Last month from 23-27 November, PILnet helped organize and host the 2nd annual European Pro Bono Week, an umbrella event that celebrates the role played by volunteer lawyers, all across Europe, in supporting civil society and human rights organizations and promoting access to justice for those in need. Across 14 jurisdictions, lawyers, clearinghouses, law students, non-profits, human rights activists, academics, and business representatives gathered and engaged in conversations about important social and legal issues within Europe and the role of pro bono in responding to global crises.

The European Pro Bono Initiative, the organizing committee of law firms, invited PILnet to use its convening power and depth of its network to co-organize the week along with TrustLaw. PILnet was directly involved with the events in Austria, Russia, France, Belgium, and Hungary, and engaged with its clearinghouse partners to help plan events in other jurisdictions, like Ukraine and Romania.

Conversations at these events underscored the importance of institutionalizing dialogue between law firms and NGOs so that stakeholders could share knowledge and tools and establish partnerships that provide NGOs with the legal assistance they need. They specifically spoke about how legal tools can be used to protect human rights during global crises such as protecting victims of domestic violence, ensuring access to education for children, and protecting private data. Participants will work to collaborate across sectors to address these concerns.

The law firm hosts are following up with participants to determine what steps will be taken in 2021. PILnet will also continue to cooperate with these stakeholders to ensure that these conversations continue and will work with the European Pro Bono Alliance to help strengthen pro bono throughout Europe.