News on Purpose

Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Leading the Way in Support for Social Entrepreneurs: The Rise Ahead Pledge and Corporate Social Innovation Compass

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation is honored to be one of the original thirteen signatories of the Rise Ahead Pledge and proud to assert its continued commitment to social entrepreneurs. The Rise Ahead Pledge was launched by the Schwab Foundation and Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. This new initiative is meant to mobilize the private sector’s commitment to social innovation. Today, it is clear that the path to a more sustainable and equitable future requires collaborative and concerted action, including greater involvement from the private sector. Social entrepreneurs are working tirelessly on creative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

However, it is estimated that social enterprises globally require an estimated $1.125 trillion in funding to meet their goals. The signatories of the pledge have made a commitment to address this need through financial or non-financial support. Other signatories include, without limitation, Microsoft, SAP, EY, and the Bayer Foundation.

The launch of the Rise Ahead Pledge was accompanied by a comprehensive report, The Corporate Social Innovation Compass: Accelerating Impact through Social Enterprise Partnerships, which was developed through a collaboration between the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship, Deloitte, and the Schwab Foundation. The report provides eleven mechanisms to guide companies in their partnerships with social innovators. Isis Bous, our Managing Director, was interviewed for the report, and we’re thrilled to announce the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation was featured as a case study.

When Dave Roll established the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation in 2006, he was an early advocate of supporting social enterprises and a pioneer in bringing transactional pro bono legal assistance to social entrepreneurs. Today, nearly twenty years later, Lex Mundi and the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation are proud to serve as an example to others and to remain at the forefront of this transformative movement.

Increasing Access to Assistive Technology

For the millions of Americans living with disabilities, access to assistive technology (“AT”) can be transformative. From adaptive vehicles to smart-home technology, AT fosters independence and improves daily living. The use of AT can break down barriers to communication, emotional connection, mobility, education, employment and so much more.

However, despite its incredible benefits, not everyone has access to assistive technology. Health insurance typically does not cover the entire cost, and traditional funding options often come with strict eligibility requirements, cumbersome application processes, and daunting waiting lists.

When Susan Tachau’s son was diagnosed with a disability, she committed herself to disability empowerment. In 1998, she co-founded the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (“PATF”), a non-profit that brings critical assistive technology to people across Pennsylvania. PATF offers no-interest and low-interest loans for assistive technology to individuals of all income levels, ages, communities, and backgrounds. Additionally, the organization provides financial education through a specialized curriculum for individuals with disabilities, as well as information about other funding resources and vendors. Unlike traditional lenders, PATF has flexible loan eligibility guidelines. They also strive to establish a personal relationship with each applicant and craft manageable repayment terms. PATF is the nation’s largest alternative fundraising program (“AFP”) and has sourced additional funding as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (“CDFI”).

The Foundation first met Susan after she was selected as a winner of the prestigious AARP Purpose Prize, which honors extraordinary people ages 50 and older who are using their life experiences to build a better future. Initially, she approached the Foundation with a request to review PATF’s bylaws, and attorneys at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (USA, Indiana) quickly jumped in to assist. But Susan’s desire to help didn’t stop at Pennsylvania. She soon came back to the Foundation as she sought to expand the organization’s reach and serve more people in neighboring states. To this end, she founded the Appalachian Assistive Technology Loan Fund (“AATLF”), a subsidiary of PATF.

The Foundation connected Susan with the team at Stites & Harbison, PLLC (USA, Kentucky) as she began working in Kentucky. Attorneys at the firm provided guidance on expanding into the state and advised on whether AATLF would need to register with the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions.

Soon thereafter, the Foundation connected Susan and her team with attorneys at Jenner & Block LLP (USA, Illinois) to review, edit, and update AATLF’s bylaws, which was necessary for their expansion. The attorneys also generously reviewed PATF’s bylaws, given the recent changes within the organization. As a result of having the bylaws reviewed, they are now able to do microlending as a Community Development Financial Institution in Kentucky, as well as Pennsylvania, and were able to apply for a $1.2 million grant from the CDFI Fund through the U.S. Treasury.

Susan emphasized the crucial role of pro bono legal support in the organization’s growth, acknowledging the invaluable contributions from Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Stites & Harbison, PLLC, and Jenner & Block LLP.

Susan noted, “At a critical point in our organization’s development, the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation connected us with the legal expertise we needed but couldn’t afford – and didn’t know where to find it. With their help, we created a new subsidiary and have expanded our lending program for people with disabilities from Pennsylvania into the Appalachian region as a whole. Because of this expansion, within the first eight months, hundreds of people with disabilities have been able to obtain an interest-free loan, with no fees, to buy the assistive technology they need.”

She stated that every attorney she worked with was incredibly responsive and helpful, providing very thorough and in-depth advice. Both Susan and the team at the Foundation are incredibly grateful for the generosity and support of the volunteer lawyers across these three Lex Mundi firms. It has been instrumental in advancing the organization’s mission and creating a brighter and more equitable future.

Arthur Cox, a Pro Bono Champion in Ireland

At Arthur Cox, pro bono is an integral part of the firm’s culture. They are committed to improving access to justice in Ireland, and the firm is a leading champion of pro bono across the country. Arthur Cox is a founding signatory to the Pro Bono Pledge Ireland, launched by the Minister for Justice in 2020, and serves some of the most vulnerable people in the community. By engaging in agile and impactful pro bono projects, attorneys across Arthur Cox are able to create positive change.

For example, in collaboration with NGO partners, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Irish Refugee Council, and the Legal Aid Board, the firm represents and advises people on applications for family reunification, the Afghan Assistance Programme, discretionary visas, and citizenship.

Through this pro bono support, Arthur Cox has successfully reunited 19 families who now live together in Ireland after spending many years apart. A client who they successfully represented on a family reunification matter commented, “I lost hope when I left my family in that situation [In Somalia] but now seeing my mom and my siblings it feels really incredible. The Arthur Cox team were there for any help they could give us, and their assistance was excellent.”

Arthur Cox is also a founding member of the Ukraine Ireland Legal Alliance, a human rights group dedicated to supporting Ukrainian people in Ireland. In 2023, Arthur Cox partnered with the UNHCR to support its immigration helpline and staffed legal clinics hosted by the Irish Red Cross to guide displaced Ukrainian people on their rights. Partnership with these organizations strengthens access to justice by providing essential legal information to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

While the firm is committed to helping individuals, they also work closely with NGOs and social enterprises to create opportunities for their partners to, in turn, help more people. A recent example of this is supporting the establishment of a refugee-led organization called United Women Galway, which aims to help women from minority groups to come together to celebrate and share their culture.

Over the years, Arthur Cox has also supported several organizations through the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation. Earlier this year, the Foundation connected Arthur Cox with Accion, a global non-profit working to improve the lives of underserved people by building innovative and responsible financial solutions. Attorneys at the firm were able to provide employment and charity law advice, thus advancing Accion’s important work around the world.

Arthur Cox is proud to partner with NGOs, charities and independent law centers delivering frontline legal services to those who need it most. Through these partnerships and the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation network, Arthur Cox attorneys have had a profound impact. At the Foundation, we are incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of the team at Arthur Cox. Their commitment to pro bono has undoubtedly inspired other firms in the region, and their work has uplifted individuals and communities both in Ireland and abroad.

Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Announces New Appointments to its Board of Directors

During the Lex Mundi Annual Connect & Collaborate Conference in London on May 10, 2024, Carlos Velázquez De León was elected as the new Chair of Lex Mundi and Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Foundation’s Board of Directors also elected Aniekan Ukpanah, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie (Nigeria), to the position of Chair-Elect and Christel Van den Eynden, Liedekerke (Belgium), as a new director. The three new members join the Foundation’s current directors in seeking to embody the highest ideals of the legal profession. By promoting and facilitating the delivery of pro bono legal services, they support those positively improving lives worldwide.

2024 Pro Bono Foundation Annual Award Winners

The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation (the “Foundation”) was proud to recognize the following 2024 award recipients:

  • Day Pitney LLP, Lex Mundi member for USA, New Jersey
  • Deacons, Lex Mundi member for Hong Kong
  • Dudley Newman Feuerzeig LLP, Lex Mundi member for U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Shalakany Law Office, Lex Mundi member for Egypt
  • Wardyński & Partners, Lex Mundi member for Poland


News on Purpose

In This Issue:

  • Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Leading the Way in Support for Social Entrepreneurs: The Rise Ahead Pledge and Corporate Social Innovation Compass
  • Increasing Access to Assistive Technology
  • Arthur Cox, a Pro Bono Champion in Ireland

News On Purpose

In This Issue

  • Another Banner Year, 2023 in Review
  • Activating Humanitarian Resources Near Rafah
  • Bringing Safe Water to Schools
  • New Canadian Bar Association President Leading By Example

Legal Resources to Support those Responding to Humanitarian Needs Near Rafah

In light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis near Rafah, our Lex Mundi member for Egypt, Shalakany, has generously provided high-level guidance for NGOs seeking to activate resources in the area.

Find answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the regulatory framework for incorporating a foreign NGO in Egypt?
  2. What are the challenges associated with the incorporation of a foreign NGO in Egypt?
  3. What are the available alternative forms of registration?

News on Purpose

In this Issue

  • Landmark UN Resolution on the Social Economy Passes with the Help of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and its Collaborators
  • Congratulations to Alfredo Silva, an Incredible Lex Mundi Member Lawyer and Champion
  • Afghan Musicians Find a New Home Thanks to Lex Mundi Member Law Firms