The Centre was delighted to participate in the 2019 PILnet Global Forum in Singapore between 11-13 November 2019. The theme for this year’s forum was Engaging lawyers, Empowering Innovation, Enabling Change. There were over 30 sessions across three days aimed at engaging participants in thought-provoking discussions, learning from each other, and challenging all participants’ thinking in order to collectively grapple with the world’s biggest crises (including climate emergency, mass migration and growing inequality).
The forum was very well-attended, with over 300 participants attending from over a dozen countries. The Centre’s CEO, Gabriela Christian-Hare, attended along with Head of Policy & Strategy, Jessica Hatherall. Gabriela presented alongside Filip Czernicki, Warsaw Bar Association, Tanguy Lim, Law Society Pro Bono Services Singapore and Yannick Sala, Paris Bar Association with Tamas Barabas from PILnet as moderator on how bar associations, law societies and other professional organisations in different jurisdictions regulate and promote pro bono activities.
The focus of this year’s forum was to engage lawyers, empower innovation and enable change by bringing together hundreds of practitioners as a source of inspiration and motivation. It was the first year the Global Forum was held outside of Europe. Singapore was chosen as the perfect gathering point this year for PILnet to share with its partners and colleagues a forward-thinking vision of the role that law can play to become a force for good in our globalised world.
Lawyers from a number of local and global firms attended, including Allen & Overy, Allens, Ashurst, Clayton Utz, Clifford Chance, Dentons Australia, DLA Piper/New Perimeter, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Jones Day, King & Wood Mallesons, Russell Kennedy and White & Case. Announced at the forum was the launch of a new partnership between Justice Connect and PILnet. These organisations will be collaborating to create a new online platform that will connect vulnerable people and communities to free legal help which could potentially double the number of hours pro bono lawyers are working globally. More information about this collaboration can be found here.
The first day of the forum consisted of three separate global meetings: (1) law firm professionals, (2) pro bono clearinghouses and (3) in-house counsel pro bono professionals. This enabled each of these groups to benefit from the insights and expertise of their peers. The day concluded with a joint meeting where participants were able to share best practices, lessons learned, and to begin to foster new partnerships. The sessions across the next two days featured an incredible breadth of global expertise aimed at inspiring the legal profession to protect and advance the needs of vulnerable communities, equipping the legal community to develop tools and services, and encouraging inclusive, sustainable, strategic partnerships.
Highlights of the forum included a plenary talk with Sarah Belal, founder and director of Justice Project Pakistan, telling her story of how she began defending those facing the harshest of punishments, death row in Pakistan. You can learn her story first-hand on the TED talk entitled ‘Finding your dream job’ here. In addition, PILnet’s Global Awards were announced, recognising the best pro bono legal projects undertaken in a global context. Winners included Tog Lihua; Herbert Smith Freehills and UNHCR; and European Lawyers for Lesvos. More details can be found here.
The forum moves to a different city each year. The 2020 PILnet Global Forum will take place in Dublin, Ireland.