In recognition of either a single law firm, in-house team or chambers or a wider association of law firms, this award will be given to those in the industry that have made the strongest overall contribution to corporate social responsibility. Reference can be made to a range of areas, including pro bono and community activities, environmental and workplace initiatives (such as those promoting greater diversity) and responsible client selection.
2016 WINNER: ITV / LSMP
The Legal Social Mobility Partnership (LSMP) aims to broaden access to the legal profession by providing students from less-privileged backgrounds access to a work insight and skills programme. LSMP is a broad-based initiative with a number of law firm and corporate sponsors, but ITV has been a driving force behind it and Matthews in particular has been a vocal campaigner for greater social awareness.
CMS has been participating in Lawyers in Schools for the past seven years, which places legal professionals in the classroom to work with young people on their awareness and understanding of the law. In collaboration with four clients in three different locations, 118 CMS volunteers worked with 143 students across the UK last year, a significant contribution.
FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER
Freshfields’ pro bono advice on a number of social impact bonds has helped to develop the social investment market in the UK. Last year, the firm advised on the first bond to fund foster placements for children in residential care in Manchester and has since worked on similar bonds in Birmingham and Cardiff, providing around 330 hours of pro bono advice to these initiatives, helping to unlock over £5m of funding.
An international team of 200 Linklaters lawyers helped to re-establish Liberia's legal foundations by piecing together Liberian case precedent, reinstituting the legal system that was abandoned during political upheaval and civil wars. The team worked to produce an indexed digest of the entire jurisprudence of Liberia dating back more than 150 years, marking the beginning of a new era in Liberian law.
Reed Smith has formalised a global social impact finance group to help develop social impact bonds as part of its pro bono strategy. Last year, its lawyers developed a framework to help provide new sources of global financing for education projects in developing countries. The bond, which draws on private funding to pay for girls' education in the developing world, was the first-ever cross-border impact bond.
SIMMONS & SIMMONS
In 2015 Simmons launched the Access to Justice Programme as part of its commitment to the UK Collaborative Plan for pro bono in the UK,
a profession-led collaboration that involved the leading 30 UK law firms. Simmons seeks to promote access to justice for low-income individuals by delivering end-to-end case work for welfare benefit appeals at the First Tier Tribunal.