This post is a message from the 2013 AALL Annual Meeting and Conference. To read other posts in the series, click here, and watch for more content soon!

As a law librarian, you understand the responsibility inherent in your role as a steward of information.

By the same token, corporate responsibility is deeply-rooted in the ability of Thomson Reuters to perform as a global information technology organization.

At Thomson Reuters, we focus on corporate responsibility because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s good for business. For instance, our Legal business has a long-standing relationship with Books for Africa, a Minnesota-based charity that collects and ships library and educational books to African countries – more than 27 million texts since 1988. Through Thomson Reuters work with Books for Africa’s Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative, the business has donated and supported container shipments of 54 law and human rights libraries to law schools, NGO’s, and legal and human rights organizations in 16 African countries, including 15 new law libraries and more than 600 computers just last year.

Access to the law is a cornerstone of due process and equal justice, and rule of law is foundational for social, political and economic structures. So when you consider the impact these law libraries can have in supporting the rule of law in emerging nations on the African continent, you can see the business case for why we support initiatives such as these. With the rule of law, the institutions and systems that can support orderly markets, arbitrate disputes, and apply the law impartially and without bias take hold. As these countries modernize and with the emergence of the rule of law, so too come the opportunities for individuals and commercial interests.

A program in the United States similar to Books for Africa, the Thomson Reuters Do Justice program offers free or greatly subsidized access to Westlaw for use in pro bono cases. Here, the business supports the good work of its customers and helps them make a difference by helping the individuals and causes that they value most. Last year, we provided more than $28 million in Westlaw access through this program.

This spirit of corporate responsibility underscores how we manage our business: we actively invest in and manage what we hope our company will become, and we’re also stewards of what came before us. Consider the investment that the founders of the West Publishing Company made in a legal classification system generations ago. Today, that system is helping to support transparency, equal justice and the rule of law in emerging nations in Africa – certainly an outcome that no one could have predicted at the time.

We can hope that the business decisions we make today will make as profound an impact in the years to come.

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