Freshfields CSR report details fast-rising increase in pro bono efforts

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has seen the number of hours dedicated to volunteer work more than double over the last two years, according to the firm’s latest corporate social responsibility (CSR) report.

The magic circle firm spent 42,559 hours on pro bono activities during the 2009-10 financial year, according to the firm’s second CSR report – up from the 16,409 hours detailed in the first CSR report, which covered 2007-08.

Meanwhile, the total combined hours spent on volunteering and pro bono activities increased by 87% over the period, with just under 40% of the firm’s staff now involved in either community or pro bono activities – a 10% increase on 2007-08.

The increase betters targets set in the 2007-08 report to double employee hours spent on pro bono activities by 2011.

The report also shows that the firm has reduced its carbon footprint over the two-year period by 33%. The firm is aiming to reduce its firmwide carbon footprint by an additional 7% during the current financial year.

Freshfields joint senior partner Guy Morton (pictured) said: “Despite the challenging global and economic conditions that have prevailed since our last report, we have maintained a strong commitment to our CSR programmes and are encouraged by the results of this latest report.”

Freshfields’ community and pro bono work focuses on four key themes: increasing access to justice, promoting human rights, combating homelessness, and improving the skills and raising the aspirations of young and disadvantaged people.

The firm is involved with organisations including human rights groups Liberty and JUSTICE, Oxfam, homeless campaigning group Shelter, Lawyers Without Borders, Save the Children and RED.

Other details contained within the report include improving diversity with the firm. Some 25% of its London trainee intakes in February and August 2011 and February 2012 will come from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, equating to approximately 25 people. Currently 18% of London trainees are from BME backgrounds.

Recently appointed senior partner Will Lawes said: “We need to continue to improve our efforts to ensure we offer opportunities to a diverse range of people. To this end we have taken further steps in the past year to broaden the firm’s diversity with the creation of a global diversity team charged with spearheading our efforts.”