Legal world comes to aid of Haitian survivors

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Law firms around the world have offered financial and pro bono support to help survivors of the Haitian earthquake, while the Law Society has launched an appeal to gather donations.

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Chancery Lane has set up an online appeal which will aggregate money raised by the legal profession on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) – the umbrella organisation for 13 humanitarian aid agencies.

The appeal has been running since 21 January and has so far received a four-figure sum in donations from solicitors.

The International Bar Association’s (IBA) management board has donated £10,000 from the IBA’s funds to the DEC, and it has launched an appeal to raise money to rebuild the country’s judicial infrastructure.

IBA president Fernando Pelàez-Pier said: ‘The IBA has a strong track record of helping to build judicial infrastructures in developing countries, which makes us confident in offering to play a role in the reconstruction of Haiti.

He added that precisely how the IBA would help would depend on the resources available.

Meanwhile, many international law firms have donated money and set up schemes to match the amounts raised by their staff to support the disaster recovery. Magic circle firm Clifford Chance agreed to support fundraising by employees across its global network, matching the funds by up to £10,000, to be given to designated charities.

US firm White & Case will make a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) matching the amount donated by its staff to other relief organisations. US firm Mayer Brown donated $50,000 each to MSF and Habitat for Humanity, an organisation that provides new homes for those made homeless by the disaster.

US firm Reed Smith has made a $50,000 contribution, split between five international relief organisations, as well as matching staff donations by up to $25,000.

National firm DLA Piper held two ‘dress down’ days in support of charity UNICEF, and the trustees of the DLA Piper Charitable Trust will match the funds raised by staff.

Meanwhile, lawyers at City firm Lovells’ New York office have signed up to a pro bono advice clinic to help Haitian nationals living in the US with immigration issues.

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