Call to action
Responding to those affected by the war in Ukraine
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.
Responding to those affected by the war in Ukraine
Rebuilding houses and lives following the Australia floods
Helping refugees fleeing from Afghanistan
Protecting prisoners from the harms of long-term solitary confinement
Fighting to obtain just compensation for our client who was wrongfully convicted of murder
Improving access to justice for children
Providing access to executive clemency for women and other vulnerable groups
Building on our long history of reproductive rights pro bono work
Identifying legal frameworks for developing countries to address climate change
Free speech victory benefits endangered gray wolves
Facilitating green and blue bonds in Africa
Marking a milestone for Bhutan’s first law school
Supporting the African Centre on Law & Ethics as it trains law students and practitioners from across the continent
Deepening client relationships and boosting associates' skills
Pro bono matters from each of our offices
Every year millions of children enter criminal justice systems around the world. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes the need to consider rehabilitation over incarceration and other punitive methods. However, many children are detained, prosecuted and sentenced to prison—even for petty offenses—resulting in lasting negative impacts such as an increased risk of adult incarceration and mental health disorders, as well as a decreased likelihood of graduating from school and succeeding in the labor market.
Juvenile holistic representation, which takes a multidisciplinary, whole-life approach to children's legal issues that also includes life circumstances such as poverty, may mitigate these effects. Yet updating or creating legislation to reflect both global best practice and local norms of juvenile holistic representation can be stymied by a lack of available basic information. To address this challenge, White & Case is partnering with the International Legal Foundation (ILF) on a milestone piece of research, Measuring Justice: Principles/Standards for Quality Juvenile Defense. This ongoing work aims to build on the ILF's flagship publication Measuring Justice to analyze juvenile justice systems around the world and provide global guidance to define and measure how juvenile holistic representation can result in better cases and life outcomes for children in conflict with the law.
"Holistic representation is a people-centered approach to legal services that ensures the child's entire life picture and legal and non-legal needs are taken into account," says ILF Advocacy and Communications Director Leah Conklin. "For example, if a child was arrested for getting into a fight at school, what were the circumstances that led the child to this moment?" Factors to consider include possible abuse or neglect in the child's home, mental health issues or the potential that the school is engaging in discriminatory treatment of students based on race or other factors. It is also important to weigh the impact of the arrest on the child's life and to determine whether the matter may be appropriate for diversion from the criminal justice system.
"In such cases, the lawyer's role would not just be to get the child out of custody and avoid a criminal conviction, but to determine if the child has other needs, and ensure that any court involvement doesn't negatively impact their future," says Conklin. "But to strategically advocate that lawyers around the world should take this people-centered approach to legal representation, we need to be able to present foundational information about the fact that various countries' laws and policies would support it."
Having partnered with the ILF on many previous pro bono matters, Conklin has found the Firm's international presence to be a significant advantage. "To date, we've researched 21 countries across five continents," she says. "The fact that team members speak multiple languages and understand different cultures is a real asset."
For Abraham Paul, partner in our São Paulo office, the project resonates strongly with his interests. "I've been working with street children in Brazil since I was in high school. This research has the power to change things for the most vulnerable children at a really fundamental level. It will absolutely help shape the legal systems in the countries included in the study. There's a huge amount of personal satisfaction in using our professional skills to make such a meaningful contribution."
Legal research to end child marriage in the United States
Since 2016, 120+ lawyers and legal staff from ten offices have provided in-depth, state-by-state legal research to Unchained At Last, a nonprofit that works to end forced and child marriage in the US. Unchained has used our research to support its advocacy in its national movement to eliminate child marriage. In 2022 Unchained successfully ended child marriage in Massachusetts, making it the seventh state and counting.
A commitment to supporting global maternal health
For nearly 10 years, 30+ lawyers and legal staff from six offices have provided corporate, employment and general compliance pro bono advice to Operation Fistula, a global nonprofit working to end obstetric fistula in women, a childbirth injury caused by prolonged, obstructed labor.
Working to stop online sexual exploitation of children
We assisted End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) International and ECPAT France as they seek to raise awareness among judges and prosecutors about the crime of live streaming child sexual abuse. Twenty lawyers and legal staff in seven of our offices researched how this crime is prosecuted in six countries.
Photo by Gustavo Oliveira © WBR Photo
The Street Child United Brazil playground in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.