PILNet’s annual European Pro Bono Forum took place in Rome, Italy last week. PILNet, a global network for public interest law, has as its aim the application of the rule of law to achieve justice and the protection of human rights. The Forum brings together pro bono actors from a range of sectors and jurisdictions around the world to collaborate on critical social issues.

During the Forum, DLA Piper was awarded the prestigious European Award for Partnership in the Public Interest. This award, now in its fifth year, recognises the best pro bono collaboration between a non-government organisation and a law firm in the UK and Continental Europe. In determining the recipient of the award, the judges consider the project’s influence on the public interest, legislation, the development of civil society, improvements in the protection of human rights, expanding access to justice and raising awareness of the importance of pro bono work.

This year’s award recognised DLA Piper’s signature project: ‘Upholding the Rights of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Stateless People’. The UNHCR estimates that 13.9 million people were displaced in 2014 due to conflict or persecution. Our project aims to address the crisis across Europe and the UK by tackling the complex legal issues faced by refugees. The project is multi-jurisdictional and multi-faceted. It includes providing support for peak refugee bodies, staffing legal clinics, conducting strategic litigation and increasing the capacity of NGO partners by providing comparative legal research, secondments, asylum decision case summaries and supporting evidence gathering. The project involves lawyers from our Austrian, Belgian, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian and UK offices. DLA Piper’s expert partners in the project include the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Belgian Refugee Council, the Italian Refugee Council, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Islington Law Centre and Habeas Corpus.

The Pro Bono Team sincerely thanks everyone involved for their contribution. For more information on the award and our Pro Bono projects please contact Ozgur Kahale for Continental Europe and Amy Heading for the UK.

The original press release may be found here on DLA Piper’s website.