From November 22-26, 2021, PILnet and its partners held the third 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.

During this week, events took place across the continent – from Moscow to Dublin and Rome to Amsterdam – to highlight and promote pro bono culture. Each local event had a unique agenda, focusing on the most pressing legal needs and social issues in that city, region or country. However, this year, the overarching theme for the week was the state and future of pro bono.

The European Pro Bono Initiative, the organizing committee of law firms, invited PILnet to once again use its convening power and depth of its network to co-organize the week along with TrustLaw. PILnet was also heavily involved with the first ever joint European event and the events in Russia and Hungary.

On November 22, the first ever joint European event launched European Pro Bono Week. The theme of this event was the state and future of pro bono in Europe and featured PILnet board member and co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Márta Pardavi.

The following day, PILnet facilitated Hungary and Russia Pro Bono day. During Hungary Pro Bono Day, participants had a roundtable discussion on the current state of pro bono in Hungary. During this conversation, a special focus was on children’s rights in remote areas, particularly related to the Roma community.

During Russia Pro Bono Day, 16 participants, including 9 NGOs, discussed tips on tax law, data protection for NGOs, and the current legal needs of Russian NGOs. In addition, there was a discussion about the PILnet Eurasia Clearinghouse with many NGOs expressing their interest in comparative legal research of best practices throughout the world. All the NGO participants were provided with the instructions on how to apply for pro bono assistance through PILnet. Pro bono lawyers also explained new trends in data protection laws and gave some practical tips about how to obtain consent from NGOs clients to collect and use personal data.

The law firm hosts will follow up with participants to determine what steps can be taken in 2022. 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. Visit our event page for select recordings from this week.