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Save the Children

A rewarding relationship

Since we began our pro bono relationship with Save the Children in 2009, Freshfields has brought together cross-border and cross-practice teams to deliver over 28,000 hours of pro bono legal advice.

Over its almost 100-year history, Save the Children has been at the forefront of saving children’s lives and providing services directly to children in times of crisis. Save the Children today works in more 120 countries with in excess of 25,000 staff. Its much-needed services to children include complicated and challenging work in conflict-affected regions.

The charity’s mission to educate, protect and care for children resonates with Freshfields’ responsible business commitments. Save the Children is supported by 22 of our offices, as well as many of the StrongerTogether firms we partner with across the globe.

Our pro bono work is split between Save the Children International (SCI) and eight national member organisations around the world and includes day-to-day institutional support as well as assistance in areas linked to their humanitarian work.

“Save the Children has a footprint in many countries and resulting complex legal needs,” says Clare Canning, SCI General Counsel. “Freshfields has worked with us since 2009 and knows us intimately. We can trust them to understand us.”

Freshfields trainee solicitor Freddy Soames is on a six-month secondment to SCI. He says the experience has been enriching: “The secondment has helped me understand the client perspective more deeply. The obvious answer might not be what they are looking for. Most of all I feel very fortunate to work with Save the Children’s passionate, committed team.”

Important work

For Freddy, his secondment to SCI also offered the opportunity to take on new responsibilities, liaise directly with stakeholders and experience a wide range of different areas of law. “I’ve been lucky to do quite a lot of pro bono as a trainee and can say Freshfields takes pro bono work every bit as seriously as work we do for our paying clients,” he says. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do interesting work that is very different to private practice.”

Save the Children’s global restructuring in 2010–11 saw more than 50 of our lawyers across 10 Freshfields offices contribute more than 4,500 hours of pro bono advice.

The project streamlined the way the charity operates at a global level, unlocking substantial benefits for children as well as Save the Children. We also advised on various urgent legal queries in relation to Save the Children’s work tackling the Ebola crisis in 2014-15.

In 2015 SCI asked us for legal advice on the registration process to operate in various eastern European countries to assist with the refugee crisis. It wanted to know about any tax obligations and employment issues as well as whether it would be able to act in a particular country pending receipt of formal registration. Through our relationship law firms, we were able to introduce Save the Children to law firms in seven jurisdictions across the region (Macedonia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Montenegro).

We have also recently been assisting SCI with legal advice to help them set up an isolation and treatment centre to help tackle the coronavirus in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh: we provided advice around duty of care and the appropriate protocols and procedures to follow to help ensure the centre could be fully operational as quickly as possible to reduce the spread of the virus through an already vulnerable population. 

We don’t just do Save the Children’s most important legal work; like any other client we also try to understand their priorities. We have hosted and jointly organised events, including a recent client dinner in Frankfurt to promote awareness and raise money for the charities work in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

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