Pro bono


Allen & Overy has one of the largest global networks of any major law firm. Our pro bono and community investment program uses the skills and time of our people around the world to find solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues. We coordinate initiatives in our New York and Washington DC offices through a U.S. Pro Bono Program, which is an integral part of our global Pro Bono Practice.

Getting involved in pro bono and community work gives our people the chance to share their knowledge and experience on large multi-jurisdictional projects, or through the local programs our offices run. Our programs vary from community to community to reflect local cultures and priorities. Whatever the location, we try to create opportunities to use the skills of our people in the most effective way, whether they’re lawyers or professional support staff.

We often combine our volunteering efforts with financial backing in the form of grants from the Allen & Overy Foundation to give charities and non-profit organizations a comprehensive package of support.

We also partner with a wide range of organizations to achieve the best results: for example with schools and colleges on high quality work experience programs, or leading human rights organizations to provide access to justice around the world.

We work hard to achieve the same levels of excellence in our pro bono and community investment work as in everything else we do. We have some of the smartest and most capable people at A&O, and we use their skills and experience to best effect.

Below are some of the areas of pro bono and community investment that our attorneys are involved in:

Lawyers in the New York office have partnered with Her Justice on a wide range of cases involving family and immigration matters.  Her Justice is an organization that primarily provides free legal services to low-income women in New York City that have been the victims of domestic violence or abuse.  In one recent successful case, A&O acted for SP, an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic living in New York with two young children. SP suffered physical and emotional abuse from her US-citizen husband, who used her immigration status as a means of control.  In the interest of gaining independence and protection, battered spouses are permitted to file immigration petitions under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) without the abuser’s knowledge. A&O submitted a successful VAWA self-petition on SP’s behalf, under which she received work authorization and later a green card.  The case was particularly challenging because the client’s illegal entry into the US required a waiver of inadmissibility.

A&O is currently working on a number of cases with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).  IRAP organizes law students and lawyers to advocate for the legal and human rights of refugees and displaced persons by mobilizing direct legal aid and systemic policy advocacy. Ongoing client cases include the representation of a gay Jordanian man who is HIV positive and faces persecution because of his sexual orientation, two gay Iraqi refugees in Turkey who are under threat due to their sexual orientation, a Christian Iraqi refugee in Lebanon who is seeking to be reunited with family members in the United States, and a US-affiliated Iraqi who was previously admitted to the U.S. as a refugee but became stranded abroad and who is seeking humanitarian parole to re-enter the United States.  The humanitarian parole case was successful, and the family of the US-affiliated Iraqi now hopes to obtain travel documents in order to travel to safety in the United States.

We partnered with Advocates for International Development (A4ID) to develop an online tool to help charities and NGOs identify their legal needs and access pro bono advice.  A4ID’s Online Legal Health Check uses multiple choice questions, each evaluating a different area of an organization’s operations, such as employment, data protection and risk management, to produce an automated written report. The report provides legal guidance and can be downloaded for future reference or used to source pro bono legal advice on any of the issues identified through A4ID’s broker service. You can read more here

A&O’s current Global Charity Partner is War Child, an international charity that works to protect, educate and stand up for the rights of children caught up in war.  As with all our global charity partners, War Child was chosen by A&O staff in a worldwide vote, in which over 2,500 people took part.  Our two-year partnership began in November 2016 with the aim of supporting War Child’s Rescue Childhood program and raising enough money to fully fund a child-friendly space in one of Jordan’s largest refugee camps. We also committed to providing significant pro bono, skills-based volunteering and in-kind support to the charity as a whole. This facility will enable War Child to provide trauma counseling, education and creative therapy to 2,000 of the most severely traumatized Syrian child refugees. Thanks to the generosity of people worldwide across A&O, we have already succeeded in reaching our GBP 500,000 target for War Child. Our new target is to raise GBP 1 million. You can see a video about our project here

In 2014-16, Allen & Overy chose Amref Health Africa, Africa’s leading health development organization, as our Global Charity Partner. A&O’s contribution of GBP 1.72 million in fundraising, pro bono advice and in-kind support was underpinned by the largest pro bono project delivered for a global charity partner. A team of 30 lawyers and support staff, led by Elaine Johnston in the New York office, developed a toolkit and training program to help Amref advocate for change in sexual and reproductive health across Tanzania, from community level right up to Government.

We also reach out to communities worldwide through arts, education, and charity initiatives. Every summer, Allen & Overy gives 75 students from state schools access to a high-quality work experience program in our London office. In 2016, we extended our scheme to India and South Africa, giving disadvantaged young people there an opportunity to gain a valuable insight into how the world of business works.