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Weil Gotshal & Manges has boosted its commitment to pro bono and charity work in London by picking disabled children's charity Kids as its UK charity partner.
The firm supported Kids in organising a recent gala dinner at the Royal Courts of Justice on 2 February. The event saw 400 guests drinking vodka by candlelight in the courts' crypt. The dinner raised £326,000 for the charity.
But Weil's involvement with Kids goes back further. In previous years, lawyers from the US firm's London office have been found helping to paint playgrounds for the charity, which aims to encourage the development of disabled children.
The work that Weil is doing with Kids is part of the firm's global commitment to pro bono activity. Last year, Weil lawyers in London chalked up an impressive average of 34 hours of pro bono work each - a total of nearly 4,500 for the office.
London pro bono coordinator Nick Flynn explained that Weil has annual targets for pro bono work in the same way as it has billable hours targets.
"Pro bono is very much at the core of what Weil is about," said Flynn. "The firm says our contribution to the social side of matters is as valuable as our contribution to the business world."
In the immediate aftermath of the Asian tsunami on Boxing Day, 30 Weil lawyers spent two weeks helping a local Oxfam shop price up goods that had been donated to the charity.
On a more specifically legal note, lawyers from the firm have also been giving advice on data protection issues to Help the Aged. Flynn said he looks for pro bono work that will help imbue Weil lawyers with confidence that their skills can be of real use.
"In the US it seems that there are more conduits for charities to find pro bono work," Flynn said. Accordingly, he is encouraging a proactive rather than reactive approach to pro bono activity in London, and along with the rest of Weil's London pro bono committee, he is talking to charities to find new ways of helping them.
Not content with extracting 34 hours from each of the firm's UK fee-earners, Flynn and the pro bono committee are determined to continue the development of Weil's charitable and pro bono work in London, in line with the firm's global strategy. As with the UK support of Kids, children have been an important focus for that strategy. It includes support to Lawyers for Children, a charity that helps children in foster care and works for other neglected young people caught up in the US welfare system.