PILnet’s clearinghouses work with civil society organizations and social enterprises to identify their legal needs and connect them with pro bono lawyers in PILnet’s global legal network who have the relevant skills and expertise to help. PILnet helps organizations pinpoint their legal needs, matches these needs with qualified pro bono lawyers, and works with both sides to create a strategic partnership for sustained impact. The free legal assistance provided by pro bono lawyers is not limited by jurisdiction or region, as PILnet’s clearinghouses can engage lawyers from all over the world.
In 2019, PILnet helped 141 organizations by brokering relationships with 92 law firms in 48 jurisdictions around the world
Every organization has governance and administrative needs that require the assistance of a lawyer. From providing help with registering as a charity or nonprofit, to giving advice on compliance with employment or tax laws, to drafting contracts to legalize relationships with partner organizations, to providing assistance to individual clients of an organization, pro bono lawyers can help sustain the work of a civil society organization. Organizations may also need legal advice to directly support their activities and programs. Pro bono lawyers can provide useful advise on the drafting of legislation, the legality of policies, or the risks of defamation litigation. They can also volunteer their legal advocacy skills by representing civil society organizations and their clients in strategic litigation.
Pro bono lawyers can provide research on local, national, regional, or international laws, legal cases, or best practices. This type of assistance can range from country-specific research, such as on the protection of children, to multinational comparative research, such as on the implementation of an E.U. directive.
Analysis & Drafting
Ever-changing laws and legal processes can be hard to keep up with and are often difficult to understand. Pro bono lawyers can provide analyses of legislation, translate complex laws into accessible briefings, and explain their practical implications for the work of a civil society organization. Lawyers can also review proposals for new laws or legislative amendments being drafted by organizations.
Corporate lawyers have unique skills and knowledge that can be shared with organizations through bespoke training sessions on a particular area of law, including of an administrative nature, or on available legal mechanisms. These could range from examples such as trainings on organizational compliance with GDPR to bringing a case before the European Court of Justice, for example.
In 2019, PILnet’s Eurasia Clearinghouse obtained crucial legal research assistance for the Kazakhstan civil society organization Psychoanalytical Association, which serves people with cognitive disabilities. PILnet obtained expert legal assistance through its clearinghouse to support the Association to bring legal challenges to defend the rights of persons with cognitive disabilities in Kazakhstan. PILnet drew on its extensive network to locate law firms across three continents with the expertise to provide legal analysis on a number of questions relating to the treatment of persons with cognitive disabilities and the rules on legal capacity in other jurisdictions including Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Finland to further the organization’s mission.