The Thomson Reuters Foundation Launches 'TrustLaw'

TrustLaw is a free online service promoting the practice of pro bono legal work around the world, as well as an international information hub on anti-corruption and governance issues.

- A free international marketplace for pro bono projects, connecting lawyers with those who are unable to pay but need legal assistance

- The uniquely ambitious service already has over 190 partners signed up across the globe, including over 60 leading law firms, 80 NGOs and almost as many social entrepreneurs

- The service is today live, at www.trust.org

Jun 22, 2010, 09:00 ET from Thomson Reuters

LONDON, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Thomson Reuters Foundation today announces the launch of TrustLaw, an ambitious global service that will transform access to pro bono legal support and provide an international hub on anti-corruption and good governance issues.

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The new service (www.trust.org/trustlaw) will widen access to the rule of law and promote greater transparency, empowering people with trusted information and free legal assistance.

Speaking at the launch, Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation said, "At a time of great economic uncertainty, legal support is more important than ever for organisations addressing the critical social and environmental issues of our age. The Thomson Reuters Foundation has set itself an ambitious goal: to create a truly international new marketplace connecting those in need of free legal assistance with those able to provide it - anywhere in the world. The dramatic response we have already seen from the non-profit and legal communities highlights the appetite and need for such a service."

As a truly global online resource on anti-corruption and good governance, TrustLaw brings together a repository of information, advice and best practice, along with agenda-setting material from the Foundation's expert editorial team. With a database of national legislation, international conventions, news, country profiles and law reviews, this will offer a one-stop shop for anti-corruption and governance information. This model will later be used for other areas including women's rights.

Nancy Boswell, President and CEO of Transparency International-USA, the global civil society organisation, said of TrustLaw, "TI-USA applauds the launch of TrustLaw and believes it will contribute significantly to reducing corruption by providing greater access to information.  The free-flow of information helps empower people to hold their governments and the private sector accountable.   We look forward to working with TrustLaw to bring its benefits to a global constituency."  

At the heart of the project is TrustLaw Connect, an online marketplace for pro bono work, which will help to spread the culture and practice of pro bono legal assistance around the globe. TrustLaw Connect is a must-have tool for lawyers interested in doing high-impact pro bono and volunteer work. Likewise, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and government agencies will be able to readily access pro bono legal support from lawyers anywhere in the world – for free.

TrustLaw Connect itself is a unique online platform, offered free to all members, enabling fast, efficient connections between those in need of legal assistance and those able to provide it. It will act as a trusted intermediary, vetting participants on all sides to ensure confidence in the requests and assistance provided.

On the TrustLaw Connect service, Stuart Popham, Senior Partner Worldwide at Clifford Chance said: "TrustLaw is such a great concept that will really help lawyers fulfil their social responsibilities. It is independent, cutting edge and has already got the support of large parts of the international legal community. It will reach those around the world most in need, even those who are furthest from the protection of the law. I am delighted to be involved with this unique new marketplace."

Monique Villa said, "We recognised that a key barrier for law firms managing a pro bono programme is making initial contact with organisations with high impact projects. NGOs and entrepreneurs are also often unaware of the help they can receive. TrustLaw Connect will bridge this gap."

Over 190 organisations working in over 140 countries have already joined TrustLaw Connect, including over 60 leading law firms from around the world. Joining the first truly international service of its kind, ahead of launch, leading lawyers firms such as Slaughter and May, Eversheds, Herbert Smith, Torys, Bird & Bird and Beirut Legal have already assisted NGOs and entrepreneurs through the TrustLaw Connect network.

Not only a forum for law firms, TrustLaw Connect also brings together many of the world's leading organisations supporting innovative social entrepreneurs globally - including the Skoll Foundation and the Schwab Foundations - plus over 80 NGOs.

Contacts

Thomson Reuters Foundation


Victoria Brough

Head of External Affairs, EMEA

+ 44 (0) 207 542 8763

victoria.brough@thomsonreuters.com


Tom Gilbert

Corporate Communications Manager

+44 (0) 207 542 4214

tom.h.gilbert@thomsonreuters.com


Anne-Sophie Sabouret

Partnerships & Communications Manager

Thomson Reuters Foundation

+44 (0) 207 542 3397

Anne.Sabouret@thomsonreuters.com



Notes to Editors

1. Thomson Reuters Foundation

Established in 1982, Thomson Reuters Foundation is a registered charity in Britain and the United States. The charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, it leverages the skills and expertise across the corporation to increase trust and access to the rule of law, to save lives through the provision of trusted information and to improve standards of journalism.

Following the acquisition of Reuters by Thomson Corp in 2008, the Foundation's resources and programmes were expanded and a new leadership team was appointed. The Thomson Reuters Foundation website, trust.org, is a portal which integrates the Foundation's three key areas of focus and brings together the Foundation's community of partners.

2. About TrustLaw Connect

What is TrustLaw?: A free vehicle to spread the culture and practice of pro bono work around the world. TrustLaw connects those who need legal help with lawyers willing to work at no cost.

Who is TrustLaw for?: For non-governmental organisations (NGOs), social entrepreneurs, and governments in need of legal support but who cannot afford it. For lawyers who want to engage in high impact pro bono work.

Why has this been launched?: The Thomson Reuters Foundation has considerable experience of building humanitarian communities and working with NGOs principally through the global humanitarian site  AlertNet.org.. According to a survey of our members, legal expertise is by far the most unmet need in this sector, TrustLaw will work in partnership with the most renowned organisations supporting social entrepreneurs around the world.

How will it work?: TrustLaw Connect, the new marketplace for TrustLaw,  works on a free membership basis and all members are carefully vetted. The Foundation will help beneficiaries to describe their legal needs and we then share their requests with our international community of pro bono lawyers and finally connect beneficiaries with the lawyers with whom they choose to work.

Where will TrustLaw work?: Globally, at the point of need; wherever a non-profit organisation, social entrepreneur, or government needs it.

3. Examples of pro bono projects, already connected

TrustLaw Connect has already made a number of successful pro bono connections using its unparalleled international network.

a.  UNITED KINGDOM - EveryChild UK and Slaughter and May: Leading global firm Slaughter and May is advising international children's charity EveryChild on the impact of a new UK employment directive relating to the use of temporary agency staff.

b. CANADA – Medair and Torys: Torys, one of Canada's leading law firms, is advising Swiss humanitarian aid agency Medair on registering in Canada, a move which Medair expects would provide support for their work in Haiti and throughout the world

4. Benefits of TrustLaw Connect membership For lawyers, one of the most difficult aspects of managing a pro bono programme is finding suitable clients and projects. Identifying new pro bono opportunities takes time and requires experience. Meanwhile, many NGOs, entrepreneurs and even some governments, need legal help but lack the financial means to get it.

Benefits for lawyers include:

  • Access to truly global pro bono projects that are otherwise hard to find;
  • A fully searchable database of requests for legal assistance to help  track down the right projects;
  • Connections to a network of international lawyers and counsels of major corporations; and
  • Access to a hub of important information and resources.

Benefits for NGOs and entrepreneurs include:

  • Access to an international network of lawyers offering pro bono assistance;
  • Assistance in understanding  legal needs before posting them;
  • Help in dealing with different offers of assistance; and
  • A way to access legal assistance quickly and efficiently.

SOURCE Thomson Reuters