"American Lawyer" Delves into Global Pro Bono

Coverage features PILnet's Ed Rekosh and PILnet partners

29 June 2012
The coming of age of global pro bono is analyzed in a lengthy article in the July 2012 issue of The American Lawyer, which features extensive interviews with PILnet's executive director, Edwin Rekosh, and many of PILnet's closest pro bono partners.

"Over the past decade we've seen a blossoming of cross-border pro bono," Rekosh is quoted in the story's second paragraph. "But even more importantly, we've seen the pro bono idea take root in legal cultures outside the English-speaking world."

LordPimg 8318PILnet Pro Bono Council President Andrew PhillTitled "A World of Good," the story tracks the path of pro bono as it has moved beyond the U.S. and the U.K. into Europe, South America, Russia, China, and beyond. It includes quotes and examples from the work of PILnet board members Kim Reed and Suzie Turner, PILnet Pro Bono Council President Andrew Phillips, and many PILnet partners, including Microsoft, White & Case, Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper, i-probono, A4ID, Instituto Pro Bono, the Vance Center, TrustLaw, and others central to the arrival of pro bono as a global force for justice.

The story, by Michael D. Goldhaber, the magazine's senior international correspondent, is available to American Lawyer subscribers here. Limited excerpts are included below:


PILnet's first steps to kick-start pro bono in Europe:


"PILnet's Rekosh floated the idea of European pro bono almost as soon as he moved from New York to Budapest in 2002....It was too American, they [Hungarian bar leaders] told him, and would undermine the European tradition of strong public support for legal services. Three years later, the debate over legal services had subsided, and Rekosh had found a receptive audience among Hungary's major law firms, which were mostly affiliated with global firms like Clifford Chance. His group—also known as the "Global Network for Public Interest Law"—had found its beachhead."


Preparing the ground for pro bono:

"Above all, global pro bono is about connecting local lawyers to local needs around the world," says Rekosh. In Europe, groups like PILnet discovered that the ground had been prepared by the gospel of corporate responsibility. In Latin America, groups like the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice built on the traditions of Catholic charity and resistance to authoritarianism. Everywhere, they were aided by Anglo-American law firms and LL.M. graduates. "More often than not, when you find a lawyer receptive to pro bono, it turns out that they had some exposure to U.S. or U.K. legal culture," Rekosh says.

Innovative pro bono examples, both organized by PILnet:

"Microsoft and Verizon Communications Inc. recently teamed with DLA and White & Case to introduce legal ethics coursework in Russian law schools. Baker & McKenzie is working with Caterpillar Inc., Accenture plc, and Merck & Co. Inc. to stop the Nepalese 'cabin and dance' industry from exploiting teenage girls."

PILnet's European Pro Bono Forum:

"To help build a new mind-set in Europe, Rekosh launched an annual conference in 2007, which now rotates among regional capitals. The results have been dramatic. The Berlin retreat helped to prod clarification that German law, which requires lawyers to charge for their services, does not ban pro bono. And at the French summit, the head of the Paris bar announced that it would set up a pro bono fund."