Legal effort to support Ukrainian refugees wins award
The legal community’s collaborative initiative to support Ukrainian refugees in Ireland has been recognised at the Chambers Ireland Sustainable Business Impact Awards 2023.
Matheson and A&L Goodbody led the collaborative effort, which involved six other law firms — Arthur Cox, William Fry, Walkers, Philip Lee, Dechert and Comyn Kelleher Tobin — and was delivered in partnership with the Irish Red Cross and the Ukraine Ireland Legal Alliance (UILA).
The comprehensive initiative, which won in the Partnership with Charity/Volunteering category, delivered legal outreach clinics and frontline support to 840 Ukrainians displaced by war and receiving refuge on Maynooth University campus over a six-week period in July and August 2022.
A team of 124 volunteer lawyers, law firm professionals and interpreters provided a range of assistance, including:
- developing and resourcing on-site legal information clinics, which provided information on a range of matters including accessing services in Ireland, such as employment, social welfare, education, setting up a business in Ireland and housing;
- distributing €40,000 worth of welfare vouchers;
- providing critical information gathering and data entry support; and
- liaising with host families to assist in the location of suitable accommodation for over 800 Ukrainians.
Niamh Counihan, pro bono partner at Matheson, said: “We are immensely proud to receive the Partnership with Charity (LIC)/Volunteering award, which recognises the collaborative efforts of our firm, the UILA, the Irish Red Cross, and our partner law firms in supporting Ukrainian refugees in Ireland.
“This award is a testament to our commitment to championing social justice and making a positive impact on the lives of those in need and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of collaboration, pro bono work, and the invaluable contributions that the legal community can make towards building a more inclusive and just society.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to each and every pro bono volunteer for their commitment and dedication in supporting these important initiatives.”
David Widger, managing partner of A&L Goodbody, said: “This award as well as those we were shortlisted for, are a testament to all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes across our fantastic teams.
“Our responsible business strategy is at the heart of everything that we do as an organisation, and we are especially proud of the pro bono work that we do and the partnerships we have. To see the difference it makes to charities and organisations such as Depaul and the Red Cross is truly empowering, and we will look to build on this work in the years ahead.”
Rosemarie Hayden, Irish Red Cross pro bono and volunteer coordinator, added: “It has been a wonderful experience to collaborate with Matheson as part of the Ukraine Ireland Legal Alliance Ukrainian support programme.
“The benefits of the engagement ranged from the benefit to clients who greatly appreciate the pro-bono high quality legal assistance; the lawyers involved have benefited from the personal satisfaction of involvement in a hugely impactful programme directly assisting people with immediate significant issues, and the organisations all benefit from increased collaboration and cooperation across an ever growing range of issues.”
The Chambers Ireland Sustainable Business Impact Awards showcase best practice in sustainable development and social responsibility undertaken by companies of all sizes across Ireland.