Access to justice
As a major international firm, we have a role to play in enabling communities around the world to secure fair access to legal advice and justice.
Community legal clinics
Community legal clinics are a vital part of the framework by which individuals are able to access legal advice where they would otherwise not be able to afford representation. Clyde & Co lawyers provide in-person advice, advice via Skype, full casework assistance and governance advice to community legal clinics from our offices around the world.
In the UK, the firm runs weekly pro bono advice sessions at Brent Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Lambeth and Surrey Law Centres, Manchester University Legal Advice Centre and the Royal Courts of Justice. Our secretaries provide crucial typing support to the lawyers employed by Lambeth and Surrey Law Centres, using digital dictation technology installed by our IT teams. Over the past year, our secretaries have typed up an average of 10 dictations each week – saving the law centre lawyers many hours of work.
Internationally, the firm supports community legal clinics local to our regional offices. These include the Hong Kong Duty Lawyer Service providing volunteer support on weeknights after work to provide the public with free legal advice, the Volunteer Legal Services Program of the San Francisco Bar Association, the Mile End Legal Clinic in Montreal and the Street Law clinic in Western Australia.
I don’t know how I’d survive without [the typing service]! The secretaries do urgent work that I simply [could not] do without their help. They [show] great enthusiasm... I can’t praise them enough.
Katie, Solicitor at Lambeth law Centre
Social welfare law
In response to growing need for legal advice and representation, we are training our lawyers to develop expertise in areas of social welfare law, in conjunction with LawWorks. The International Arbitration team in London is participating in a new advocacy project representing individuals suffering with disabilities at first-tier tribunal appeals. As part of the London office’s 3-year partnership with Richard House Hospice, in 2016, the London office launched a monthly pro bono clinic to provide assistance to the families of the Hospice in challenging the suitability of a family’s accommodation and ensuring the suitability of a child’s care package.
Both these areas no longer qualify for legal aid and providing this advice and assistance has helped ensure that families’ rights are protected and enforced. These families are often under enormous emotional, physical and financial strain and they have said that this support has been invaluable. As a result we are looking to expand this specialist clinic to other locations around the UK where our offices are twinned with its local children’s hospice.
Having legal assistance is incredibly helpful as we are able to correctly signpost to experts around some of the matters our families are facing. This has been a huge support to our families, knowing that they can speak to people who care and are genuinely there to support them through their matters. Clyde & Co are respectful of our families and professional throughout, and have shown dedication to the work.
Shahina Haque, Richard House Family Support Services Manager
The Mission to sea farers
Many of our offices around the world support the Mission to Seafarers. This charity works in over 260 ports caring for seafarers of all ranks and nationalities by offering practical and emotional support through ship visits, drop-in centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services.
As well as giving support to the charity’s operational and governance needs, Clyde & Co.’s MENA offices have set up a pro bono legal clinic to assist with seafarer’s non-payment of wage claims, employment issues and other legal disputes. Our offices also help with fundraising support for The Mission to Seafarers local support vessel, “The Flying Angel”, which provides assistance to seafarers on ships, some of whom have been at sea for up to two years without coming to shore, enabling them to contact family, visit the library and a travelling shop.
Street Law Western Australia
The Perth office is a strong supporter of Street Law Western Australia, an independent, not for profit community legal centre that provides pro bono legal services to the homeless or those at risk of homelessness.
We assist with all aspects of Street Law’s management with a focus on developing and maintaining Street Law’s links with law firms, the independent Bar, Government and other community organisations.
My pro bono work with Street Law is a meaningful way that Clyde & Co and I can give back to the legal and broader community. Clyde & Co and Street Law have shared values, and my role at Street Law has allowed me to promote the values that we share to a broad cross section of the Western Australian business community.
Luke Carbon, Associate, Clyde & Co and Board Member, Street Law
Above: Clyde & Co. & Street Law at Community Services Excellence Awards, Perth
Expertise for charities and NGOs
The firm provides specialist industry-specific pro bono legal advice to charities, NGOs and industry groups to help with their establishment and operational needs.
Using insurance in humanitarian relief
We seek out innovative opportunities to use our global reach and core business expertise to make a significant impact to charities and NGOs. This year, we are providing pro bono legal support to The Start Network, a network of 39 national and international humanitarian NGOs including ActionAid, Care, Oxfam and the International Rescue Committee, collaborating to connect people in crisis to the best possible solutions. One of The Start Network’s key initiatives is using parametric insurance to mitigate climate risk and specifically to prevent slow onset droughts from becoming full blown food crises. With this mechanism, insurance payouts are based on a set of pre-agreed scientific data triggers such as rainfall or soil moisture, early indicators of impending drought. When the triggers are met, funding is released automatically to cover the cost of early intervention activities by NGOs in order to prevent a full scale humanitarian emergency and protect the most vulnerable communities.
Clyde & Co insurance and regulatory lawyers are providing pro bono advice to Start on all aspects of the underlying parametric insurance policy itself, as well as regulatory aspects and related contracts for Start Network members.
We are very grateful for the invaluable support and advice that the Clyde & Co team are providing to The Start Network, as we launch an exciting new insurance initiative in the humanitarian sector. By replicating the parametric insurance policies of African sovereign states that hold drought insurance policies with African Risk Capacity, humanitarian agencies work more closely with governments in their contingency planning for drought and these coordinated responses will protect the most vulnerable people from climate shocks.
Sean Lowrie, Director of The Start Network
Public Interest Lawyers Network
PILNET (the Public Interest Lawyers Network) is a global organisation devoted to delivering justice and protecting rights. Clyde & Co is a regular sponsor of PILnet initiatives and this year the Hong Kong office has advised on PILnet’s application for charitable status in Hong Kong.
Charity law in emerging markets
In a number of jurisdictions where we work, charity law and regulation is a developing area. We are able to use our expertise and knowledge of local regulatory regimes to enable organisations to achieve charitable or non-profit status. Manzil is a special needs school based in the UAE. The Dubai office provides pro bono legal advice to Manzil including contractual and governance advice, as well as assistance with regulatory issues with the relevant authorities.
Above: Clyde & Co. lawyers with children supported by Manzil Centre
The Doha office has advised Maktaba on their start up and operation as a not for profit organisation in Qatar. Maktaba, a children's library, has recently been set up as a Private Institute for Public Benefit with a mission to inspire children and their parents to fall in love with books and reading.
Lawyers volunteering for the arts
Clyde & Co is a founding firm of Lawyers Volunteering for the Arts (LVFA). This is a national pro bono project in the UK, the aim of which is to provide free legal advice to low-income arts and cultural organisations. A team of Clyde & Co. Real Estate and Corporate lawyers in the London office has just completed a complex two-year pro bono matter, supporting a new arts charity “Peckham Platform” with complex intellectual property advice and drafting a new lease.
We are very grateful for the pro bono support from Clyde & Co to complete our lease and related advice around this issue. We simply could not have made this transition without their sustained pro bono support. I cannot recommend the LVFA scheme enough.
Emily Druiff, Executive Director, Peckham Platform
Bingham Centre for the rule of law
Clyde & Co is currently supporting the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, aiding its work around the world, as part of a 5 year partnership. Given the firm’s broad international cover and a reputation for our work in emerging markets, we are in a unique position to support international humanitarian law and the concepts of fairness and justice.
The Bingham Centre (part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law) is an independent think tank with a focus on understanding and promoting the rule of law. The Centre highlights and investigates threats to the rule of law, provides training and promotes the rule of law amongst governments, decision makers and the general public and demonstrates how the rule of law upholds respect of human dignity and enhances economic development and political stability.
If you would like to get involved with any of the activities listed above, please contact Sophie Arup for more information.