Last year, the firm’s London office delivered over 21,900 hours of pro bono work, compared to 16,720 in the previous year, marking an increase of almost a third (31%).
81% of the office’s lawyers provided some pro bono support with an average of 67 hours across the year.
Across the EMEA region, the firm provided over 29,000 hours of pro bono work.
Michael Skrein, Reed Smith’s EMEA Head of Responsible Business, said: “The numbers speak for themselves. We are delighted to have been able to achieve such a significant increase in the pro bono support we provide in a year that was so challenging for so many. Of course, the figures only tell half the story. Pro bono is about making a meaningful impact and our lawyers have most certainly delivered that. We look forward to continuing our ever-increasing pro bono support throughout 2021.”
Testament to the impact made by Reed Smith’s pro bono practice, it was awarded ‘Best Contribution by a Large Firm’ at LawWorks’ Annual Pro Bono Awards 2020.
The firm’s pro bono work last year consisted of its existing long-term partnerships, clinics and projects, as well as new relationships and work that the firm set up to meet changing need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New pro bono projects
To counter increasing domestic violence during lockdown, Reed Smith expanded its work to help clients with emergency injunctions with the National Centre for Domestic Violence.
The firm also expanded its work for LGBT+ rights, the environment and racial justice.
It is currently representing Detention Action in an intervention in a legal challenge brought by two children in relation to their father’s planned deportation. Detention Action is introducing evidence of the impact of deportation on children. Reed Smith considers it vitally important that the rights of the children are respected.
Long-term pro bono partnerships, clinics and projects
The firm provides in-person legal advice and support to members of the public through University House Legal Advice Centre’s Family Law and Domestic Violence Clinic and the Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre (QMLAC). The firm has worked with QMLAC for over 13 years.
Reed Smith also provides written advice on human rights issues through Liberty’s Letter Writing Clinic; on European law issues relating to vulnerable and marginalised EU nationals through The AIRE Centre; on prison rights through the Prisoners’ Advice Service; and on employment rights to parents and carers through an innovative digital platform developed by charity, Working Families.
The firm works on immigration cases from start to finish. These include leave-to-remain applications for undocumented children with Kids in Need of Defense UK (KIND UK) and working with stateless individuals through Consonant/Asylum Aid.
Reed Smith’s KIND UK work focuses on regularising the immigration status of undocumented children. The family is often destitute, living under precarious conditions. The impact of this work on the clients is life-changing. Being granted a right to stay legally in the UK provides opportunities and security for children and their parents who can start supporting their families. Without this legal support, the plight of families can be devastating and, in cases of vulnerable individuals, potentially life-threatening.
Through University House Legal Advice Centre the firm represents clients in the First-tier Tribunal who are denied their disability benefits. This is an extremely important service for those in need. University House estimates that the success rate before the First-tier Tribunal rises dramatically when appellants are provided with a representative.
Reed Smith’s lawyers who are trained as community mediators help settle neighbourhood disputes through the Tower Hamlets Mediation Project (THMP). This project was set up by the firm’s pro bono team and external mediators.
Find out more about Reed Smith’s pro bono work.
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. Our belief is that by delivering smarter and more creative legal services, we will not only enrich our clients’ experiences with us, but also support them in achieving their business goals.
Our long-standing relationships, international outlook and collaborative structure, make us the go-to partner for the speedy resolution of complex disputes, transactions and regulatory matters.
For further information, please visit reedsmith.com.