In March, the European Pro Bono Alliance (EPBA) gathered for their second annual meeting, organized by PILnet. The EPBA is a collaborative network of European clearinghouses and pro bono initiatives with the goal of supporting and promoting the work of its members and strengthening, championing, and informing the European pro bono movement. In this year’s meeting, held online, the members worked together to identify common concerns and solutions in their work.
The members discussed the effect that the global pandemic is having on their organizations and the organizations they work with. Throughout the past year, these clearinghouses needed to think creatively on how they would further their mission through the use of new tools such as webinars, online meetings, and virtual events. The NGOs they serve faced their own operational struggles and their beneficiaries confronted additional obstacles due to the pandemic. EPBA members found legal assistance for organizations in need on matters such as bankruptcy, employment law and contract negotiations, all stemming from the effects of the pandemic.
Struggles like this emphasize why cooperation between clearinghouses in Europe is so important. Members discussed the steps they will take this year to find synergy in their work and to collaborate on more projects. They also spoke about the efficiency that can be obtained through technology by giving staff to spend more time with their stakeholders.
The EPBA will continue to meet informally throughout the year, will be more involved in the planning of European Pro Bono Week, and plan to meet next spring to take stock and further develop their collaborations.