Pro bono work from Linklaters and Thomson Reuters with Lawyers Without Borders ushers in new era in Liberian law
- Over five years, 200 Linklaters lawyers have contributed more than 5,800 pro bono hours to foster access to justice and economic development in Liberia
- Index and summaries covering over 3,700 of Liberia’s cases are compiled for the first time
A team of over 200 Linklaters lawyers has produced an indexed digest of the entire jurisprudence of Liberia, on a pro bono basis.
As a result of a five-year multi-party effort, judges and lawyers are now able to access, consider and build upon Liberian case precedent, reinstituting the foundation that was abruptly abandoned during the political upheaval and civil wars under Charles Taylor.
Over a period of five years, a cross-disciplinary team of over 200 Linklaters lawyers, trainees and summer associates across eight different offices, from New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Madrid, Milan, Moscow and Paris, contributed over 5,800 hours on a pro bono basis.
Commenting on the initiative, Kathryn Ludlow, Linklaters Dispute Resolution Partner and Global Head of Pro Bono, said:
“We are proud to have contributed to a project to assist with the ability to observe the Rule of Law in Liberia.
“As a firm, much of our pro bono work is directed towards sustaining the rule of law, especially pertinent in the year in which we celebrate the 800th anniversary of the granting of Magna Carta.”
Lawyers Without Borders conducted an initial scoping exercise before the digest project commenced. In doing so, they consulted with the Chief Justice and uncovered a critical need for an index and case digest to be made accessible to the judiciary. Lawyers Without Borders secured seed project underwriting from the World Bank, and enlisted the publishing support of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters assisted with creating the organisational structure of the digest, designed the digest cover to match the cover style of Thomson Reuters’ prominent National Reporter Series, and printed the publication. This month, Thomson Reuters provided pro bono printing for the first set of pocket parts published for the digest.
Lawyers Without Borders’ Founder and Director, Christina Storm, said,
“In my sector, I don’t believe that work like this has been completed in such a compressed timetable on such a large scale before. An informed and consistent legal system is an effective one, and these reference materials allow us to work together with our Liberian colleagues toward better legal governance.”
The Liberian legal system is rooted in common law and is precedent-driven. Until recently, the lack of a comprehensive index to case law from the 1860s onwards, compounded by lack of access to court decisions in remote areas, posed a significant challenge to the doctrine of precedent.
The volunteer lawyers produced a key-word index accompanied by case summaries covering over 3,700 Liberian cases from the 1860s onwards. As a result, a case digest and index have been published and hard copies have been distributed to every judge throughout the cities and rural areas of Liberia, to the Law School in Monrovia as well as Yale and Cornell universities and the US embassy in Liberia. Continued national electricity and internet connectivity access issues currently prevent the longer term goals of making the digest and index available online a longer term goal of the project.
The value of Linklaters’ pro bono time on this project has been US$1.5 million to date.*
For further information please contact Katie Taylor on 020 7456 2287
Notes to editors:
- Linklaters LLP is a leading global law firm, supporting clients in achieving their strategies wherever they do business. We use our expertise and resources to help clients pursue opportunities and manage risk across emerging and developed markets around the world.
- We believe that the rule of law is essential to human progress, underpinning economic activity and the development of society. Our work is to enable the world of business to benefit from the rule of law, and the integrity, fairness and certainty that it brings. We know that trust in us comes from giving principled advice, which means not just doing things right, but doing the right things – and helping our clients to do likewise.
- Linklaters’ award-winning pro bono practice has a leading reputation for delivering positive social change. We are committed to long-term, sustainable and holistic pro bono relationships to enable us to work together to effect lasting social change. Linklaters continues to work closely with Lawyers Without Borders on a pro bono basis across a number of topics including human trafficking and child labour.
Lawyers without Borders
- Lawyers Without Borders is a not-for-profit organisation with centres in the USA, UK and Kenya, that supports global justice sector capacity building through training, observation, technical support and access to justice initiatives. LWOB fulfills its mission, in part, by harnessing and structuring pro bono resources and contributions from lawyers and law firms around the world.
- Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization. For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.
* Valued on a cost-to-firm basis in accordance with London Benchmarking Group best practice.