Allen & Overy's Pro Bono and Community Affairs Program is an important part of the practice. Our rapid growth in many cities around the world has led us to think more about the effect we have on the wider communities in which we live and work and how we can use our skills to benefit not just our clients but the community around us. We receive clear feedback that staff want us to acknowledge a responsibility towards these wider communities. It is clear that many staff recognize a similar personal responsibility and look to Allen & Overy to provide opportunities for them to meet that responsibility.
Much of Allen & Overy’s pro bono work deals with international issues and human rights. Our work ranges from helping to revise the constitution of an East African nation, to providing legal services to microfinance institutions, to working to stop the exploitation of children, to defending the rights of 11 Yemeni men detained at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay since 2002. Below are some of the areas of pro bono and community affairs our attorneys are involved in:
London associate, Stefka Kavaldjieva, serves as a charity trustee and a member of the Management Committee of the Limehouse Project, a community, voluntary sector organization delivering an extensive range of services in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in Britain, in a number of languages, including Somali, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and Arabic. Last year alone the Limehouse Project doubled its funding capacity for the next several years and Stefka assisted the management with addressing the growing staffing, housing and management needs of the association.
New York associates have been involved with a pro bono project revising the constitution of a small East African country. Our Allen & Overy team first identified ambiguities in the current constitution and suggested alternate language. The second phase of the project involved drafting a detailed comparative analysis of various constitutional provisions, such as the legislative process and judicial independence, vis-à-vis benchmark countries. Further phases include dealing with bicameralism, the decentralization and devolution of authority, gender equality issues and how to reconcile the Shari’a, traditional and common law elements of the country’s constitution.
London associates have advised the Delhi, India-based organization the Drishtee Foundation, an organization that aims to encourage small-scale entrepreneurs in rural India. Having reached over 4,000 villages with internationally acclaimed trade and education initiatives, Drishtee is expanding to provide health services and rural micro-banking activities. One associate spent ten consecutive weeks in Delhi in 2008, in order to lead Drishtee through a comprehensive legal risk and compliance audit, re-draft key contracts, and create and foster pro bono relationships with two Indian law firms who offered advice under local laws and statutes.
New York associate, Vinod Aravind, was one of a number of U.S. attorneys to work on a deal to ensure that USD10 million reaches the communities that need it the most. New York partner, David Slade, has led a number of pro bono housing and microfinance projects for the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). For example, he and associates assisted OPIC in the structuring of an affordable housing program for the West Bank of Palestine. Also, he advised OPIC on establishing a standby loan facility to support the microfinance activity of the Calvert Social Foundation. The mission of Calvert is ‘to maximize the flow of capital to disadvantaged communities in order to foster a more equitable and sustainable society’.
AfriKids as our global charity partner form 2012-2014. We aimed to raise L250,000 to cover the running costs of the Next Generation Home for street and trafficked children for two years. In total, A&O has contributed an incredible L1.32m to AfriKids since the partnership began in May 2012! It also received ‘Highly Commended’ in the Business Charity Awards. This total consisted of: Over L822,000 of fundraising and donations – more than trebling A&O’s target; Over L467,000 worth of legal and non-legal pro bono support (including 1,485 volunteered hours); and L31,568 work of in-kind support rough hosting events and providing printing and design services for AfriKids in Ghana and the UK.
Most recently, Allen & Overy has chosen for our 2014-2016 Global Charity Partner, Amref Health Africa, Africa’s leading health development organization. The global firm is developing a legal advocacy toolkit for Amref on sexual health and reproductive rights and education. Elaine Johnston, partner in the New York Office, is assisting on this project. For more information, please visit our website.
We also reach out to communities worldwide through arts, education, and charity initiatives. For example, in June 2009 we launched the first ever Smart Start Experience, which gives disadvantaged young people from across London an opportunity to gain a valuable insight into how the world of business works.