Climbing Mountains and Breaking Records, 2022 in Review
Reflecting on last year’s achievements has been joyful and humbling – from thought leadership and scaling mountains to breaking records, 2022 was filled with great success. First and foremost, thanks to the generosity and support of Lex Mundi attorneys, 2022 was the Foundation’s best year yet!
Last year alone, 84 member firms handled 232 projects on behalf of 130 social entrepreneurs worldwide. This means that since inception, 132 firms have worked on over 2,000 projects for more than 1,000 social entrepreneurs impacting 107 countries.
In addition to these impressive numbers, Lex Mundi member firms have continued to champion social enterprises and the social entrepreneurship movement at large. First, the Global Social Enterprise Policy Report, drafted by Morrison & Foerster LLP (USA, California) with the support of more than 60 additional member firms, circulated globally. It reached key policymakers worldwide and was cited in several whitepapers, including two written by The World Economic Forum and The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) respectively. Further, when the war in Ukraine erupted, our member firms mobilized to support the Ukrainian people by creating a Ukraine Crisis Toolkit. Just months later, with the support of the Foundation, a delegation of Lex Mundi staff, member attorneys, and clients embarked on a grueling trek across Patagonia on behalf of Hope for Justice. While hiking 20-25 km daily through fierce winds, ice-covered trails, and persistent rain, they were able to fundraise and build awareness around the prevalence of modern-day slavery.
As all these initiatives and projects were happening, the Foundation staff and member attorneys (at the Foundation’s request) continued to host webinars, sit on panels, and otherwise present to social entrepreneurs at convenings around the world. In addition to attending Lex Mundi conferences and summits in Dubai, New York, Miami, and Edinburgh, we had the opportunity to attend MIT Solve in Cambridge, participated in the Opportunity Collaboration summit in the Dominican Republic, presented virtually to Foundation collaborators including Halcyon, SOCAP, and Echoing Green, and attended the AARP Purpose Prize celebration honoring Purpose Prize winners and fellows. The Foundation intends to carry this momentum forward into 2023 as it explores relationships with new partners and global impact leaders.
Finally, we were pleased to roll out a brand-new look heading into the new year! In addition to the recently redesigned website, we have updated the Foundation’s logo, branding, and color scheme to complement the impressive media and marketing rollout by Lex Mundi. We’re excited for everything to come and incredibly grateful for the hundreds of attorneys who volunteered their time, energy, and expertise in 2022. It has truly made a difference!
An Incubator for Reform-Minded Officers Reflects on Tyre Nichols
The death of Tyre Nichols is a devastating reminder of the work required to reshape policing in the United States. Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and Day Pitney LLP (USA, New Jersey) client, New Blue, is working on tackling the issue from the inside. As an incubator for reform-minded officers and their ideas, New Blue identifies officers who demonstrate a desire to reimagine law enforcement and are dedicated to the pursuit of social equity and racial justice.
The organization provides participants with the network, funding, and skills to develop long-term solutions in policing. The year-long fellowship supports participants in identifying problems, workshopping systemic solutions with the community, and analyzing success. In the wake of Tyre Nichols’s death, New Blue released a statement saying,
“[Public safety] is a crisis created by a broken and inequitable system fueled by a culture deeply rooted in an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Problematic police culture starts with an insidious cycle of socialization that trains officers to fear for their lives in every interaction. New Blue calls for the promotion of leaders willing to spark reform from within the system. We need chiefs who advocate for forward-thinking officers and encourage innovative solutions to address community concerns. We need to recruit officers who believe policing is a profound responsibility to keep your community safe and well, not a mandate to carry out punitive policies and practices by any means necessary. We need less militaristic training and more investment in practices rooted in building trust with the community. We can fix this. And it starts with recognizing change agents in the field and implementing solutions to problematic practices.”
Last year, New Blue came to the Foundation seeking support with the organization’s governance structure and reviewing its bylaws. Day Pitney was quick to volunteer to assist, not only with the requested matters but also with additional needs that came up after the connection. We are grateful for the work New Blue is doing to address systemic problems with policing and to Day Pitney for supporting their organization so they can expand their reach and increase their impact!
A Vision for Resilience in the Caribbean
Over the years, rising sea levels, warming oceans, ecosystem loss, and catastrophic weather patterns have devastated small islands across the Caribbean. Despite having a very small carbon footprint, they are bearing the brunt of climate change. Dozens of international NGOs and other charities continue to provide humanitarian aid across the region.
But it has been difficult to mitigate the damage. One such organization, Mercy Corps, reevaluated their own emergency response programming after the catastrophic hurricane seasons of 2016 and 2017. Their leadership team realized that reactionary, short-term interventions were harder to mobilize and did little to prepare communities for the next disaster. In response, they developed a Caribbean Resilience Initiative aimed at identifying, sharing, and scaling successful resilience and risk reduction strategies across islands.
However, widespread deployment of the initiative meant navigating several new legal and regulatory environments. Allison Dworshak, Active Director of the Caribbean Resilience Initiative expressed that this, “can be a serious bottleneck for an NGO like ours,” and contacted the Foundation for support. The Foundation, in turn, connected Allison and her team with: Floissac, Du Boulay & Thomas (St. Lucia); Dudley, Topper and Feuerzeig LLP (U.S. Virgin Islands); Pellerano & Herrera (Dominican Republic) and Myers, Fletcher & Gordon (Jamaica) to facilitate the process.
Their assistance thus far has proved invaluable, with Mercy Corps sharing, “working with Lex Mundi member firms across the region has made us more nimble, more confident interacting with local governments, and allowed us to position for funding we might not have otherwise applied for.” We cannot thank our member firms enough for their support on this important work.
Adoptees Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Sheila Jaffe Give Back
Beyond their monumental successes in the entertainment industry, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Emmy Award-winning casting director Sheila Jaffe have one important thing in common. Both are adoptees. They also consider themselves incredibly lucky to have been “taken home.” Sadly, this isn’t the case for all children. In the U.S. today, there are over 400,000 children living in foster care and many will remain in the system. Oftentimes they are neglected and suffer from higher rates of mental health conditions like PTSD and depression.
Understanding this, McDaniels and Jaffe felt compelled to use their resources and shared experiences to give back. Together, they created The Felix Organization, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of children growing up in the foster care system. On top of year-round programming, they offer “Camp Felix” which encompasses five overnight camps and two day-camp programs.
This camp gives children the opportunity to be immersed in nature and build lasting friendships. In 2022, the Foundation connected The Felix Organization with Hawley Troxell (USA, Idaho) on a trademark matter – and the firm graciously provided assistance above and beyond the initial request.
Amanda Simonetta, Executive Director of The Felix Organization, shared, “As a small, grassroots nonprofit, we raise every penny to fund our programs for youth in foster care. Having the pro bono support of a world class firm like Hawley Troxell allows us to focus more time on what we do best- sending children in foster care to camp and providing enrichment opportunities to bring them hope and joy.”
Clearly, collaborations like these can make all the difference to small organizations with huge missions. We owe a massive thanks to the attorneys at Hawley Troxell and in the words of Amanda, “We honestly couldn’t do this work without friends like this in the community.”