responsible business

Pro bono advice

We act free of charge (pro bono) for clients, from individual asylum seekers to some of the world’s biggest charities. Our work is focused on providing access to justice and access to opportunity to our target groups in our responsible business strategy.

To promote access to justice, we partner with advice agencies and other local charities to deliver advice and, in some jurisdictions, representation to individuals in need. We combine this work with strategic mandates that enable us to create systemic change. To promote access to opportunity, we give free advice to organisations that support our target groups.

We aim to work on mandates that have the biggest impact by building strong relationships with our key pro bono clients.

We owe them the same professional duties and treat them in the same way as our fee-paying clients. Where required, we bring together cross-practice, cross-border teams as we do for any other client we work with.

Last year we gave over 51,000 hours of free legal help and worked on 500 matters for 286 clients.

Our pro bono clients also benefit from free professional advice from our business services staff, such as IT, marketing and human resources.

Last year in the UK we were awarded Pro Bono Initiative of the Year at The Lawyer Awards for our work with Shelter’s Children’s Legal Service, and the Law Society’s Excellence in Pro Bono award for our work for victims of modern slavery. In Tokyo we received the FTI Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year award for our contribution to the Lawyers for LGBT and Allies Network, of which Freshfields is a founding member. In the US we won the Abolitionist Award from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women for our vast and diverse work on anti-trafficking, and the 2018 Above and Beyond award from Sanctuary for Families for our work on behalf of gender-based violence survivors.

At the same time we work with our fee-paying clients to help them develop their own pro bono activities, and collaborate with them on certain projects that meet our shared responsible business objectives.