Thomson Reuters was among the companies recognized with the 2023 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award from the Pro Bono Institute (PBI) at its annual awards dinner on Oct. 16 in New York City. The award honored the Thomson Reuters partnership with Baker McKenzie for the Justice in Action project.

The Justice in Action project focuses on building community across industries, geographies, and cultures through pro bono. It addresses compelling social justice challenges around the globe through impactful research projects on behalf of nongovernmental organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

Helen Respass, senior managing editor, Practical Law, and co-chair of Thomson Reuters Global Pro Bono Program, was among the Thomson Reuters colleagues who attended the awards dinner. She talked with Legal Current about how she and her colleagues contributed to the Justice in Action project.

Legal Current: How has Thomson Reuters supported the Justice in Action project?

Respass: Thomson Reuters has collaborated with Baker McKenzie on quite a few Justice in Action Pro Bono sprints during the past two years. Over 100 of our volunteers across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA regions have tackled compelling social justice challenges related to racism, mental health, justice crossing borders, and child welfare. Our research projects have ranged from creating local guides for youth to understand their rights when interacting with police, to legal maps for LGBTQ+ youth on topics such as ability to contract, emancipation, public accommodations, and anti-discrimination laws.

Legal Current: What impact have the Thomson Reuters efforts made?

Respass: Our efforts help create capacity-building tools for vulnerable populations and others who need to understand the law. For example, during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we worked with Baker McKenzie to create Justice in Action sprints to support the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s (AALDEF) #StopAsianHate Project. Our volunteers researched U.S. and Canadian state, provincial, and local laws to help create Anti-Hate Crime Fact Sheets for community groups and victims of anti-Asian violence and harassment. I’m grateful to be part of an organization that recognizes the value of pro bono work and enables us to inform the way forward by giving back and creating positive change.

Legal Current: Why is it meaningful to you, personally, to be involved in pro bono work?

Respass: Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in different pro bono work, from research projects like these Justice in Action sprints, to matters helping non-profits set up and operate, to cases where I’ve represented asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors. No matter the type of project, it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to use my legal skills to be part of life-changing work that helps the most vulnerable in society find safety, economic security, and hope for the future. Pro bono work enables clients to succeed and restores dignity, hope, and control over their lives. And it allows me to step outside the routine tasks of my day job and reconnect with why I became a lawyer – to advocate for justice and equality and defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Legal Current: What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about the Justice in Action project?

Respass: We all have busy lives, so it can be hard to carve out time for pro bono. Justice in Action sprints are only four hours and include training! There is no pre-work or prior experience required. They are fun, accessible, bite-sized pro bono opportunities that really make a difference. These sprints also remind us that working together, we can be a force for positive change in the world.

For more information on the Justice in Action project and the 2023 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award, visit PBI’s website.

Photo caption: Thomson Reuters colleagues at the PBI dinner (L-R): Jennifer Adler, Matthew Hayes, Bevan Phillips, Emma Hunt, Samantha Biggio, Helen Respass.

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