LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Global Firm to Author Reports on Access t…

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Global Firm to Author Reports on Access to Justice and Rule of Law for the Poor

Chicago, May 1, 2007 – More than 40 Baker & McKenzie lawyers from seven offices in North America, Europe and Asia are providing pro bono support to the Commission for the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (Legal Empowerment), a global initiative comprised of political leaders and policymakers, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Baker & McKenzie has commenced preparing four reports for the Commission’s Working Group on Access to Justice and the Rule of Law, chaired by former Canadian Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Lloyd Axworthy, under the direction of the Working Group’s Rapporteur, Professor Matthew Stephenson of Harvard Law School. The four report topics are: Legal Identity, Access to Legal Services, Formal and Informal Justice Systems, and Legal Mechanisms for Government Accountability. Some of the issues Baker & McKenzie will address in the reports include: ending legal exclusion; overcoming the lack of legal knowledge and knowledge of the legal system; expanding access to legal services; and improving the quality of justice.

The Working Group is also drawing on the input of non-governmental and grassroots organizations dedicated to access to justice initiatives, and focusing on issues specific to indigenous peoples, women, displaced populations, informal sector associations and labor unions.

Baker & McKenzie’s Project Leaders are Partners Barry Metzger and Robert P. Lewis from New York, with assistance from other report team leaders located in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, and Sydney, Australia.

“It is truly a privilege to work with Legal Empowerment on this project. We hope that through our involvement we will help raise awareness of the legal challenges those in poverty face day-to-day, and assist Legal Empowerment in proposing solutions,” said Robert Lewis.

“Baker & McKenzie brings its wide global reach and experience to the table,” Lloyd Axworthy said. “Their knowledge of legal environments in dozens of countries around the world gives them a basis for providing technical input on legal barriers and frameworks for reform. At the end of the day, we hope our efforts will provide some new insights into legal access for the poor, and how to extend legal protections to marginalized populations. .”

Co-chaired by former-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto, Legal Empowerment is the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and law. The initiative addresses the needs of the world’s poor by recognizing that poverty causes people to live outside of the rule of law, and to influence developing country governments and donor agencies to invest greater resources in targeted legal reforms to reduce poverty. Its membership consists of many former and sitting senior government officials, academics, and non-governmental organization leaders from both the developed and the developing world such as U.S. Supreme Justice Anthony Kennedy, former President of Ireland and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Robinson, former U.S Treasury Secretary and President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, Chancellor of the Exchequer for the UK Gordon Brown, Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and Dr. Axworthy. More information on the Commission and its mission is available at http://legalempowerment.undp.org

“As a global law firm and citizens of the world, it is fitting that Baker & McKenzie supports Legal Empowerment in strengthening the rule of law to address global poverty,” said David Hackett, North American Managing Partner. “Baker & McKenzie is deeply committed to providing pro bono service and addressing the needs of the communities in which we live and practice.”

Baker & McKenzie’s Pro Bono and Community Practice focuses on delivering the highest quality of legal services to the underserved and disadvantaged by fostering an environment that encourages and promotes public service. In addition, the practice promotes and sponsors activities, which provide opportunities for all Firm personnel, independently, and in partnership with its clients, to contribute to the well being of the community.

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For further details please contact:
Jessica Benzon, Global Press Office, Chicago on +1 312 861 2665 or [email protected]

About Baker & McKenzie
Founded in 1949, Baker & McKenzie is a global law firm of more than 3,400 locally qualified, internationally experienced lawyers and 6,600 other professionals and staff in 70 offices in 38 countries. Global revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2006 exceeded US $1.522 billion. John Conroy is Chairman of the Firm’s Executive Committee. (www.bakernet.com)

Baker & McKenzie International is a Swiss Verein with member law firms around the world. In accordance with the common terminology used in professional service organizations, reference to a “partner” means a person who is a partner, or equivalent, in such a law firm. Similarly, reference to an “office” means an office of any such law firm.

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