Thomson Unveils Global Hub for Free Legal Help

At an event today in New York City, Thomson Reuters will formally announce the launch of TrustLaw, a Web-based service that is intended to promote “the culture and practice of pro bono” around the world.

The key feature of the site is a platform called TrustLaw Connect, which is designed to allow non-governmental organizations and social entrepreneurs that cannot afford legal services to connect with lawyers willing to represent them for free.

The site also features two comprehensive libraries of news stories, legal materials, case studies and other resources. One library focuses on materials related to pro bono legal services. The other collects materials related to good governance and anti-corruption.

In a video discussing the new initiative, Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, says that pro bono is well organized and well practiced in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and South Africa, but that many other countries lack any organized platform for pro bono. With TrustLaw, she says, “we are creating a market for pro bono … to spread the practice of pro bono worldwide.”

The kinds of legal matters appropriate for TrustLaw are wide-ranging and can include advice on such topics as IP, governance structures, organizational issues, contracts, real estate and employment. For lawyers, one benefit of the site is the ability to become involved in global projects outside the usual scope of their day-to-day work.

The service has been operating for several months now, but will get a formal kick-off with today’s event at Thomson Reuters headquarters in NYC. The event will include a luncheon hosted by the company’s president and CEO, Pater Warwick, followed by a panel discussion moderated by legal scholar and commentator Arthur R. Miller.