The Firm initiated collaboration with The Kingdom of Bhutan in 2008, helping to create its first law library, followed by its first law school, the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law (JSW Law), which opened its doors in 2017. The permanent campus of JSW Law School, pictured above, is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2022.
In the latest phase of this effort, our lawyers provided legal workshops for Bhutanese law students, lawyers and judges. The most recent training took place in February 2020, just before Bhutan locked down due to COVID-19, when White & Case Silicon Valley Intellectual Property partner, Bijal Vakil, joined Square's Deputy General Counsel, Head of Intellectual Property & Legal Operations, Kirupa Pushparaj of Square to host a workshop on intellectual property.
Private lawyers, government regulators and planners, and representatives from civil society and start-ups joined Bijal and Kirupa to learn about the challenges of converting from a traditional Indian-based IP model to an IP model for the digital world to substantively transform the lives of the Bhutanese.
Vice Dean Michael Peil of Bhutan's JSW Law says: "It was an amazing opportunity to get every player in the IP sphere in Bhutan together in one room for the first time."
"These are legal issues that Bhutan will be facing in the near future, so the insight was invaluable, as was the chance to discuss the topic, collaborate and role play."
Bijal says: "We were doing something that hadn't been done before – Bhutanese officials and innovators meeting with experienced IP lawyers providing an outside counsel and client/business perspective from Silicon Valley highlighting US and global perspectives."
"I'm pleased to have the opportunity to share in this project that aligns with Square's ethos of economic empowerment through a robust intellectual property system that provides opportunities for the Bhutanese," says Kirupa.
Other White & Case lawyers who have led workshops in Bhutan include Michelle Keen and Kirsty Campbell, who taught government lawyers about environmental litigation; Matthew Secomb and Aditya Singh, whose workshop covered legislative drafting; Simon Collins and Mark Goodrich, who focused on contract negotiation and drafting; and Melody Chan and Adam Wallin, who covered commercial litigation.
"It was especially gratifying to share this experience with a leader in IP such as Kirupa," says Bijal. "Square shares White & Case's commitment to give back to the community."
Identifying pro bono opportunities for client collaborations is an important part of the Firm's global pro bono practice. From providing legal advice at immigration clinics to helping veterans obtain combat-related benefits to researching women entrepreneurs' access to capital, we work to match projects with client interest and areas of greatest need.
"Our clients have expertise to share so this adds value to our pro bono work. And, as a global law firm, we are uniquely positioned to offer pro bono opportunities that our clients might not otherwise have access to," says Bijal.
"From a personal perspective, the visit was fascinating and rewarding and, once the pandemic is over, I'd love to return with Kirupa, and possibly other IP clients, to talk further with members of the patent office and others."