Shearman And Sterling

Making a World of Difference

At Shearman & Sterling, we believe that equal access to justice is vital for a fair society—especially for indigent individuals and nonprofit organizations with limited access to legal services. That’s why engaging in pro bono work is so important to every lawyer’s individual practice. In that spirit, we encourage our lawyers to leverage their skills to make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world.

Our pro bono practice is global and multi-jurisdictional. In 2022 alone, Shearman & Sterling lawyers and staff devoted close to 37,000 hours on a wide variety of pro bono matters. Our lawyers campaigned for the protection of fundamental rights, assisted low-income individuals, performed microfinance and development work on behalf of social entrepreneurs and worked on projects, with the aim of sustaining and protecting our natural environment.

Over the history of the firm, we have cultivated an impressive track record of delivering practical results in support of community causes. To achieve these successful outcomes, our lawyers draw on their outstanding legal skills coupled with a deep dedication to social justice. This long-standing combination is the hallmark of the Shearman & Sterling pro bono practice, and a tradition we intend to preserve with each new generation of lawyers.

Climate Change/Environmental/Sustainability 

Protecting Nature

Partnered with the Earth Law Center and Lawyers for Nature to craft innovative methods to advance the interests of the natural environment in corporate boardrooms.

Environmental and Human Rights

Conducted research for the Rainforest Foundation regarding issues that impact indigenous peoples and local communities as a consequence of the proposed adoption of the Global Diversity Framework under the UN’s Convention for Biological Diversity.

Marine Preservation

Negotiated sovereign debt swap agreements for The Nature Conservancy under the Blue Bonds for Ocean Preservation Program with the governments of Barbados and Belize.

Natural Climate Solution

Advised Pure Leapfrog on governance arrangements for an innovative UK-based natural climate initiative.

Regional Conservation

Provided transactional support on a Madagascar conservation fund for Conservation International, an environmental nonprofit that empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for our global biodiversity and by extension, the well-being of humanity.

River Protection

Researched the legal frameworks that govern rivers in Angola and Namibia on behalf of International Rivers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting rivers and the communities that depend on them.

Biodiversity Compliance

Advised on biodiversity obligations including high-level assessment of compliance and enforcement mechanisms.

Inequality/Protection of Rights 

Women’s Rights

Gender Equality

Performed research on gender pay gap laws for The Fawcett Society, a charity advocating for gender equality and women’s rights.

Investment in Building an Inclusive World

Supporting Impact Investment Exchange in the structuring and sale of Women’s Livelihood BondTM. The Women’s Livelihood BondTM Series is an innovative series of blended finance instruments designed to empower three million underserved women in developing countries through sustainable livelihoods.

Women’s Health

Researched legal frameworks to help international nonprofit 28 Too Many bring an end to female genital mutilation/cutting.

Maternity Rights

Supporting Maternity Action, the UK’s leading charity committed to promoting, protecting and enhancing the rights of all pregnant women, new mothers and their families to employment, social security and health care.

Pregnant and Parenting Students

Conducted a 50-state survey of laws, regulations and administrative codes for the National Women’s Law Center that referenced the rights of pregnant and parenting students in K-12 and/or higher education.


Asylum Rights

Contributed to a Country Conditions research project for GongGam Human Rights Law Foundation to support asylum applicants seeking asylum in Korea based on their LGBTQIA+ status originating from Afghanistan, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

Changing Identities

Partnered with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund to support transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary people in legally changing their names to be consistent with their gender identities and appearance.

SOGIESC Discrimination

Supporting ILGA-Europe, an independent, international non-governmental umbrella organization that brings together organizations working towards equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe and Central Asia.

Human Rights

Crafted a research project for international nongovernmental organization, OutRight International, that fights for the human rights of LGBTQIA+ people around the world.

Refugee Rights

Performed research on Country-of-Origin conditions with TakeRoot Justice for LGBTQIA+ individuals and human rights campaigners from Trinidad and Haiti.

Racial Justice and Equality

Police Reform in Louisiana

Worked with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) to identify barriers to police accountability. These barriers have historically reinforced a discriminatory system, criminalizing poverty and enabling civil-rights violations against people of color. The results of the Police Reform Project are currently being used to select high-potential jurisdictions where meaningful change in conduct and policy can be supported and executed.

Addressing issues that negatively impact Black people

Helped Black Thrive create a separate legal entity, Black Thrive Global, which addresses the systemic issues and inequalities that negatively impact the mental health and wellbeing of Black people.

Voting Rights

Partnered with the Legal Defense Fund to litigate a claim against Arkansas government officials for violating Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, alleging that the current method of electing justices and judges to the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals illegally denies Black voters the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

Racial Justice in Death Penalty Cases

Reviewed historic jury selection records of death penalty cases, demonstrating potential racial discrimination in the juror selection process for Amicus.

Equitable Entrepreneurship

Helped create an innovative funding model for GMCVO, a Greater Manchester based charity that is building a cooperative structure for social entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in partnership with the BASE network.


Afghanistan Evacuation

Working with 30 Birds, an organization supporting the evacuation of hundreds of at-risk female students escaping Kabul, Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.

Reception Conditions

Performed research for Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid regarding inadequate reception conditions for unrecognized minors under the Convention Against Torture.

Represent Immigrant Youth Facing Removal (Deportation) Proceedings

Worked with The Safe Passage Project representing unaccompanied minors to secure lawful permanent residence for undocumented youth living in the United States.

Exceptional Case Funding Applications

Partnering with Together with Migrant Children to help eligible and destitute undocumented families draft Exceptional Case Funding applications to help them secure specialist immigration help, with the aim of giving them the opportunity to live, work and study and move out of destitution.

U-Adjustment for U-Visa and VAWA Recipients

Alongside nonprofit Her Justice, assisted undocumented women victims of domestic violence and other crimes to acquire immigration status through the Violence Against Women Act Self-Petition, U, and T visa processes.

Undocumented Children

Partnering with KIND UK on life-changing casework on behalf of undocumented children, drafting applications for leave to remain and/or citizenship to be submitted to the Home Office.

Access to Justice/Protection of Rights 

Advocacy Against Corporal Punishment

Conducted research for Lawyers for Good Government on US state laws that allow public school personnel to physically abuse children in their care.

Anti-Human Trafficking

Supported by the Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit to advise Hope for Justice, a charity providing independent advocacy for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Accountability Mechanisms for War Crimes

Prepared a legal memorandum focused on accountability mechanisms for war crimes committed in Ukraine for the Public International Law and Policy Group.

Human Rights at Sea Arbitration

Creating a platform dedicated to providing victims of human rights abuse at sea with an alternative route to justice via international arbitration.

Human Rights Defenders

Worked with International Service for Human Rights to conduct a legal analysis of Model Law for the promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders against draft national instruments on defender protection in numerous countries.

Child Trafficking and Online Child Sexual Exploitation

Provided materials to train prosecutors on the legal framework surrounding child trafficking in Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries alongside the nonprofit organization Lawyers Without Borders.

Veterans Rights

Working with the National Veterans Legal Services Program to assist veterans with military discharge upgrades, securing access to benefits, healthcare and employment.

Welfare Benefits Appeals

Partnering with Z2K to support low-income individuals in need of first-tier tribunal representation after being denied sickness or disability benefits.

Community Development/Non-profit Support 

Social Impact Through Innovative Solutions

Advised on corporate governance for Games and Learning, Inc., a social enterprise that makes transformative learning experiences accessible to low-income families.

Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)

Advised The ONE Campaign, a global organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty and preventable disease, on the legal framework by which governments can lend or donate their share of the IMF’s recent allocation of US$650 billion in reserve assets to countries in need of funding to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Debt Loan Facility

Provided loan documentation to Moneyline, a social enterprise that provides financial products to lower income households to improve their financial health and reduce the costs of credit.

Wildlife Trafficking

Crafted a project to improve prosecutorial capacity in complex wildlife trafficking cases in Kenya and Tanzania in collaboration with Lawyers Without Borders.

Housing Affordability

Drafted loan documentation for Homes for Good, a social enterprise letting agency with the goal of providing high-quality affordable rental housing.

Special Education Needs and Disabilities

Developed a case review project for Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA), a charity that supports children with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families.