Global law firm Baker McKenzie has supported UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, for several years. From providing legal advice on a pro bono basis to fundraising for UK for UNHCR to allow us to carry out our life-saving work, Baker McKenzie and its staff are committed supporters of those who have been forced to flee.
Through Baker McKenzie’s commitment to pro bono work, UNHCR receive essential legal advice and support. For example, when UNHCR choose to intervene in legal proceedings, Baker McKenzie work alongside barristers to assist every step of the way; from the first application for permission to intervene, right through to the hearing of the case, protecting the rights of refugees.
“Often UNHCR will only intervene because it wants to assist the Court in providing clarity on an area of law or shape an area of law that’s developing. It really is cutting edge work, and it’s great to be able to play a small part in UNHCR’s incredibly important work,” stated Yindi Gesinde, partner in the Baker McKenzie Dispute Resolution team based in London and a member of the Compliance and Investigations group.
UNHCR and Baker McKenzie employees both benefit from the longstanding partnership, and employees are increasingly interested in the refugee cause.
Susanna Winter, corporate social responsibility manager at Baker McKenzie said, “The refugee situation has just escalated so much in recent years. I think probably for both Yindi and myself, when we joined the firm there was already engagement, but it’s grown exponentially in recent years, as people have their eyes open to what’s going on.”
“I think our employees just really want to help. They work for a firm that has had such a long standing relationship with UNHCR, the lawyers at the firm can put their legal skills to good use by working on pro bono matters, while everyone can find other ways to learn more about UNHCR’s work and how to support,” added Yindi.
One such example is the firm’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan that unfolded earlier this year. The Baker McKenzie London office launched a giving page, raising funds to help UNHCR to provide emergency relief kits, cash assistance and shelter. As the situation developed it touched the hearts of Baker McKenzie employees globally, and as more and more people wanted to help the page gained traction.
On a more personal level, Baker McKenzie have also invited refugees to their offices to share their stories, experiences and the support they’ve received from UNHCR, which Yindi says helps to raise awareness.
“I’m really proud to work for a firm that supports refugees. There is a lot of negativity surrounding refugees and asylum seekers, [..] so it’s really great that we can do our part.”
“There’s very little that separates us from refugees and displaced people. [..] I just want people to put themselves in the shoes of somebody who, one day is living in the home that they’ve grown up in their entire life, and then they’re forced to move. Imagine how devastating and disruptive that is. We could all be in that situation at any point in our lives.”
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