Freshfields launches pro bono network

Freshfields launches pro bono networkFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is to launch an international pro bono network in an effort to encourage greater coordination between offices doing pro bono work.

Head of pro bono, Clarissa O’Callaghan, is to take up a global position to coordinate the push, while litigation associate Paul Yates is promoted to head of pro bono in the UK.

Litigation partner Paul Lomas (pictured) said: “Clarissa’s role is now about global coordination. Her role for the next year is to monitor our activities and bring in some alignment to global activities.”

Lomas said that while some firms may be considering making cuts during the economic downturn, Freshfields pledged to “encourage more people to get involved” in pro bono work.

While the firm’s New York and Hong Kong offices were extremely active, Lomas said the European offices were less so and a coordinated approach was needed to further encourage lawyers to get involved.

“We have used them [European offices] to do a lot in things like torture cases and at the moment we are looking at the rendition flights,” said Lomas.

He added: “The network is very active but we are trying to get that more coordinated between the offices.”

The firm has three streams of pro bono work. On an international level the firm is looking at issues such as 42 day detention and the transportation of AIDS drugs to Africa.

On a national level the firm works on projects which span one to two years. An example of this is the work it does with housing charity Shelter to lobby government to change housing law.