These [Roundtables] are positive, in terms of what they can directly do, but also in encouraging legal organizations to think creatively and be proactive about solutions to barriers to access to asylum processes.
With the aim to build refugee rights pro bono partnerships in Asia, PILnet, along with UNHCR, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Global Refugee Forum Legal Community Pledge Core Group members, including the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees, organized a second Asia Pro Bono Legal Community Roundtable in August 2022. 100% of the 12 projects pitched have been matched with at least one legal partner, unlocking new partnerships, legal capacity and tens of thousands of dollars worth of free legal services for NGOs and Refugee-Led Organizations (RLOs) in Asia Pacific.
Since the event, PILnet and other Core Group members have worked with the NGOs/RLOs and interested firms to further scope their projects and build collaborative partnerships. Indonesian NGO, SUAKA (Indonesia Civil Society Association for Refugee Rights Protection) commented the following on the matching process:
PILnet has actively and consistently monitored and assisted all organizations involved in the preparation and execution of the matchup. By matching us up with competent law firms’ networks, it helps us to further increase our networks and stakeholders mapping with well-established parties that have the ideal tools and resources to work together [and has] increased further dialogue between stakeholders in the refugee management issues in Indonesia.
Projects matched focused on different themes such as providing direct assistance to asylum-seekers and refugees, comparative and country-specific research on a broad range of forced displacement issues, and legal support to strengthen the organizational capacity of several NGOs and RLOs. Some projects were regional in scope, while others focused specifically on legal needs in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, South Korea, and the Philippines. The following law firms were matched for legal support with the projects: Herbert Smith Freehills, White & Case, Dechert LLP, Allen & Overy, Linklaters, DLA Piper, Morrison Foerster, Hogan Lovells, and Mayer Brown.
Several projects requiring short-term support have already been completed. In addition, PILnet has supported the design of a number of long-term collaborative projects, involving multiple law firms that will provide direct legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers under the supervision of the pitching NGOs.
Speaking about their experience of working with the law firm matched through the Roundtable, regional organization, Asia Displacement Solutions Platform (ADSP) shared:
We have had 3-4 calls approx 1 per month with the lawyers. They are all excellent, and are very accommodating in supporting us through this request.
If you have a project which could benefit from pro bono legal support, submit this intake form and we will get back to you.
If you wish to provide pro bono support for projects designed to increase access to rights, justice and solutions for refugees and others forcibly displaced, please contact us at [email protected].