Schillings announces pro bono partnership on two important international projects

05 October 2019

As a premier law firm on the cutting edge of protecting and defending the fundamental human right to be free from unfair attacks on privacy and reputation, Schillings’ work often benefits the public good, not just the interests of our individual clients. As part of our core mission to advance and protect this right, we recognise our corresponding responsibility to ensure that justice is not rationed by ability to pay, thus we endeavour to do pro bono work that has a significant impact on the rights of vulnerable people and allows us to use our unique skillsets from privacy law, cyber, the military and government, intelligence and investigations to their benefit.

Schillings is excited to announce our pro bono partnership on two important projects that have wide-ranging impact:

1. We have partnered with the Freedom Fund, a leader in the global movement to end modern slavery, to improve their cyber and physical security resilience. The Freedom Fund supports frontline efforts to end slavery – requiring reporting from some of the world’s most hostile regions. The security of their people – and their data – is critical to their mission, particularly as they expand their efforts to ensure that human traffickers cannot profit from goods made from forced labour. In close consultation with the organisation, our team worked swiftly to identify critical risks within their current cyber security structure and helped to devise a dedicated strategy to protect their people and their work. We are proud of the Freedom Fund’s results. This week, they, with Humanity United, announced that thanks to their work and reporting, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection has just issued orders blocking the import of rubber gloves from Malaysia, artisanally-mined gold from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), rough diamonds from Zimbabwe, and bone back from Brazil – all due to concerns they were produced with forced labour.

2. Malawi authorities are working hard to combat organised wildlife crime, endangering elephants, rhinos, hippos and pangolin among other species. Wildlife crime not only harms the ecosystem, but also society through the invasion of crime networks and corruption. Traffickers are at the root of the problem, as they create a market for poaching. In 2016, Malawi was confirmed as Southern Africa's principal transit route for wildlife traffickers. Malawi has shown its strength and resolve in fighting this. A total of 40 traffickers have so far been arrested this year in Malawi. Ten are Chinese nationals. Their cases are currently going through the courts.

Schillings is partnering with wildlife NGOs who are campaigning to support the Malawian Government in keeping these cases in the international spotlight, to ensure justice is served, and to protect the security of their advocates.

These examples highlight just two of Schillings efforts to promote the rule of law through enhanced privacy and security. This work builds on the good work done earlier this year with the Children’s Commissioner on protecting online privacy in a digital age. We collaborated with the Children’s Commissioner to take steps to simplify the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) of social media platforms and also establish a new ground-breaking Model Law for online service providers and their interactions with children. In calling on social media providers to do more to protect young people online, we are helping to raise awareness amongst governments and authorities, young people and parents. With lawyers often criticised for overcomplicating matters with legal jargon, we boldly went against our inherent legal DNA to re-write simplified T&Cs.

Schillings has been shorted for the Law Society’s Excellence Award for Pro Bono for this work. Law Society president Simon Davis said: “There are more than 140,000 solicitors in England and Wales – to be shortlisted for an Excellence Award is to be recognised as among the very best of the profession. “The firms and solicitors shortlisted should be commended for going above and beyond to support their clients, often navigating tricky and sometimes contentious areas of the law.

“With the justice system so under strain, we should take this opportunity to celebrate the incredible work solicitors do day-in and day-out – and to recognise the immense contribution they make to our society.”

Winners are announced at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards ceremony in London on 23 October 2019.

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