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October 19, 09

NEWS / Pro Bono Work Distinguishes U.S. Law Firm Internationally

By Carlyn Reichel
Staff Writer

Washington — Lawyer jokes do not typically feature punch lines about responsible corporate citizenship, but at least one U.S.-based law firm is defying the stereotypes on a global scale.

With offices from Los Angeles to Tokyo, Johannesburg to Helsinki, White & Case prides itself on its pro bono work — donated legal services — and cultivating corporate philanthropy around the world. White & Case’s Moscow office stands out in its efforts to promote civil society and the rule of law in Russia.

In addition to its in-house pro bono program, White & Case was a leading partner in the creation of the Russian Pro Bono Legal Clearinghouse that helps Russian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) navigate the increasingly challenging legal environment governing their work. The initiative brings lawyers from 26 international and local firms in Moscow as well as the legal departments of several Moscow-based corporations together with organizations that need legal help. In 2008, the clearinghouse handled more than 90 cases and donated legal advice valued at more than $900,000 to Russian NGOs. All told, 49 of White & Case’s Moscow lawyers donated more than 1,800 hours of legal services in 2008.

With the International Finance Corporation and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, White & Case also helped launch “A Chance to Work,” a project to integrate orphans and marginalized youth into society through work placement services. Slava Muretov joined White & Case as a part-time courier through this program in 2002 and currently works in the registration department of the firm’s Moscow office. Muretov is also pursuing a law degree. He will graduate from the Moscow State Academy of Law in 2010 and plans to work as a corporate or real estate lawyer.

White & Case has also made an investment in bringing along a generation of Russian lawyers grounded in the rule of law and familiar with international practices. In 2002, White & Case sponsored the first Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court competition in Russia, and it has continued to sponsor the event annually.

In moot courts, participants take part in simulated court proceedings. The Jessup competition features fictional disputes between countries at the International Court of Justice of the United Nations.

In seven years, the Moscow competition has grown from 14 to 45 participating teams, making it one of the largest national Jessup competitions in the world, second only to the one in the United States. Mooting has become a crucial part of a Russian legal education, providing future Russian lawyers valuable insight into international law as they prepare arguments and make presentations before a judging panel of volunteer Russian and foreign lawyers, diplomats and academics.

The firm’s work with the moot court in Russia has expanded such that White & Case is now the official global partner of the Jessup competition. It sponsors competitions in nine countries and facilitates travel to the international competition in Washington for more than a dozen teams that otherwise could not afford to attend.

For its work on the rule of law and its pro bono activities, the firm has been selected as a finalist in the U.S. secretary of state’s 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence. White & Case LLC was founded in New York City more than 100 years ago and today has 36 offices in 25 countries around the world.


Tags: secretary of state, corporation,


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