Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation News December 2018

Happy Holidays from the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation team wishes a very happy holiday season to all our wonderful Lex Mundi member firms and partners! We are grateful for your support and continue to be humbled by the generosity and spirit exhibited by your pro bono contributions! Thank you for a wonderful year.  

Left to right: David Roll (Founder), Isis Bous (Managing Director), Chloe Holderness (Senior Advisor), and Andrew Morgan (Legal Program Director).

Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Outreach to Meet
Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs 

As part of the Foundation’s ongoing effort to expand its reach to social entrepreneurs operating around the globe, Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation staff recently met with social entrepreneur clients and collaborators in four countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia. 

Foundation staff participated in two social enterprise convenings, Echoing Green’s All Fellows Conference in Medellin, Colombia, and Opportunity Collaborations’ Global Forum in Cancun, Mexico where we held office hours and met with several collaborating organizations as well as dozens of new and returning social entrepreneurs. 

Attending Lex Mundi regional conferences hosted by Chiomenti in Rome, and Tilleke & Gibbins in Bangkok, also provided the Foundation staff great opportunities to meet with our wonderful supporting member firm lawyers as well as local social enterprises operating in the respective regions. A particular highlight of the Asia/Pacific Regional Conference was meeting Thailand’s “father of social enterprise,” Mechai Viravaidya, who was recently featured as one of Bill Gates’ “Heroes in the Field.” Mr. Varavaidya addressed conference attendees and shared a moving presentation on his latest efforts to innovate rural education in Thailand. As might be expected, Mr. Viravaidya stole the show with his presentation being a frequent topic of conversation amongst conference attendees. Mr. Viravaidya is a shining example of how social entrepreneurs have a sustainable impact in their communities.

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation is looking forward to continuing our outreach to inspiring organizations around the globe to leverage the power of the Lex Mundi network to provide critical pro bono legal services to the world’s leading social entrepreneurs!
Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Legal Program Director, Andrew Morgan, with Mechai Viravaidya, Thailand’s “father of social enterprise” in Bangkok.

 The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Hosts Two New
Legal Clinics for Social Entrepreneurs

New legal clinics for social entrepreneurs were developed by two Lex Mundi member firms in conjunction with the Foundation in recent months. Lawyers from Womble Bond Dickinson LLP (USA, North Carolina) and Morrison & Foerster LLP (USA, California) co-hosted webinars with the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation on topics of critical importance to our social entrepreneur clients. 

The first webinar centered on intellectual property issues facing social enterprises. Womble Bond Dickinson lawyers, Dan Ovanezian and Laura Kees presented on copyright, trademark, and patent issues and answered detailed questions from the social entrepreneurs that participated. The attendees were also provided a guidance document on intellectual property written earlier this year for the Foundation by Womble Bond Dickinson lawyers Kees, Ovanezian, Christine Beaman Rankin and Chris Kokoska. 

The second webinar focused on “hybrid”  corporate entity structures – a topic of rapidly growing interest amongst social entrepreneurs. Jesse Finfrock, a corporate lawyer in Morrison & Foerster’s Social Enterprise + Impact Investing group and an expert on the topic, provided an in-depth summary of the intricacies involved in this complex structure and answered several questions from the social enterprise organizations in attendance. “Everything we do can be improved and corporate structures are no exception,” Finfrock said. “It is always inspiring when social entrepreneurs come together to question the status quo and build the infrastructure for a better world.”

Individuals from 26 unique social enterprises attended the two clinics and gave high reviews of the materials and information provided. One such review came from Kate Venezia, Director of Operations at digitalundivided, an organization that promotes economic empowerment for women of color through entrepreneurship, who said: “I very much enjoyed the webinar - it was incredibly helpful!” 

We look forward to holding more clinics on these and other topics in the new year.

Thank You to the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation’s Member Firm Hosts 

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation is extremely fortunate to receive support from Lex Mundi and its member firms. This support comes to the Foundation in the form of donations, pro bono contributions, and other in-kind backing. Throughout its history, for example, the Foundation has greatly benefited from member firms generously providing it office space. From the Foundation’s inception until the firm’s recent remodel, the Lex Mundi member firm for the District of Columbia, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, donated offices to several members of the Foundation’s staff. Now, Baker Botts L.L.P., the Lex Mundi member firm for Texas, is generously providing the Foundation with the space it needs in its Washington, D.C. office. The Foundation is grateful for the warmth and generosity of both its prior and current hosts!