Ashursts launches global pro bono scheme

Ashurst Morris Crisp is embarking on an international pro bono drive, with the Paris and Frankfurt offices earmarked as the first locations for new projects.

The firm has a community scheme running in its New Delhi office, but has decided to integrate all of its offices into an international pro bono scheme. The scheme will be run and funded from London.
Ashursts is the first City firm to announce the launch of an international pro bono scheme. However, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Lovells are understood to be looking into similar ventures. Following the firm's merger with Boesebeck Droste in January 2000, Lovells appointed a German partner to chair a committee to develop pro bono in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Ashursts has offices in London, Frankfurt, Munich, Madrid, Milan, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Singapore and Tokyo. The firm intends to have the majority of its offices signed up to the scheme in the next 12 months.
Pro bono coordinator Elaine Hatton was unable to disclose how much the firm will increase its pro bono budget to include the international firms. But she said that in terms of billable hours given to lawyers to spend on pro bono work, the budget would go up by at least 25 per cent. The firm's London office spent 6,000 hours on pro bono work in 2000/2001.
Hatton said the international scheme will provide legal and non-legal advice. “We'll be involving everybody, including IT, human resources and marketing professionals, who will hopefully provide their own specific skills,” she said.