In Amsterdam on 17 November, Reed Smith received PILnet’s 2016 European Pro Bono Award for Exemplary Partnership in the Public Interest. Reed Smith earned this year’s award for its successful collaboration with the Greek nonprofit METAdrasi in upholding the rights of refugees stranded in Greece.
This award annually recognizes the best Pro Bono legal collaboration between an NGO and a law firm in Europe.
PILnet is a leading European-based nonprofit connecting law firms with worthy pro bono projects throughout Europe. METAdrasi (Action for Migration and Development) is devoted to facilitating the reception and integration of refugees and immigrants in Greece.
Faced with the largest European refugee crisis in recent history, Reed Smith this year sent teams of volunteer lawyers and interpreters to assist METAdrasi’s work on three Greek islands (Lesbos, Chios, and Samos). 10,000 refugees were stranded there. The Reed Smith and METAdrasi lawyers worked together to advocate for the most vulnerable refugees such as torture survivors, rape victims, the disabled, the elderly, women and children.
Reed Smith sent a dozen of its own lawyers and recruited interpreters and other lawyers to join them; in all, Reed Smith’s effort included 60 participants on the islands. These teams assisted with 270 adult refugee cases and 150 unaccompanied minors, helping determine who would be deported back to Turkey and who could remain in Europe. An additional team of 30 lawyers provided remote assistance through research and drafting.
Reed Smith’s pro bono effort in Greece is part of the wider work of its human rights team, led by Pro Bono Counsel Jayne Fleming. That work is ongoing in Jordan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Spain, Germany, Haiti and Central America.
In his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, Michael Skrein, Reed Smith’s responsible business partner EMEA commented, ‘We were honoured to work with METAdrasi on this important project, dealing with the huge refugee issue. It was a real collaboration between an NGO and law firm, which is the sort of thing PILnet fosters. We devoted a lot of resource to it, involving lawyers around our international offices We had a big research team. We had lawyers on the ground, such as Becca (who was on stage), our pro bono manager based in London. But above all I wanted to pay tribute to Jayne Fleming, pro bono counsel in the US, who led this and made it all possible.’
Garth Meintjes, PILnet’s president commented, ‘Reed Smith’s collaboration has been an important pioneering effort in leveraging new resources for public interest aid. Its influence will be felt across Europe. It is truly our honor to present Reed Smith and METAdrasi with this award.’
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a global relationship law firm with more than 1,700 lawyers in 26 offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 1877, the firm represents leading international businesses, from Fortune 100 corporations to mid-market and emerging enterprises. Its lawyers provide litigation and other dispute resolution services in multi-jurisdictional and other high-stakes matters; deliver regulatory counsel; and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. Reed Smith is a preeminent advisor to industries including financial services, life sciences, health care, advertising, entertainment and media, shipping and transport, energy and natural resources, real estate, manufacturing and technology, and education. For more information, visit reedsmith.com.
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