD+ initiatives, whether through direct payments or other benefits. As the research shows, this is often unclear in the identified countries. Legislation is an important first step, alongside the development of formal arrangements between all stakeholders to ensure the appropriate beneficiaries of any carbon credit payments can be identified.

New York partner Seth Kerschner, whose commercial work involves forest sector activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, took the lead on this project. He highlights the long-term importance of this project to facilitate investment in sustainable forest management: "Many jurisdictions may not have the fulsome type of legal regime that is needed to create property rights around carbon in tropical forests. This is necessary for investors to feel confident in funding these projects. The guidance provided to the UN-REDD team to support these jurisdictions and develop these regimes will ensure these projects can occur more easily in the future."


Other environmental highlights

Bolstering water and sanitation rights globally
For longstanding pro bono client Human Right 2 Water (HR2W), 110+ lawyers and legal staff from 25 offices analyzed the linkage between the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and the human right to a healthy environment in 16 countries. Our research will support HR2W’s mission to strengthen these rights globally and to ensure Sustainable Development Goal 6—access to water and sanitation for all—can be more readily achieved.

Support for sustainable fishing
Lawyers in our London office represented SafetyNet Technologies, a social enterprise working to reduce overfishing by creating technology that supports sustainable fishing practices. We helped SafetyNet Technologies navigate a new funding round through the allotment and issuance of equity to existing investors. We also helped the company negotiate key provisions of the investment agreement and funding terms.

Recognition for our work supporting improved access to affordable air purifiers in Asia
Our Beijing lawyers received TrustLaw’s Powered by Pro Bono Award in 2022 for general corporate and contractual advice to social enterprise Smart Air Impact, which sells accessible and affordable air purifiers to help protect people from air pollution. Read more about the Award here.

Photo by Michael Melford © Bespoke
Forest at sunrise in a national park.