Pro bono work from Linklaters and Thomson Reuters ushers in new era in Liberian law
Thomson Reuters, in partnership with global law firm Linklaters LLP, recently completed a pro bono project for Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB), a not-for-profit organization with centers in the US, UK, and Kenya, that supports global justice sector capacity building through training, observation, technical support, and access to justice initiatives. LWOB fulfills its mission, in part, by harnessing and structuring pro bono resources and contributions from lawyers and law firms around the world.
The project initiated with volunteer lawyers from Linklaters providing index and summaries covering over 3,700 of Liberia’s cases from the 1860s to the present. As a result of a five-year multi-party effort, judges and lawyers are now able to access, consider and build upon Liberian case precedent and can reinstitute the foundation that was abruptly abandoned during the period of political upheaval and civil wars under former president Charles Taylor. A case digest and index have been published and hard copies have been distributed to every judge throughout the cities and rural areas of Liberia, including the Law School in Monrovia, and the US embassy in Liberia. Continued national electricity and internet connectivity access issues are currently delaying the longer-term goal of making the digest and index available online.
Lawyers Without Borders secured seed project underwriting from the World Bank, and enlisted the publishing support of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters assisted with creating the organizational structure of the digest, designed the digest cover to match the cover style of Thomson Reuters prominent National Reporter Series, and printed the publication. Last month, Thomson Reuters provided pro bono printing for the first set of pocket parts published for the digest.
According to Sharon Sayles Belton, vice president of Government Affairs and Community Relations for Thomson Reuters, this initiative is especially pertinent given the celebration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. “We are committed to promoting the rule of law and access to legal services,” she said. “We are proud to have contributed to a project to assist the people and the legal community in Liberia.”
Thomson Reuters also is working with LWOB to develop e-learning materials so that legal training can be delivered as Liberia continues to address health concerns related to the Ebola virus.