In this excerpt from the 2017 Firm Annual, we share a sampling of our most impactful pro bono matters on a wide range of issues across each of the regions where we work. Our companion piece, the 2017 Global Citizenship Review, features an in-depth look at our work responding to the effects of natural and man-made disasters as well as our ongoing efforts to address issues in the U.S. justice system.
Rule of law research
Global project on criminalization of atrocity crimes
In a global project aimed at assessing the criminalization of atrocity crimes and states’ compliance with international law obligations for the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, 98 of our lawyers and legal staff across 23 offices researched atrocity crimes—war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity—in 70 countries.
Partnering with Microsoft to support refugees
Our lawyers in Stockholm partnered with lawyers from Microsoft in Sweden to create a pro bono referral website offering legal advice on employment, education and small business start-ups to refugees granted residence in Sweden. Entrepreneurs seeking assistance are assigned a lawyer from White & Case or Microsoft who will offer up to ten hours of pro bono legal advice.
Spotlight on Mexico City
A victory before Mexico’s Federal Court
For Aprendamos Primero, an education NGO, we successfully challenged the suspension of teachers’ evaluations across Mexico, securing an injunction. Subsequently, Mexico’s Federal Court ordered the Ministry of Education to proceed with the evaluations.
Securing benefits for retirees
In partnership with Fundación Appleseed México, we provided research and advice to support the provision of social security benefits to Mexican immigrants returning to Mexico from the United States to retire.
Financial literacy and education smartphone app
Our lawyers in Mexico City represented pro bono client Grupo Aliada in a MXN 20 million round of investment in a smartphone app that provides financial services and education to people providing residential and business cleaning services.
Support to earthquake victims
On a project initiated by partners in our Mexico City office, our lawyers put together guidelines for those impacted by the September 2017 earthquakes in Chiapas and Puebla. The document outlines legal steps for recovery for those affected and provides information about social and legal assistance programs.
Capacity building for civil society/social enterprises
NGO training in Hong Kong and Milan
Our lawyers in Hong Kong and Milan provided corporate law training for social enterprises and NGOs in partnership with two global pro bono clearinghouses, PILnet and TrustLaw. Our Hong Kong office co-hosted a workshop with PILnet that focused on legal and governance issues faced by social enterprises in the region, and presented model articles of association for social enterprises. Our Milan office joined TrustLaw to host a workshop that provided corporate law training to local nonprofits and NGOs.
Social impact investing
Japan’s first social impact bond
We represented Japan Social Impact Investment Foundation (SIIF) with the structuring and documentation for Japan’s first social impact bond, which is to fund a program to increase the use of a colorectal cancer screening test. We also represented SIIF in establishing a social impact bond to fund a Kobe city program on chronic kidney disease prevention.
Human rights litigation
Representing Flint’s children
With the ACLU of Michigan and Education Law Center, we filed a class action complaint on behalf of the children of Flint, Michigan, who suffered from lead exposure during the city’s water crisis. Our complaint alleges these children have been denied the special education services that are their right under US federal law.
A victory for homeless New Yorkers
We partnered with The Legal Aid Society to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of all disabled homeless people in New York City, who were being systemically denied appropriate housing. Our lawsuit led to a landmark settlement that will ensure all homeless shelters are brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act within five years.
EU residency rights for same-sex couples
Our lawyers in Brussels, Dubai, London, Mexico City, Milan and Washington, DC, advised Romanian non-governmental organization ACCEPT on a landmark litigation before the Grand Chamber of the EU Court of Justice on the recognition of same-sex marriage in EU free movement law
Legal support for personal insolvency
We advised the Slovak Ministry of Justice’s working group on personal insolvency and helped draft revisions to personal insolvency legislation that make solutions to personal insolvency more user-friendly and protect debtors’ housing. These legislative changes will affect more than 100,000 households.