2023 Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Awardees
Isis Bous, Managing Director of the Foundation, had the privilege of recognizing the winners of the 14th Annual Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation Awards at the 2023 Lex Mundi Connect + Collaborate Annual Conference in San Francisco. These awards honor Lex Mundi law firms that have provided critical pro bono support to some of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. The five winners are:
Clarke Gittens Farmer (Barbados)
Davis Graham & Stubbs (US, Colorado)
Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie (Nigeria)
Left to right: Chad Williams, Gillian Clarke, Kristin Lentz, Isis Bous, Mirella Batungbacal, Aniekan Ukpanah, Christoph Lang
With high-caliber legal support, social impact organizations can scale faster, serve more people, and ultimately have greater impact. This year’s winners supported organizations addressing everything from energy poverty in the healthcare setting to methane emissions from cows. You can learn more about their work here. On behalf of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and the countless people touched by your support, thank you!
Ensuring No Woman Delivers in the Dark
Hundreds of thousands of health facilities around the world lack reliable electricity. Dr. Laura Stachel, Co-founder and CEO of We Care Solar, witnessed firsthand the devastating impact this has on public health, including maternal healthcare. Without power, nighttime deliveries occur in near darkness and cesarean sections are often canceled or conducted using flashlights. When health workers cannot see, they inevitably struggle to provide care. Every year, 300,000 mothers and more than one million newborns die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Dr. Stachel and her team are fighting to change these heartbreaking statistics and save lives.
They developed the We Care Solar Suitcase, a rugged, compact, system that provides last-mile health workers with reliable lighting, mobile communication, and medical devices using solar electricity.
The We Care Solar team envisions a world where all women survive and give birth with dignity in well-lit facilities. To date, they have equipped 8,200 health facilities with Solar Suitcases and these numbers are growing. In 2022, We Care Solar launched their Light Every Birth initiative in Nigeria. They approached the Foundation seeking assistance registering their international NGO in the country, and the attorneys at Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie (UUBO) quickly stepped in to help.
Amy Donhauser, Director of Global Programs, said “We do not take for granted this opportunity to work with UUBO in Nigeria. For a non-profit organization, top-tier legal services can be prohibitively expensive, but we know they can also make all the difference when establishing a presence in a new country. The team at UUBO offers detailed and complete guidance with clear communication, demonstrating their deep expertise.”
Support from UUBO has allowed We Care Solar to expand their reach in Nigeria, where they are working with partners and government to scale their impact using a state-by-state approach. They are currently partnering with Kebbi State to reach rural, off-grid health centers providing maternal and child health services. Together, they are working to ensure that no woman has to deliver in the dark!
Lex Mundi Recognized at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Lex Mundi was awarded the Catalyst Business Commitment (“CBC”) Platinum badge at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, following the work of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.
This meeting convenes leaders from government, business, and civil society to address current global affairs and discuss priorities for the year ahead. Catalyst 2030 publicly launched the CBC initiative during a session on Unlocking the Social Economy, as a way to recognize corporations that demonstrate exemplary business practices in support of social enterprise.
Each of the awardees works with mission-locked social enterprises to meet ESG targets, achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and ultimately benefit people and the planet. Through the Foundation, Lex Mundi member firms have supported over 1,000 social entrepreneurs across 109 countries on more than 2,000 matters.
The Platinum badge is the CBC’s highest honor and Lex Mundi received the award alongside five other companies: eBay, Microsoft, SAP, EY, and Compass Diversified. The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation is incredibly grateful to the Lex Mundi attorneys who use their skills and expertise to support social entrepreneurs and advance the social enterprise movement. This award is a testament to your hard work, generosity, and commitment to making the world a better place! You can view the official press release and award announcement here.
Unleashing the Full Potential of Scientists Worldwide
Scientists across the developing world work on the frontlines of challenges to the health and well-being of their communities. However, while great minds exist everywhere, resources do not. Seeding Labs was founded on the premise that unleashing the full potential of scientists worldwide is our best hope for fighting diseases, feeding our growing population, and protecting our planet. They work to strengthen the scientific infrastructure for the least-resourced communities through their Instrumental Access program.
Instrumental Access connects universities and research institutes with high-quality lab equipment and supplies from Seeding Labs’ community of donors. To date, they have delivered 351 tons of lab equipment across 39 countries, which would have cost an estimated $47 million to replace. These donations have given 155,000 undergraduate students expanded hands-on educational opportunities, allowed 2,700 research staff and faculty to accelerate their work, and resulted in $11.8 million in new funding to support research and teaching.
While these numbers are incredibly impressive, Seeding Labs wants to do more. They approached the Foundation as they sought to expand their work and donor community across the EU. To this end, Houthoff graciously agreed to provide guidance on establishing a new entity in the Netherlands. These conversations also gave us an opportunity to discuss the long-standing support provided by Foley Hoag. The Foundation first connected Seeding Labs with Foley Hoag in 2008 and the firm has remained a steadfast partner and resource over the past fifteen years.
When speaking with Dr. Melissa Wu, CEO of Seeding Labs, she shared well over twenty examples of matters Foley Hoag has handled, ranging from contract negotiations to intellectual property maintenance. She noted the list wasn’t comprehensive, because the relationship with Foley Hoag predated her time with the organization stating, “That, in itself, is a testament to how strong the partnership has been!”
We cannot thank the team at Houthoff, or the many Foley Hoag attorneys who provided support over the years, enough! When scientists have access to the right tools, it can make all the difference!