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

Navigating the difference between ESG and pro bono

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


3 min read

Law firms have traditionally given back to society through pro bono work, which often includes matters that support the environment, a more equitable society and good corporate citizenship. It’s not surprising, therefore, that with the rise of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, these concepts sometimes overlap.

To learn more about the difference between ESG and pro bono, we spoke with Jacquelyn MacLennan.  An edited and condensed version of that conversation follows.

Q: Why is ESG important to our clients?
A: A focus on ESG criteria enables businesses and governments to allocate resources and invest responsibly, emphasizing sustainability, people and ethics—both in their own operations and their supply chains. Increased stakeholder pressure and regulatory requirements are placing ESG front and center for all businesses.

Q: What is our approach to ESG?
A: Our Responsible Business Working Group identifies and addresses ESG risks for the Firm. While we help our clients navigate ESG developments and requirements, we are also part of our clients’ supply chains. They request information from us so we need to have our own house in order. We are also signatories to the UN Global Compact, which requires us to report annually against human rights criteria. Our Environmental Sustainability Report shares our progress in reducing our environmental footprint.

Q: What is the relationship between ESG and pro bono?
A: We see these as two distinct areas but complementary and sometimes in lockstep with each other. Our pro bono work is much wider in scope than ESG but, of course, includes matters falling under the ESG framework. All our lawyers are encouraged to do pro bono work, and some are specialists in ESG areas. Members of our pro bono team are part of our ESG and Sustainability and Business & Human Rights groups, supporting institutional knowledge and information sharing. Certainly, the impact of our pro bono work can be viewed, along with reporting on our responsible business operations, as part of our commitment to high ESG standards in the global citizenship role we have as a Firm. But pro bono is not ESG, and vice versa.

Q: What trends do you see emerging for ESG and for pro bono?
A: ESG regulation and legislation are increasing at a very fast pace. This is going to standardize ESG and require it to be embedded into business practices. Business cannot ignore ESG—and as a result our ESG work is going to grow.

Our pro bono work is also going to grow. We face an economic downturn in which we can predict that funding legal services for individuals of limited means will not increase; racial injustice will continue; and the migrant crisis and the repercussions of climate change will spread. Our commitment to providing access to justice and serving organizations with an environmental and societal mission will continue. Our pro bono work will respond to these major issues with an increased focus on rapid response and greater levels of collaboration between law firms and between NGOs and local legal providers.

In my view, young lawyers will continue to choose to work for firms such as White & Case that are engaged in ESG work and committed to pro bono.

Photo by © James Cannon Photography
The “Cycling through the Trees” bicycle path in the forest of Bosland, Belgium.