Ch’ien Lee/Minden Pictures


We are proud to advise many of the world’s leading non-governmental
and inter-governmental organizations.

In a recent Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of 450 non-governmental organizations, three-quarters picked legal services as their greatest unmet need. We bring our strengths in corporate governance, operations and transactions to bear on behalf of our institutional pro bono clients around the world.

One hundred million dollars in debt-for-nature swaps

White & Case has advised on five debt-for-nature swaps since 2006, totaling US$100 million, led by a core team of partner Wendell Maddrey and associates Jeannine Acevedo and Nathalie Rey. In 2011, we served as pro bono legal counsel to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in a US$28.5 million debt-for-nature swap, the second largest agreement organized by the United States with Indonesia. This is the second time White & Case has represented nonprofit organizations in an agreement of this type in Indonesia.

Established by the US Tropical Forest Conservation Act, debt-for-nature swaps enable the United States to forgive a country’s foreign debt in exchange for the participating government’s commitment to devote a specified amount of money to conservation work. Under the agreement with Indonesia, the US government is contributing approximately US$25 million, and TNC and the WWF have each committed approximately US$2 million.

Indonesia is required to use the funds to finance biodiversity and forest conservation projects in three districts of Borneo, which are home to orangutans, gibbons, clouded leopards, elephants, hornbills and some 15,000 flowering plants.

Advice across borders

Many of our institutional pro bono clients require advice on complex, global governance and operational issues—and our lawyers work routinely across our global network to meet their needs.

We have great experience advising microfinance institutions and funds. We have represented Women’s World Banking (WWB) for more than 30 years and now serve as its primary legal services provider. In 2011, 22 lawyers and legal staff from our New York, Silicon Valley, Mexico City and London offices, led by New York partner Sylvia Fung Chin, advised WWB on strategic policy, corporate governance, intellectual property, real estate, employment and immigration matters. In addition, the team helped with aspects of the new WWB Isis Fund, which will make direct minority equity investments in high-performing, women-focused microfinance institutions. Many of the investment opportunities for WWB Isis Fund will be drawn from the 39 institutions in the WWB network, which on average out-performed the industry’s leading benchmark of investible microfinance institutions in terms of profitability and growth.

In 2011, lawyers in New York, Paris, Geneva and Abu Dhabi advised Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on issues ranging from governance to risk. MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in more than 60 countries. Associates Meredith Beuchaw and Jonathan Beecher and partner Oliver Brahmst in New York helped Doctors Without Borders USA assess alternatives and adopt a new method for the election of board members. Associate Saskia Seeger in Geneva worked with local counsel to help MSF International modernize its statutes. In Paris, partner Bertrand Liard assisted with a software license agreement, while partners Jean-Paul Tran Thiet and Michael Polkinghorne and associates James Gillespie and Craig Steinberg conducted a full review of MSF’s relations with aircraft providers and related insurance issues. Partners Campbell Steedman in Abu Dhabi and Michael Polkinghorne are also working with local counsel to advise MSF on the establishment of a hospital in Jordan.

We have advised the International Crisis Group on a wide array of corporate, regulatory and other matters for over a decade. In 2011, this advisory work involved 49 lawyers in our Beijing, Brussels, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Moscow, New York and Washington offices, led by New York partner Jason Webber. In 2011, we further expanded our relationship with this important client by providing substantive legal advice to Crisis Group on matters of public international law. Crisis Group used our analysis to develop widely circulated, critically important and highly influential policy briefings on areas experiencing, at risk of, or recovering from deadly conflict.

We began a new relationship this year with the William J. Clinton Foundation. Lawyers in New York, led by partner Don Dowling, advised on the drafting and launch of its global code of conduct. Lawyers in Stockholm, led by partner Jan Lombach, set up the Swedish arm of the Foundation.

NeXii, a global impact investment advisory firm, has launched the world’s first publically regulated social stock exchange board, the iX, in collaboration with the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. London Banking Capital Markets partners Gavin McLean and Melissa Butler and associate Tim Wood are helping NeXii draft a template suite of documents and guidelines for social entrepreneurs to use when applying to list debt and equity offerings on the iX.

Between 1957 and 1961, pregnant women in a number of countries were prescribed Thalidomide to cure morning sickness. The drug was later found to cause serious birth defects, notably dysmelia, or severely deformed limbs. Today, more than 15,000 people in Europe live with dysmelia. Brussels partners Ian Forrester and Rolf Olofsson and associate Genevra Forwood helped a number of national groups found the European Dysmelia Reference and Information Centre, which will offer a resource center and online community for people with dysmelia. The organization had been in paralysis for more than a year as a result of uncertainties about board membership and unclear, contradictory and incomplete corporate documents. We eventually mediated a series of successful meetings where new statutes were adopted, a new board was appointed and the organization was put on a sound legal footing.

Led by Silicon Valley partner Bijal Vakil, White & Case represents the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a multi-stakeholder initiative comprising companies, investors, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions committed to protecting and advancing online freedom of expression and privacy in the global information and communications technology industry. Since 2010, we have assisted in the formation of GNI and acted as its sole outside legal counsel.

We are assisting more inter-governmental organizations, especially those affiliated with the United Nations. Helsinki partner Tanja Törnkvist and associate Anna Huilaja assisted Transparency International in preparing the chapter on Finland in the 2011 Progress Report on Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. New York associate Todd Kevin Wolynski helped the United Nations Global Compact draft a standard form agreement and a due diligence questionnaire to be used by UN agencies for engagement with the private sector.

Civil societies: Central and Eastern Europe

Our offices in Prague, Bucharest, Budapest, Bratislava, Moscow, Warsaw and Turkey have active pro bono practices focused primarily on serving the legal needs of local non-governmental organizations.

Our Prague office saw two high-profile pro bono matters come to fruition in 2011. A team of four lawyers, led by partner Michal Dlouhý, provided legal, tax and publicity advice to set up The Good Angel in the Czech Republic. The Good Angel, which serves children and families facing financial difficulties due to a life-threatening illness, was set up in Slovakia five years ago and is now the largest Slovak charity, with more than 96,000 donors.

Its success led two Czech businessmen to bring it to the Czech Republic; its supporters include global technology and financial services companies.

Partner Květoslav Tomáš Krejčí and associate Eva Jíchová provided legal advice to restore one of the largest and most historic church organs in the Czech Republic. The organ is well known throughout Central Europe for virtuoso performances of Baroque period music. The restoration took more than two years and required legal advice related to the public tender, proceedings before the competition authority and contract drafting.

Led by partner Delia Pachiu, our Bucharest office initiated several innovative pro bono projects in 2011. We were selected to support a new initiative of the Civil Society Development Foundation—Pro Bono Legal Services for Romanian NGOs—which will facilitate collaboration between firms and Romanian non-governmental organizations seeking pro bono legal services.

Almost all the lawyers in our Bucharest office worked on a project to help the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania research and compile its first Romania Competitiveness Report, which identifies strengths and weaknesses of the Romanian economic and legal framework, along with a comparative analysis across European Union countries. Bucharest lawyers, led by Brussels partner Ian Forrester, are also advising the Republic of Moldova on steps to comply with the European Union Action Plan on visa liberalization with respect to the protection of minority rights.

Our Budapest office continued its active pro bono practice advising long-time clients United Way Budapest and several higher-education and religious organizations and began advising UNICEF in regard to its Hungarian operations.

Since 2008, lawyers from the Bratislava office have advised a leading Slovak public school in a dispute over the ownership of land and grounds in which the school’s existence is at stake.

Lawyers in Moscow continued to advise on the dispute over the future of the Melnikov House, the private home of noted architect Konstantin Melnikov and an architectural landmark in the center of Moscow. They also continued to represent a number of organizations, including WWF, UNICEF and the Center for Curative Pedagogics, which serves children with special needs.

Lawyers in Warsaw continued to serve the Polish Humanitarian Organization, the Federation of Polish Food Banks and the French Chamber of Commerce in Poland and assist an initiative to further develop and support public-private partnerships in Poland.

Our Istanbul office continued to provide significant support for LÖSEV, a leading Turkish charity serving children with leukemia and their families, as well as Tohum Vakfi, the Turkish Autism Foundation.

ProBono Deutschland

The practice of pro bono in Germany is evolving, and White & Case is playing a leadership role. In 2006, a dialogue about the future of pro bono in Germany began at a roundtable hosted by White & Case in Frankfurt that brought together law firms and civil society organizations. In February 2011, the roundtable participants founded ProBono Deutschland e.V., an association that counts White & Case and a number of international law firms as members. The association seeks to achieve greater recognition for, and more widespread adoption of, the concept of pro bono legal advice among lawyers in Germany, and to improve the framework conditions for pro bono under general statutory law as well as under professional codes of conduct.

Despite the relatively few pro bono opportunities in Germany at present, our German offices have begun serving a number of non-governmental organizations, including helping the Private Equity Foundation set up a legal entity for a national network for the vocational training of secondary school students. We also advise Project Climate, which develops carbon dioxide reduction tools for automobiles; Aktion Deutschland Hilft, an umbrella organization for relief agencies; and the Fairtrade Foundation. Claus Wecker in Düsseldorf, along with Monika Pasetti in Berlin, Philipp Graf von Dürckheim and Hans-Jürgen Hüesker, both in Frankfurt, led the launch of our pro bono practice in Germany during the last two years.


In addition to playing an important role on many of our cross-border projects, our lawyers in Asia are developing their roster of corporate pro bono clients. Singapore partner Will Kirschner led a team assisting the Asian Development Bank in its equity investment in Nationwide Microbank Ltd, a microfinance institution in Papua New Guinea. We also began a new relationship with Right to Play, which uses sport and play to educate children and foster social change in communities affected by conflict, poverty and disease. Lawyers in our Beijing office, led by partner Vivian Tsoi, advised on employment issues in China. We serve local and international organizations, including Active Kidz in Shanghai, Hope International in Hong Kong and Human Rights Now and Médecins du Monde Japon/Doctors of the World Japan in Tokyo.


We serve many US nonprofits on matters large and small. In one noteworthy matter, a team of three lawyers in our Miami office, led by partner Doug Halsey, helped Centro Campesino Farmworker Center, Inc., a Florida nonprofit that serves migrant and seasonal farmworkers, with the disposition of a distressed affordable housing project. Our representation began with legal advice on potential environmental issues related to the development of a farmworker housing project in South Florida and evolved into representing Centro Campesino in a merger with its nonprofit parent, renegotiating loan terms with Centro Campesino’s nonprofit lender and defending a foreclosure suit. The project culminated in the sale of the property to another developer of more than 480 units of farmworker housing in South Florida, allowing Centro Campesino to move forward with other farmworker housing projects in the future from a sound financial position.

“This transaction will ultimately allow the Indonesian Government to achieve seven percent economic growth and up to a 41 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.”
Greg Fishbein, Managing Director for Forest Carbon,
The Nature Conservancy

The forest habitat of the clouded leopard in Borneo is rapidly disappearing. A recent debt-for-nature swap will help reverse the damage.