Building a Civil Society

12 January 2011

Civil society is often referred to as the “third sector” because it serves to give voice to those outside of the governmental and for-profit sectors. PILnet works to amplify this voice and strengthen the ability of civil society to influence laws and policies.

PILnet is fortifying NGOs in selected countries around the world by providing transformative experiences to the next generation of public interest leaders through its International Fellows Program. On the ground, in countries such as China and Nepal, PILnet is providing know-how and facilitating the exchange of best practices in order to strengthen nascent public interest programs and organizations.

In addition, PILnet is building the infrastructure to enable the leveraging of considerable resources from the private sector to assist NGOs around the world and their beneficiaries. That infrastructure includes PILnet’s pro bono clearinghouses in Hungary, Russia and China, a cross-border Global Pro Bono Clearinghouse and a growing network of partnerships with clearinghouses in other countries. PILnet’s annual European Pro Bono Forum, as well as technical support and guidance it provides to partner clearinghouses, have cemented PILnet’s role as an international leader in the development of pro bono legal practice.


  • 24 February 2017

    Call for Fellowship Applications

    PILnet is excited to announce the launch of its redesigned Residential Fellowship Program that will begin in summer 2017. PILnet invites recent law graduates and those currently completing relevant degrees in public interest law to apply for this new fellowship, which offers a unique experience to re-envision the way that effective public interest lawyering can be done in our globalized world. This fellowship will provide an experiential learning opportunity in a new area of public interest lawyering that takes the techniques that have historically been used to benefit a powerful few and puts them to work for the poor and disenfranchised. Fellows at PILnet will acquire the skills to adopt the private sector’s transactional lawyering tools (those day-to-day activities—such as negotiating, drafting contracts, and helping to structure transactions), and focus on innovative ways of putting them to work for the public interest. For more information on the Fellowship and how to apply, click here.Read more

  • 14 December 2016

    Court Upholds Asset Freeze of PILnet Fellow Azza Soliman

    The court proceeding in the case against Azza Soliman, originally scheduled for Monday, December 12, was adjourned until today, December 14. During the hearing, the court upheld the asset freeze that was imposed on Ms. Soliman on November 20, in absentia and without her prior knowledge. The judge did not allow the defense to present their arguments, preventing Ms. Soliman’s lawyers from challenging the charges brought against her. This is a violation of Egypt’s constitutional and international law obligations to provide due process before punishment. Furthermore, Ms. Soliman is prohibited from appealing the verdict until three months after the date it was issued. As a result, Ms. Soliman will not be able to access her personal or professional bank accounts for at least three months. Nor is she allowed to leave the country, due to a continuing travel ban. PILnet supports the right of Ms. Soliman and other human rights defenders to represent the public interest and condemns  Egypt’s crackdown on civil society.” For the full story, click here>> For further information, please contact Maysa Zorob, PILnet's Senior Legal Officer for the Middle East and North Africa at Read more

  • 09 December 2016

    PILnet Stands with its Fellow, Human Rights Lawyer Azza Soliman

    On December 7, 2016, Azza Soliman, prominent human rights lawyer, PILnet Fellow, and founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women's Legal Aid (CEWLA), was arrested at her home in Cairo. Shortly thereafter she was brought before a judge and charged with (1) receiving foreign funding to harm state interest, (2) establishing an entity that conducts NGO-like activities, and (3) tax evasion. Later that day, Ms. Soliman was released on bail and her court date was set for 12 December. Read more

  • 21 November 2016

    2016 European Pro Bono Awards

    On November 17, PILnet announced the recipients of this year’s European Pro Bono Awards in a ceremony held as part of the 10th Annual European Pro Bono Forum. Reed Smith received the Exemplary Partnership in the Public Interest Award for its work with Greek NGO METAdrasi, the Romanian NGO ACTEDO received the Award for Local Pro Bono Impact, and Intigam Aliyev received the newly established European Publico Award. Read more

  • 10 November 2016

    2016 Pro Bono Awards: Fighting Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE)

    White & Case and ECPAT International (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) have been shortlisted for PILnet’s 2016 European Award for Exemplary Partnership in the Public Interest. Together, this law firm and NGO conducted the first comprehensive global study of substantive and procedural law related to online child sexual exploitation. New technologies—from cloud computing to the dark web—have made online child sexual exploitation (OCSE) more pervasive than ever. Read more