2023 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Awardee

in partnership with

The Justice in Action project, a collaboration of more than 60 legal departments and Baker McKenzie, is a triumph of building community across industries, geographies, and cultures through pro bono. Justice in Action addresses compelling social justice challenges around the globe through impactful research projects on behalf of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that serve vulnerable populations. The program has revolutionized how pro bono is executed through an original, collaborative virtual “sprint” format, that allows teams of volunteers from Baker McKenzie and legal departments to effectively conduct the legal research and analysis needed to create a number of capacity-building tools that have assisted vulnerable populations and others who need to understand the law.

Since May 2021, 3,391 participants have joined this initiative. Around 90% of participants are lawyers, 10% are legal staff, 2,430 are from in-house legal departments, and 961 are Baker McKenzie employees.

This partnership has engaged teams of problem-solvers on some of the world’s most compelling social justice challenges relating to racism, mental health, justice crossing borders, and child welfare. Pro bono volunteer attorneys and legal professionals have participated in many impactful projects, including:

  • Real Rights Legal Guide for Youth Interacting with Police: Justice in Action is creating a first-of-its-kind, city-specific guide for youth who come into contact with the police, containing information about state, federal, and municipal laws and how young people can assert their rights. This project, partnering with the Global Initiative on Justice With Children (www.justicewithchildren.org), is focused on global cities where Black, brown, and other minority children, youth and adults engage with the police more often and with dangerous results.
  • Kids in Mental Health Detention: Children and youth across the globe are increasingly facing detention for issues surrounding mental health. Unfortunately, in many jurisdictions that detention is unregulated and mirrors criminal detention, often times with less legal parameters around legal rights in entering detention, during, and, ultimately, leaving detention. Given that youth of color are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, it is thought (though data is not collected to confirm) that youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth are equally overrepresented in the mental health detention settings. Partnering with the American Bar Association Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the Section of Litigation, this project focuses on the gathering and analysis of laws and regulations around when children and youth can be detained solely for issues related to mental health. This work will be published by partner organizations across the globe and shared with organizations working directly with youth in mental health detention.
  • Evaluating Domestic Violence laws: Justice in Action prepared a global comparative law tool designed to assess the relative effectiveness of applicable laws on fighting domestic violence, and to identify where improvements can be made locally, nationally, and internationally. At the request of domestic violence leaders from Global Rights for Women and Every Woman Treaty, the project is focused on fighting domestic violence and intimate partner violence across 73 countries. Over 500 volunteers from participating corporations and Baker McKenzie dedicated themselves to identifying the gap between human rights standards set out in legal frameworks and existing laws by jurisdiction.
  • LGBTQ+ Youth Advocacy: Mapping U.S. Laws to Help Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Justice in Action is working with Lambda Legal’s Youth In Out-of-Home Care team to develop a legal map detailing questions that LGBTQ+ youth express every day on topics such as medical consent, ability to contract, emancipation, public accommodations, anti-discrimination laws, and more. This project is focused on compiling research to ultimately publish on Lambda Legal’s website as an accessible and reliable tool for young people and providers who work with LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Myth Busting: “Conversion Therapy” Torture of LGBTQ+ Youth: Justice in Action is examining the so-called “Conversion Therapy” laws and practices in select countries to assist youth seeking resolution of a visa or asylum application in the U.S. This project is focused on country conditions that include these false “psychological” treatments and how they are used to hurt children based on a theory that they can falsely stop them from being LGBTQ+.

Justice in Action makes a difference not only for the organizations served, but also for the communities impacted by the work of each organization. The sprints also serve as a first step in the continuum of pro bono that can lead participants to make a deeper commitment to and advocate for individuals, entities, and communities in more complex and long-term engagement. Many legal departments participating in the sprints learn about an issue and are inspired to engage more deeply on the topic with other projects related to that issue, such as juvenile justice, fighting domestic violence, and securing vital documents and identification for marginalized communities.

Watch the Justice in Action video.

Congratulations to the Justice in Action partners for their important pro bono work.




Amcor Flexibles Asia Pacific

American International Group, Inc.

Aon plc


Autodesk Inc.


Avangrid, Inc.


BNY Mellon

Boston Scientific Corporation

BP p.l.c.

Legal Team of China Unicom (Europe)


Dun & Bradstreet

Entain plc


Google LLC

Health Care Service Corporation

HP Inc.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Kyndryl Inc.


Merck & Co., Inc.


Pacific Gas and Electric Company





State Street Corporation

Thomson Reuters



Zebra Technologies

PBI applauds these in-house leaders for their commitment to pro bono.

Lily Tsen
Regional General Counsel
Amcor Flexibles
Asia Pacific

As a GC, I often pause to wonder what opportunities are out there to inspire and motivate our teams, and to bring us back to the heart of why so many of us chose to pursue law in the first place: To advocate for the underrepresented and be an instrument for justice and change. The Justice in Action project showed us that justice has no borders, enabling counsel such as myself to participate in meaningful and collaborative pro bono activities from any part of the world. Congratulations to all who participated, and thank you for the opportunity.

Julia Jessen
General Counsel

As part of the Justice in Action initiative, this past year, our Avanade colleagues summarized requirements for obtaining state identification and other vital records for the benefit of young adults experiencing homelessness or exiting the social services system. Others researched law and attitudes surrounding conversion therapy in Italy for the benefit of the transgender community. Engaging with these type of pro bono projects that aim to remove the barriers for these and other vulnerable populations to engage with systems of justice is critical and meaningful work reflective of Avanade’s “do what matters” guiding principle.

Theresa Duckett
Associate General Counsel and Co-Chair, DE&I Council Communities Committee

Baker McKenzie’s Justice in Action program has been an ideal way for the professionals in BMO’s Legal and Regulatory Compliance group to serve our global communities through pro bono work. At BMO, we’re driven to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, and as part of that, we strive to use our time, knowledge and resources to close the justice gap. With a just few hours at a time in a Justice in Action sprint, we chip away at the darkness and make the world a brighter place for our most vulnerable neighbors.

Miri Miller
Deputy General Counsel, Americas

We are honored to receive the 2023 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award. The Justice in Action research sprints create invaluable resources for NGOs that serve vulnerable populations. Alongside Baker McKenzie, we are proud to champion community building across industries, geographies, and cultures to close the access to justice gap and deliver both growth and good.

David Phelan
General Counsel
State Street

We are immensely privileged to collaborate in this program with Baker McKenzie and other legal teams to help empower youths in vulnerable populations and educate them on their rights. We look forward to participating in future initiatives to serve those in disadvantaged and at-risk communities.

Helen Respass
Co-Chair, Global Pro Bono Program
Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is honored to receive the 2023 CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award in collaboration with Baker McKenzie. We are grateful to be in the company of like-minded organizations and individuals focusing on increasing access to justice, and supporting and empowering vulnerable members of our society.

We thank Baker McKenzie for their leadership and alliance on the Justice in Action project. These research sprints have provided a unique platform for our pro bono attorneys to channel our skills and knowledge to address pressing legal issues that affect underserved populations. The opportunity to engage in pro bono work is a privilege and a source of immense fulfillment. Thank you also to Pro Bono Institute for this award. It serves as a reminder that our efforts, however small they may seem, can make a lasting impact on the lives of individuals and communities that need it the most.

Finally, thank you to our many Thomson Reuters volunteers for their passion and service and to our Thomson Reuters Pro Bono Committee. We are grateful to be part of an organization that recognizes the value of pro bono work and enables us to inform the way forward by giving back and creating positive change.

Cindy Boyle
Chair, WTW Pro Bono Program

The Justice in Action partnership with Baker McKenzie is a unique opportunity for Office of General Counsel colleagues in every region of WTW (Great Britain/Europe, International and North America) to participate in our global Pro Bono Program which is focused on providing support to the communities where we live and work.

Cristen Kogl
Chief Legal Officer

Zebra is committed to giving back to the communities where we live and work. We are proud of our partnership with Baker & McKenzie in the Justice in Action Real Rights Project. It was a wonderful and unique opportunity for Zebra Legal to help support the rights of youth around the globe while collaborating with others in the Legal profession.


About the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award
Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), a project of Pro Bono Institute, created the CPBO Pro Bono Partner Award to recognize innovative pro bono collaborations of in-house legal departments with law firms and public interest organizations. Pro bono partnerships that include at least one in-house legal department with one or more law firms and/or public interest organizations are eligible. The CPBO Advisory Board selects the award recipients.

The award honors legal departments and the organizations with which they partner in the provision of legal services to those in need. The award recipients are departments, law firms, and public interest organizations that have demonstrated an impact in their community through their partnership project, shown substantial involvement in the project by in-house lawyers, made tangible steps toward sustaining the relationship among the partners, developed innovative substantive or structural approaches in support of the partnership’s effort, and addressed a critical legal need or assisted a particularly vulnerable community or target population.

Over the years, the impact and innovation of the projects supported by the award recipients have been tremendously important both in the projects’ ability to address the legal needs of the communities being served and in the role the partnerships have played in supporting and furthering pro bono work, especially within the in-house community. Through these partnerships, legal departments, law firms, and public interest organizations have devised programs that contribute to the legal profession’s efforts to close the justice gap and that create strong legacies of effective pro bono service.