Fieldfisher, Shearman & Sterling, Orrick, and the Royal Mencap Society
The Right to Care program is a collaborative project between Mencap, an English organization supporting those with learning disabilities, and the law firms Fieldfisher, Shearman & Sterling, and Orrick. Volunteers from the firms represent vulnerable clients who have been denied state support. The project, which launched in May 2018 and remains ongoing, has achieved positive impact in two ways. The first, and most important, is enabling representation and support for vulnerable individuals across areas of law that are not covered by legal aid. In England, people with disabilities are entitled to financial assistance from the state in the form of disability benefits as well as support within the community through personal assistance, adaptations to the home, and housing. The disputes concern individuals being unlawfully denied either disability benefits or community support. By challenging these unlawful decisions, the volunteers bring an end to the financial hardship for the clients or ensure the clients are given the support they need to live an independent and fulfilled life. The project has an impressive success rate, with 83% of the disability benefits challenges and 100% of the community support challenges successfully overturned. Secondly, by increasing the numbers of clients Mencap can assist, more data can be collected as evidence that wider policy reform work is needed to challenge these issues on a larger systematic scale. Mencap is able to identify trends from this casework to pinpoint why clients routinely face the same issues and seek to address them with both local and national government. Both data and case studies from this project have been used to respond to national government consultations including the Ministry of Justice’s review of England’s legal aid project and the Department of Health and Social Care’s ongoing consultation on the future of social care in England. Data has also been used to track where unlawful policies have been implemented at a local government level.
Hogan Lovells Mexico Estandares Pro Bono Mexico Network
Lila Gasca, pro bono director at Hogan Lovells Mexico, along with the directors of three Mexican Clearinghouses — Carla Aguilar from Fundacion Barra Mexicana, Maru Cortazar and Mariana Vazquez del Mercado from Fundacion Appleseed Mexico, and Ivette Montero from Centro Mexicano Pro Bono — wrote the Pro Bono Standards Mexico and established a movement to standardize the concept of pro bono legal work and promote pro bono culture in Mexico. A large percentage of Mexico’s population is currently living under precarious circumstances due to different social, economic, and environmental deficiencies such as low income; lack of education; lack of access to basic services like healthcare, social security, and food; poor and insufficient housing; as well as lack of social cohesion. This vulnerable population does not have access to proper legal representation. This movement is the first step towards involving the legal community of this country, gathering together lawyers, law firms, in-house counsel, bar associations, law universities, and NGOs to do organized and standardized pro bono work and spread the pro bono culture throughout Mexico.
Kids in Need of Defense UK, Allen & Overy, Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, DLA Piper, Reed Smith, Ropes & Gray, Shearman & Sterling, Coram, and Islington Law Centre
Kids in Need of Defense UK (KIND UK) has built a network of pro bono lawyers who prepare nationality and leave-to-remain applications for undocumented children who have a right to remain in the UK. These collaborations have resulted in a 100% success rate for applications submitted to the Home Office. KIND UK and its lawyers network often provide support to communities that cannot access legal support because of cuts to legal aid and local government funding. In 2013, the scope of legal aid for immigration cases was drastically reduced in England and Wales, leaving only children with international protection claims as automatically eligible for free legal representation. To combat cuts and increased demand, KIND UK’s network of pro bono lawyers volunteer their time to improve access to justice for these vulnerable children with irregular or temporary immigration status. These children qualify for leave-to-remain under the Immigration Rules on the basis of their residence in the UK for seven continuous years and the unreasonableness of removing these children to their home country. Without this legal support to secure their right to remain, the impact on families can be devastating. KIND UK ultimately provides not only legal but also physical and emotional stability, all without the burden of additional fees.
Respect Zone Legal Aid Lawyers group (including Nomos Law Firm, Salzer Law Firm, Mary Daphne Fishelson Avocat, Kramer Levin Paris and NYC, and Dreyfus IP Counsels)
Respect Zone is a French legal aid organization that, with the support of dozens of volunteer lawyers in three different countries, provides free legal aid for cyberviolence victims. Currently, more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online. Since cyberviolence is a relatively new issue, many victims are unaware of their rights or the legal process to respond to cyberthreats. To guarantee protection for these victims, accessible and understandable support is necessary. This organization provides various tools and training programs to schools and municipalities. It has developed various easy-to-use online tools for victims of cyberbullying. With the help of over 60 legal representatives, Respect Zone can guarantee an answer for those who need it and provide legal information and documentation to educators, victims, and parents. While this project is mainly based in France, it is available to citizens of any country. Furthermore, since cyberviolence is an issue that goes beyond borders, Respect Zone advises victims wherever they may be via email and social media so that they can better understand their rights if they suffer abuse online.