Pro bono legal advice by Hengeler Mueller
As part of our social responsibility as a leading law firm, we provide pro bono legal advice in support of good causes.
The focus of our pro bono work is on charitable institutions which are active in fields such as education and science, health care, the environment, arts and culture, human rights and the rule of law, as well as in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Hengeler Mueller is a member of Pro Bono Deutschland e.V., an association based in Frankfurt am Main which pursues the goal of encouraging civic commitment in the field of free legal advice.
If you have any questions about pro bono legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact one of our pro bono representatives Annika Clauss (Frankfurt office) or Georg Seyfarth (Düsseldorf office).
Examples of our diverse pro bono work include:
Der gemeinnützige Verein Afro-Deutsche Jurist:innen e.V. wurde im Jahr 2022 gegründet. Er setzt sich dafür ein, die Perspektive Schwarzer Menschen in die rechtliche Debatte mit einzubringen und somit zur Gleichberechtigung Schwarzer Personen in Deutschland beizutragen. Daneben hat der Verein sich das Ziel gesetzt, Sichtbarkeit für die afro-diasporische Community in Deutschland zu schaffen und als Ansprechpartner zu fungieren, zum Beispiel durch die Vermittlung eines Rechtsbestandes aus dem Verein oder dem unmittelbaren Netzwerk. Neben regelmäßigen Veranstaltungen wie Community-Treffen oder Kamingesprächen, in deren Rahmen Vereinsmitglieder über ihren Werdegang berichten, richtet der Verein im Jahr 2023 erstmals eine Fachtagung aus.
Hengeler Mueller berät den Verein Afro-Deutsche Jurist:innen e.V. zu arbeitsrechtlichen Fragestellungen.
Start Right e.V. (www.start-right.de/) advises social initiatives on finding the form of corporate organisation that is right for them, as well as on answering other legal questions that come up when movements are starting up. The advising is done by law students under the guidance of fully qualified lawyers. Together with Hengeler Mueller, Start Right e.V. is assisting a diverse array of social initiatives as they get started:
- uNowanga gUG (www.unowanga.com) is a non-profit organisation that offers South African youth the opportunity to learn German and to be trained to become nurses in Germany. Once they complete their apprenticeships, the youth can decide whether they would like to start their careers in Germany or in South Africa.
- Klima-Mitbestimmung – JETZT e.V. (https://klimamitbestimmung.de/) aims to have the German parliament convene a nationwide citizens' assembly on climate change and also to form a broad societal alliance in support of further citizens' assemblies on climate change.
- Through Teddybärkrankenhaus München (www.tbk-muenchen.de) students of the Munich universities LMU and TUM volunteer their time to help children overcome their fear of visiting the doctor by acquainting them with a hospital setting through fun and playful 'teddy bear clinics'.
- ApplicAid e.V. (www.applicaid.org) assists young people from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds in applying for scholarships.
Hengeler Mueller assists Start Right e.V. in training students to become legal advisers while still students and then guides these advisers as they handle actual clients and engagements.
The online advice service JugendNotmail of the KJSH - Stiftung für Kinder-, Jugend- und Soziale Hilfen (Foundation for Child, Youth and Social Help) has been offering children and young people a simple way to make themselves heard digitally in the event of personal problems for more than 20 years. The initiative aims to raise awareness for an open and good approach to one's own mental health and make it easier for children and young people to look for suitable help. Young people have the opportunity to confidently report on difficult, stressful, taboo or intimate things. 250 volunteers are available for counselling via email or chat. In 2021, children and young people made use of this service in more than 4,000 digital counselling sessions.
Hengeler Mueller has been advising the KJSH free of charge since 2020 on issues relating to contract law, public procurement law and subsidies law matters in connection with the redesign of the counselling platform and the development of an associated app.
In view of the increased challenges to the rule of law and threats to lawyers around the globe 'The Law Society of England and Wales' has conducted a report on the international recognition of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. The principles of lawyer-client confidentiality, rights to prepare an adequate defence and access to counsel lie at the core of the legal profession and the judicial system itself. Without respect for these principles, lawyers cannot fulfil their function to support the rule of law and assist their clients. At a time when the independence of the legal profession is continuously under threat in many jurisdictions across the world, it is vital to highlight that such independence is a value that is shared across jurisdictions and legal cultures.
The study sheds light on the status of the independence of the legal profession in 15 jurisdictions from different regions: Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East, and Africa and includes references to decisions by international tribunals and bodies. It highlights that principles established in the UN framework, concerning the exercise of the legal profession, are recognised in the case law of High Courts in all these jurisdictions.
Hengeler Mueller assisted, together with Best Friend firm Slaughter and May, the Law Society with this significant and timely research project pro bono. Hengeler Mueller lawyers Clara Lütgerath and Dirk Uwer contributed the Germany chapter of the report.
The environmental and animal protection organisation African Parks Network has established a German foundation aiming at the collection of large donations. The non-profit organisation takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. It currently manages 19 national parks and protected areas in 11 countries (Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) covering over 14.2 million hectares.
Hengeler Mueller advised African Parks free of charge on the establishment and the start of operations of the registered charitable foundation African Parks Deutschland Stiftung.
The US non-profit organisation International Refugee Assistance Project, Inc. (IRAP) is now also present in Europe. IRAP is a dynamic and growing legal, policy, and advocacy organisation that works to develop and enforce a system of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced people around the world. It is one of the leading organisations providing free and comprehensive legal services to people throughout registration, protection, and resettlement processes.
IRAP established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Berlin, Germany in the legal form of a non-profit limited liability company (gGmbH). The subsidiary represents IRAP and its work in Europe. Hengeler Mueller advised IRAP pro bono on the establishment and launch of its European presence in Berlin.
Der Verein für Socialpolitik ist einer der ältesten Vereine Deutschlands. In der Zeit Bismarcks als nicht eingetragener Verein gegründet (1873), war er zunächst eine Art sozialpolitischer „Agitationsverein“. Über die Jahre entwickelte er sich zu einem fachübergreifenden wissenschaftlichen Forum. Nach zwischenzeitlicher Selbstauflösung, um der Gleichschaltung durch die Nationalsozialisten zu entgehen, wurde der Verein 1948 wiedergegründet. Er hat heute rd. 4.000 Mitglieder, in erster Linie deutschsprachige Wirtschaftswissenschaftlerinnen und -wissenschaftler aus aller Welt, und genießt hohes Ansehen. Der Verein ist gemeinnützig, er fördert Wissenschaft und Forschung. Dazu veranstaltet er u.a. wissenschaftliche Tagungen zu grundlegenden und aktuellen wirtschaftspolitischen Themen, gibt Schriften (u.a. zwei Fachzeitschriften) heraus, fördert den wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs und hat sich einem Ethikkodex für ethisch vertretbares wissenschaftliches Arbeiten verpflichtet.
Der Verein bestand bisher als nicht eingetragener Verein. Hengeler Mueller hat den Verein bei der Neufassung der Satzung und Etablierung als eingetragener Verein beraten.
Founded in 2015, Visioneers e.V. supports the integration of families and individuals into German society by offering mentoring programmes and assisting in the search for living accommodation. The association is also active in international development aid and refers volunteers to projects supporting the building of schools, assisting in exiting from prostitution or teaching medical know-how. There is a special referral service in "corporate volunteering" which creates opportunities for companies to procure employees for activities which support charitable projects.
Hengeler Mueller has supported Visioneers e.V. by updating its articles and in connection with corporate secretarial matters.
Georg-Speyer-Haus, a private foundation under public law, is a research institute in Frankfurt exclusively engaged in non-profit work. Established in 1904, Georg-Speyer-Haus initially served as a research institute for Paul Ehrlich, who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1908 for his work on immunology. In 1909, Paul Ehrlich developed Arsphenamine at Georg-Speyer-Haus, the first chemotherapeutical medicine. For more than a century, Georg-Speyer-Haus has been known for its research in the field of chemotherapy. In recent days, however, the institute specialises increasingly in tumour biology and experimental therapy. Georg-Speyer-Haus cooperates with Goethe University Frankfurt. Financial support is provided by the Hesse Ministry for Arts and Sciences and the Federal Ministry of Health.
Hengeler Mueller is advising Georg-Speyer-Haus, especially regarding contractual, regulatory and IP issues.
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is a non-profit organisation headquartered in London. Through its team based in the UK, Spain, Germany, Korea, Thailand, The Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, it works internationally to protect the environment, in particular the world’s seas and oceans, and to defend human rights world-wide. To support these efforts, the EJF conducts investigations, produces documentary films and other information material, carries out campaigns to raise public awareness and builds global networks with environmental and human rights defenders and local communities.
Hengeler Mueller advised the EJF on the foundation of its German subsidiary in the form of a charitable limited liability company.
Philip Julius e.V. helps families with multiple, severely disabled children. It offers relatives of severely disabled children, youths and young adults comprehensive information and support, especially in relation to questions about where they can live and be cared for should their family be unable to provide supervision and support at home; and what needs to be taken into account when planning a family holiday together. The institution also provides holiday homes tailored to the needs of severely disabled people. In addition, a blog delivers interesting stories, news and reports focusing on their specific needs.
Hengeler Mueller advised Philip Julius e.V. on its establishment and has since provided further advice on legal matters and on notarial work.
FINCA is a non-profit organisation offering micro finance loans and other financial services to entrepreneurs in the poorest countries in the world, with the aim of creating jobs for the poorest citizens and to improve their general living conditions. FINCA has its principal operation in Washington D.C., but is active in 21 countries throughout Africa, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Middle East and South Asia, with approximately 1.6 million customers.
Hengeler Mueller has advised FINCA on obtaining charitable status in establishing a German branch, and continues to regularly advise FINCA in connection with its refinancing arrangements with European banks.
Supported by the British Aegis Trust, “Aegis White Rose” was founded in Germany. The association shall offer decision-makers, scientists, media and a wider public a community and encourage lively and differentiated discussions on conflicts and violence, their risk factors and potential countermeasures. The exchange of experience and knowledge shall be promoted and pooled, inter alia through seminars and conferences under the umbrella of “Aegis White Rose”.
Aegis Trust (www.aegistrust.org) was founded in 2000 by the Beth Shalom/National Holocaust Centre (www.nationalholocaustcentre.net) with the aim to prevent genocide. It has dedicated itself to the prevention of social, ethnic and religious hostility. The trust is active in the UK, the US and has initiated projects in Ruana, Kenia, the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan.
Hengeler Mueller advised Aegis Trust on the establishment of the association pro bono.
The non-profit organisation taswira connects cultures e.V. supports artists and creative entrepreneurs from Africa and the diaspora who use their influence in order to advocate for global justice and bring about positive social change in their respective societies. taswira amplifies the impact and visibility of these artists and creative entrepreneurs through events and the provision of training, funding and networking opportunities.
At taswira, creativity meets social change. The organisation focuses on the commitment to social and climate justice, human rights, anti-racism, gender equality and the strengthening of a modern image of Africa.
Hengeler Mueller advises taswira connects cultures e.V. on licensing and tax law issues.