Pro Bono Spotlight: Volunteer Attorneys Fight Climate Change, Advocate for Animal Protection
From championing the fight against climate change to advocating for animal protection, Thomson Reuters attorneys are volunteering to provide pro bono legal services worldwide. The company’s commitment to pro bono legal work includes efforts of Practical Law editors as well as employees involved with groups like the Pro Bono Connection-New York committee.
Two Thomson Reuters attorneys who use their paid volunteer hours to work pro bono for non-profit organizations recently shared some of their perspectives and experiences on pro bono legal work with Legal Current.
Stephanie Jeshiva, editor-in-chief of Practical Law The Journal: Transactions & Business, Thomson Reuters, and member of the Pro Bono Connection-New York committee, recently brought together attorney colleagues to volunteer with the Animal Defense Partnership (ADP), a non-profit animal welfare organization.
“I came to ADP as a volunteer attorney because I was interested in doing pro bono legal work in support of animal-related causes,” Jeshiva explained.
She said volunteer attorneys conducted research and drafted legal memos on state ag-gag laws, which aim to prevent whistleblowers from exposing inhumane treatment of animals, as well as other practices implicating food safety, workers’ rights and environmental issues.
“We certainly brushed up on our legal research and drafting skills!” Jeshiva said. “The team delivered memos on the laws of 11 states and collectively logged over 100 pro bono hours – a truly impressive effort. It is inspiring to see how many people took time out of their busy lives to work on this project. It is also really wonderful to work for a company that actively supports and encourages pro bono legal work and volunteerism.”
On the other side of the pond, Becky Clissmann, environmental law editor at Thomson Reuters Practical Law, is involved with The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP), a collaborative effort of lawyers worldwide working to develop new contracts and model laws to help fight climate change.
A member of the TCLP steering group who lives in Ireland, Clissmann supported TCLP’s 24-hour global hackathon in 2020 to create new contracts and model laws. The hackathon united more than 200 lawyers, who created 100 drafting ideas that will inform important climate-focused legal briefs.
Now, the group’s focus is on publishing a Net Zero Toolkit ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.
“TCLP are running a series of sector and practice area focused events that are aligned with COP26 and the UN’s Race to Zero,” Clissmann explained. “So far, TCLP have held events focused on drafting climate solutions for land and agriculture, and real estate. Over the coming weeks, TCLP’s events will focus on climate-conscious drafting for the finance, insurance, water and shipping sectors. The drafting from these events will be part of TCLP’s Net Zero Toolkit, which will help Race to Zero participants and any other organizations setting Net Zero targets to ensure their legal agreements are aligned with those targets.”
TCLP recently announced the publication of 21 new clauses and three new model laws, bringing the total number of free clauses to 71. Developed by 700 lawyers from 140 organizations, the clauses are freely available to law firms, corporations and governments worldwide, and they cover a wide range of practice areas, subject matters and agreement types.
Clissmann noted that Thomson Reuters has committed to incorporating this wording into Practical Law resources.
To learn more about Thomson Reuters pro bono legal work, check out the 2020 Social Impact Report.