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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 40,000 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.”

Holly Terry who has been involved in SCI’s Ukraine response said “Freshfields gave us invaluable advice to support Save the Children's establishment of operations in Poland and in relation to our innovative, multi-modality, cross-border cash and voucher assistance programming. This will allow us to reach displaced people with unprecedented speed as they flee Ukraine and move to and through other countries and allows us to continue to provide crucial cash assistance to children and families impacted by this conflict.”

Freshfields’ Jiwoo Yoo said of his six-month trainee secondment to SCI: “I feel very fortunate to have had an in-depth experience of working within SCI’s legal team and to have contributed to the organisation’s important programmes and activities all across the world, especially in the challenging times we live in.”

Important work

For Jiwoo, his secondment to SCI also offered the opportunity to take on new responsibilities, liaise directly with stakeholders and apply his legal skills to new, unfamiliar contexts. “I took on a lot of pro bono work during my training contract, as I wanted to use my legal skills to help those in need, and am proud of Freshfields’ commitment to its pro bono clients,” he says. “I have also managed to continue my relationship with the SCI legal team since qualifying and they have already instructed me and my team for advice!”

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.