Hogan Lovells lawyers and other employees are set to take part in global peace and reconciliation efforts as a result of a new partnership the firm announced with nonprofit PeaceTech Lab.
As part of the three-year partnership, some 6,000 Hogan Lovells employees at its more than 45 offices around the world will be volunteering to help PeaceTech Lab promote the use of readily available technology to reduce conflict.
A number of Big Law firms have long-established pro bono programs, including Hogan Lovells, which is celebrating its program’s 50th anniversary this year.
But these programs are often limited to a smaller subset of firm attorneys, and carried out locally, rather than on a global scale.
The partnership with PeaceTech is part of Hogan Lovells’ global law firm citizenship program where employees volunteer at least 25 hours a year, contributing a variety of efforts including pro bono legal services.
The firm formalized its broader citizenship policy in 2015, five years after the combination of Hogan & Hartson and the U.K. firm, Lovells, to ensure that all employees would be able to participate in the citizenship program.
“Working with PeaceTech Lab is a wonderful combination so we can contribute to the absence of violent conflicts, and the promotion of innovation,” Hogan Lovells’ global firm chair Leopold von Gerlach told Bloomberg Law. “We see this as part of what a law firm wants to achieve. We are at the center of the legal system, which at its core is meant to provide peace for a community of people.”
PeaceTech Lab, said von Gerlach, is approaching “the world’s oldest challenge— human conflict —through the new lens of technology, media and data.”
The Washington-based non-profit has trained people in conflict affected areas such as Burundi and Kenya. Its work includes helping them understand the role that hate speech plays in contributing to violence.
Sheldon Himelfarb, the organization’s chief executive, said it takes only a push of a button to send pictures, money and information around the world.
“This means that with a simple cell phone or laptop computer, anyone can be a peacebuilder,” said Himelfarb.
In addition to pro bono legal advice and fundraising, Hogan Lovells employees will also be able to take part in training, workshops and community-based activities over the three years of the partnership.
Last year, Hogan Lovells completed a three-year partnership with Barefoot College, a global nonprofit which works to empower women in rural communities by training them to become solar engineers. During the partnership, the firm helped train almost 500 “solar mamas” in 35 countries and raised more than $500,000 in donations.
For the current partnership, Amy Roma, an energy partner at Hogan Lovells who heads the firm’s citizenship committee, said the firm first decided on a theme that would be of interest to its thousands of employees in dozens of offices.
“We chose peace and reconciliation,” she said. “We’ve all seen the rise in hate crime, in the number of refugees and their plights. But it was a surprisingly daunting task to find one organization to work with. We did a lot of reaching out, and it was finally by sending one cold email that we found PeaceTech Lab.”
An upcoming collaboration between PeaceTech Lab and Hogan Lovells is a four-day workshop in Brazil to train people in a local community to use off-the-shelf technology to promote peace. It would be done in collaboration with the law firm’s office in Sao Paulo, Himelfarb said.
“Everybody has tools like cell phones that they can use,” he said, “and we teach them how.”