The Foundation team has been busy traveling, presenting, attending events, and connecting with incredible social entrepreneurs and attorneys in Q4 2022. We had the opportunity to meet the newest cohort of MIT Solvers in New York, 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. These events culminated in the Lex Mundi 2022 Americas Conference in Miami, where well over 100 Lex Mundi attorneys from around the world convened in person.
During the conference, the Foundation invited Carolina Garcia Jayaram from The Elevate Prize Foundation, one of the Foundation’s collaborators, and Dr. Chad Bernstein, founder of Guitars over Guns, to host a session.
They engaged in a dialogue around the wide-ranging legal needs of social entrepreneurs and emphasized how critical pro bono legal support can be to early-stage social enterprises’ success. Chad noted that attorneys can be instrumental in “removing the roadblocks between inspiration and impact.” We are incredibly grateful that Carolina and Chad were able to speak directly to the Lex Mundi community and demonstrate how lawyers can help social entrepreneurs change the world!
Earlier this year, Morrison & Foerster LLP (member firm for USA, California) connected the Foundation with SolarBuddy, an impact organization originally established in Australia and built on the principle that all children should have access to clean, reliable, and safe energy.
Extreme energy poverty is a widespread, but often overlooked, form of poverty that affects everything from health and well-being to educational outcomes. SolarBuddy is addressing the crisis through a two-pronged approach, which includes gifting millions of solar devices to children in need while simultaneously educating and inspiring people to become agents of change to end energy poverty by 2030. The SolarBuddy team realized that to achieve this goal, they needed to expand the organization’s footprint. So, after a 2021 expansion to the United States, Europe and India were next.
Through the Foundation and with Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick (member firm for Belgium) serving as the project lead, more than ten Lex Mundi member firms utilized the Lex Mundi Equisphere platform to provide wide-ranging, cross-jurisdictional, support. Each advised on scaling operations in their respective countries and in many cases assisted with entity formation. Joanna Cantwell, Chief Development Officer at SolarBuddy, noted, “Meeting the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation has been a game changer for SolarBuddy. The Foundation and the member firms’ skill and dedication has enabled us to move at the scale and pace so essential to our mission. We consider these critical partnerships in the fight to end extreme energy poverty.”
The Foundation team would like to thank the many attorneys who participated in this project, including those from: Arendt & Medernach (Luxembourg); Arthur Cox (Ireland and Northern Ireland); Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. (France); Houthoff (Netherlands); Kromann Reumert (Denmark); Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick (Belgium); Morrison & Foerster LLP (USA, California); Pestalozzi (Switzerland); Roschier, Attorneys Ltd. (Finland); Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (India); Advokatfirmaet Thommessen AS (Norway); and Advokatfirman Vinge KB (Sweden).
Public Health in a Time of War
Creating a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life is the driving mission of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), a leading public health non-profit working to address key global health challenges. The importance of their mission became starkly evident when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
MSH has worked in partnership with the Government of Ukraine for years to implement its Safe, Affordable, and Effective Medicines (SAFEMed) for Ukrainians Activity.
SAFEMed works to strengthen the country’s pharmaceutical sector and ensure patients have access to lifesaving medicines. The war severely damaged medical facilities and disrupted the flow of medicine and medical supplies throughout the country. In addition to continuing existing SAFEMed operations, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health asked MSH to provide technical support to help deliver a substantial portion of the humanitarian aid arriving from Europe and North America. MSH and the SAFEMed team have been able to sustain their work in part by evacuating some staff members to third countries. But, from the outset, it was imperative that these individuals were able to work remotely to preserve the continuity of essential health services.
Lex Mundi member firms graciously provided extensive and critical pro bono support to ensure continued operations. Jenner & Block LLP (USA, Illinois) initially connected MSH with the Foundation which quickly recruited Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic & Krka Law Firm (Croatia); Burness Paull LLP (Scotland); Morrison & Foerster LLP (USA, California); Wardynski & Partners (Poland); Houthoff (Netherlands); and Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP (Canada, Alberta) to assist. These firms advised MSH on the laws in their respective jurisdictions relating to the relocation and employment of Ukrainian evacuees. In doing so, they helped to minimize disruptions, allowing the SAFEMed team to focus on their mission. We are incredibly grateful to the Lex Mundi attorneys who volunteered and to MSH and the SAFEMed team for their tireless commitment to, and support of, the Ukrainian people.
The Extreme Challenge of Modern Slavery
Last month, a delegation of Lex Mundi staff, attorneys from our member firms in Mexico (Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C.) and Germany (Noerr), and a client (First Solar) joined Hope For Justice/Slave Free Alliance to embark on an extreme challenge to raise awareness and funding for an incredibly important cause.
The team took part in a grueling trek across Patagonia, hiking 20-25 km daily through fierce winds, ice covered trails, and persistent rains to fundraise for Hope for Justice and shine a light on both the existence and prevalence of modern-day slavery.
Footage from their journey and insights from the participants about their motivations during the climb are both beautiful and moving.
Today, more than 150 years after passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, an estimated 403,000 people live under conditions of modern-day slavery in the United States. This is just a portion of the estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide. In the face of this grim reality, Hope for Justice, a global charity, is working to end slavery once and for all by preventing exploitation, rescuing victims, restoring lives, and reforming society. The not-for-profit also wholly owns the international social enterprise Slave-Free Alliance, which helps organizations protect their operations, supply chains, and people from modern slavery and labor exploitation. All profits from Slave-Free Alliance are invested into Hope for Justice and its many programs.
After meeting Hope for Justice’s CEO, Tim Nelson, the Foundation team helped to coordinate the Patagonia trek and has facilitated connections between member firms, Hope for Justice, and the Slave-Free Alliance. Most recently, attorneys at Advokatfirmaet Thommessen AS (Norway) provided extensive pro bono support as the Slave-Free Alliance expanded into their jurisdiction. Norway recently enacted the Transparency Act, which requires large organizations to carry out human rights due diligence across their operations. In light of this new legislation, the Slave-Free Alliance, which is comprised of specialists in global supply chains and offers services ranging from site assessments to gap analyses, can serve as an invaluable tool as companies examine their practices and work to eliminate labor exploitation.
We are truly humbled by and grateful for Hope for Justice, Slave-Free Alliance, and the members of the Lex Mundi community that have supported them over the course of the past year. Together, we can finally make slavery a thing of the past!