Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation e-Newsletter (October 2009)

 

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and the Global Fight to Empower Women and End Poverty

The New York Times Magazine recently featured a powerful article, "The Women’s Crusade", by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  The article portrays a sobering picture of the injustices faced by millions of disadvantaged women and girls around the world, including sex trafficking, servitude, maternal mortality, bride burning, female infanticide as well as a general lack of access to education and health care.

Kristof and WuDunn argue that focusing aid and investment on women and girls is the most effective way to fight poverty: “In many poor countries, the greatest unexploited resource isn’t oil fields or veins of gold; it is the women and girls who aren’t educated and never become a major presence in the formal economy. With education and with help starting businesses, [disadvantaged] women can earn money and support their countries as well as their families. They represent perhaps the best hope for fighting global poverty.” This view is increasingly being shared by governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and social entrepreneurs who are focusing their efforts and their dollars on women.

While painting a bleak picture of marginalized women around the world, the article also celebrates the incredible impact of organizations and social entrepreneurs that are working to empower and improve the lives of women and girls.  The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation was delighted to see that a number of the organizations and social entrepreneurs highlighted in a related article are supported by Lex Mundi member firms through the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.  These organizations include:

  • Vital Voices – an international NGO that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs, enabling them to create a better world;
  • Mercy Corps – an international NGO with a mission to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities;
  • CARE – a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty;
  • Grameen Foundation – inspired by the work of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the Grameen Foundation uses microfinance and innovative technology to fight global poverty and bring opportunities to the world's poorest people;
  • GlobalGiving – an online marketplace that enables individuals and companies to find and support high-impact, grassroots social and economic development projects;
  • Ashoka – a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs around the world; and
  • Kiva – the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities around the globe.

Success Stories: Lawyers Helping Social Entrepreneurs Change the World

Below are two recent projects of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation that highlight the pro bono work being done by Lex Mundi member firms and the impact Lex Mundi member firm lawyers are having on the lives of the world’s poor and disenfranchised.


Lex Mundi Member Firms Snell & Wilmer and Mayora & Mayora help Synergo Arts Maximize the Health and Prosperity of Artisans around the World

Artists and artisans in numerous cultures suffer from preventable injuries because they spend much of the day kneeling or sitting in difficult positions. Synergo Arts, the leading provider of resources in ergonomics education, consulting and design, helps communities of artists and artisans use ergonomics to prevent such injuries and in turn enhance their health, income, performance, productivity and the quality of their art or craft.

Synergo Arts was introduced to the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation by one of the Foundation’s partners, the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) at Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology and Society.  Since then, Lex Mundi member law firms have played an integral role in helping Synergo Arts become a nonprofit and continue to provide legal advice regarding the organization’s daily operations.

Ana Perez-Arrieta, Jeremy Sohn, Craig McPike, and J. Damon Ashcraft with Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., Lex Mundi’s member firm for Arizona, USA, advised Synergo Arts on a variety of structuring options and subsequently incorporated the organization as a nonprofit in Arizona.  Brad Petersen, Andrew Stone, and Carlos Sugich, also with Snell & Wilmer, continue to provide pro bono legal services for a variety of Synergo Arts’ domestic undertakings.

Eduardo Mayora Alvarado and María de la Concepción Villeda Wohlers with Mayora & Mayora, S.C., Lex Mundi’s member firm for Guatemala, provide additional legal help that enhances Synergo Arts’ work at the grassroots level.

Dr. Karen Piegorsch, the Founder and President of Synergo Arts, commented, “Snell & Wilmer and Mayora & Mayora attorneys helped us build a strong foundation for the organization. As a result of their service, we are able to move forward with confidence as we work to fulfill our mission. I am personally grateful to them and to the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.”

For more information about Synergo Arts, please visit www.synergoarts.org.


 



Synergo Arts is the leading provider of resources in ergonomics education, consulting and design; it helps communities of artists and artisans use ergonomics to prevent injuries.

 


Lex Mundi Member Firms Help Kiva Empower Women and Marginalized Individuals around the World

As the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, Kiva enables individuals to lend directly to small business entrepreneurs around the globe. Through its micro-lending service, Kiva facilitates the empowerment of traditionally marginalized populations by increasing their access to capital – capital that is used to create economic independence and improve lives of individuals, families and communities. The majority of Kiva’s entrepreneurs are women. Since its founding in 2005, Kiva has grown into one of the world’s largest microfinance facilitators, connecting entrepreneurs with millions of dollars in loans from hundreds of thousands of lenders around the world.

Kiva was introduced to the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation by one of its partners, the Draper Richards Foundation. Over the last few years, Lex Mundi’s global network of law firms have supported Kiva’s work in over thirteen countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.  The pro bono legal services provided by Lex Mundi’s member firms have included advice on local laws regulating the transfer of capital into the jurisdiction, advice on local banking and tax laws governing microfinance institutions, and help in establishing legal partnerships with local microfinance institutions.

The following Lex Mundi member law firms and lawyers have supported Kiva’s great work around the world:

Austin Choi, General Counsel of Kiva, commented, “Lex Mundi has given Kiva access to a range of local counsel in many countries where it operates, allowing [Kiva] to gain more comfort that it will be able to implement its business model successfully in those jurisdictions, thereby increasing the access to capital for the poorest citizens of those countries.”

For more information about Kiva, please visit www.kiva.org.


 



As the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, Kiva enables individuals to lend directly to small business entrepreneurs around the globe.

 


About the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms.  (For more information about Lex Mundi, please visit www.lexmundi.com.)  Utilizing the talents and resources of Lex Mundi’s powerful network of 160 top-tier commercial law firms in 100 countries around the globe, representing approximately 21,000 lawyers, the Foundation matches experienced lawyers who provide first-class legal services to social entrepreneurs on a pro bono basis, enabling them to carry out their missions of positive social change and to improve the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.

The Foundation defines social entrepreneurs as “transformative change makers”, individuals and organizations that use entrepreneurial and innovative ideas to improve communities and the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.  Because Lex Mundi member firms are leading, full-service law firms, they have the experience and expertise to provide critically important assistance to social entrepreneurs, thus helping them become successful agents of positive social change.

The Foundation is a “matchmaker” and does not practice law. Rather, it identifies effective social entrepreneurs through referrals by its partners/collaborators.  These organizations include the Skoll Foundation, Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Acumen Fund, Draper Richards Foundation, Global Fund for Children, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Echoing Green and Mercy Corps.  For a complete list of the Foundation’s collaborators, please visit http://www.lexmundiprobono.org/lexmundiprobono/Our_Collaborators.asp.  The Foundation is constantly exploring additional collaborative relationships with potential partners that support innovative and entrepreneurial social change makers.

The Foundation is unique in that there is no other global organization that is focused exclusively on providing pro bono legal services to social entrepreneurs.  The Foundation aspires to become one of the world’s premier pro bono legal service organizations and to reach many more social entrepreneurs.  It is off to a great start and continues to build capacity and expand the volume, value and impact of the pro bono services provided.

To learn more about the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and its current projects, please visit www.lexmundiprobono.org.  For all inquiries, please contact Chloe Holderness at Tel: 1.202.429.1630.

On behalf of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, we would like to thank everyone who has been part of our success to date.


Carl Anduri, President
Chloe Holderness, Managing Director
David Roll, Associate Director
Ben Greer, Vice President
Jessica Prue, Program Associate