Access to healthy food is a fundamental human need. The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting supply chains and threatening the food security of billions of people. Shearman & Sterling’s lawyers and business services professionals are organizing donations to local food banks and hunger prevention organizations, and our lawyers are providing pro bono legal assistance to farmers, food service workers, nonprofits and food-related small businesses around the world.
- In partnership with the the Food Law Initiative of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, our lawyers are providing pro bono legal services to farmers and agricultural businesses.
- Shearman & Sterling lawyers and business services personnel participated in hunger relief fundraising in various U.S. cities, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, Menlo Park, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The Austin effort benefits the Central Texas Food Bank. The Dallas fundraiser benefits the North Texas Food Bank. The Houston effort benefits the Houston Food Bank. The joint Bay Area effort benefits the San Francisco Marin Food Bank. The Washington, D.C. fundraiser benefits the Capital Area Food Bank. Our personnel in Seoul are organizing a fundraiser to address food insecurity.
Healthcare workers and first responders around the globe are in dire need of personal protective equipment (PPE) to stay safe and healthy. In addition to donating directly to hospitals, Shearman & Sterling’s lawyers and business services professionals across three continents donated funds to help procure PPE directly from manufacturers, and get it to healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A global fundraising effort began in our Asia offices (Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo) and has expanded to include our European and Americas offices (New York, Milan and Rome to date). Shearman & Sterling employees donated these funds to protect our health care workers and first responders on three continents.
- Funds raised for Italy benefit two hospitals addressing Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak.
- Funds raised in New York have been donated to help purchase PPE for health care workers in the city’s hospitals.
- In addition, team members based in China tapped into their local network to procure medical-grade masks directly from various manufacturers. These masks were shipped to New York and to Tokyo for donation to healthcare workers.
Social isolation measures have exacerbated child custody disputes, domestic abuse, care for children with unmet educational or other needs, and seniors confined or isolated as they shelter in place. Shearman & Sterling’s lawyers and business services professionals address family issues compounded by the pandemic by providing assistance to low-income individuals and the charities supporting them.
- Team members in London and New York are participating in a program organized by Tower Hamlets Friends & Neighbours and Citymeals on Wheels to conduct weekly phone calls to isolated senior citizens.
- Our lawyers in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. are seeking the release of detained individuals at a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 at detention centers and in jails.
- Shearman & Sterling lawyers are working with low-income senior citizens in New York and Houston to help draft wills and end-of-life documents.
- Our UK-qualified lawyers in London and other offices around the globe are preparing witness statements and motions for injunctive relief to address domestic violence and conducting a remote clinic on family law related issues caused by domestic violence.
The needs of nonprofit organizations have increased while their staffs work remotely. Working hand-in-hand with our community partners, Shearman & Sterling’s lawyers help them to fulfill their missions as they respond to the pandemic. For example:
- On behalf of Lawyers Without Borders, our lawyers are conducting research on the impact of COVID-19 on wildlife trafficking, counterterrorism efforts and child labor.
- Lawyers in our London office are researching UK charity relief programs in coordination with LawWorks and Advocates for International Development (A4ID).
- Our lawyers in Austin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York, Singapore, Toronto and Washington, D.C. are working with The Nature Conservancy, on a pro bono basis. More than 400 Shearman & Sterling lawyers are bilingual, allowing us to leverage our advice into many languages. Our team has translated documents into five languages other than English.
- Shearman & Sterling lawyers are advising many of our existing nonprofit pro bono clients on contracts, real estate and financing matters related to the impact of COVID-19.
- Lawyers in our Hong Kong office partnered with PILnet, a global public interest law organization, on a webinar titled “NGOs’ Contracts and Force Majeure Amidst COVID-19” to provide answers to the challenges nonprofit organizations face in this crisis.
Small Business Assistance
The economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic are particularly damaging to small businesses, which often lack the resources and capital of their larger competitors. Shearman & Sterling’s lawyers are offering pro bono advice by creating online resources, volunteering at legal clinics and engaging in limited scope representation to assist small businesses facing acute needs as a result of the pandemic.
- Our San Francisco and Menlo Park offices are providing targeted assistance to small businesses through virtual office hours and limited scope, ongoing advice.
- In Austin, Dallas, and Houston, our lawyers are participating in several statewide efforts to assist small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.
- In partnership with the City Bar Justice Center’s Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) and Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), our lawyers formed a rapid response team of volunteers to assist struggling small businesses in New York City through the CBJC’s COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic.
- Working with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, lawyers in the Washington, D.C. office are providing limited scope pro bono assistance to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.