Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024 with Akin’s Women Lawyers

March 5, 2024
Category: Communications | Platinum Sponsor Series

For International Women’s Day 2024, we spotlight a group of remarkable women who go above and beyond to promote access to justice.

Akin is a major force behind our efforts to help exploited migrant domestic workers (MDWs) even after they return home. Akin’s lawyers have been providing pro bono services to JWB in support of MDWs since 2017. Here we celebrate Akin’s women lawyers who have made pro bono work part of their lives and consequently lifted up many other lives. We are in awe of these women and their achievements.

A firm dedicated to ESG, DEI and Pro bono service

Akin is one of the largest and most diverse law firms leading the international trade landscape. Akin is dedicated to helping disadvantaged communities, leveraging their experience, resources and passion of lawyers to maximize access to justice, community development and the rule of law. 

More than 70% of lawyers at the firm have allocated over 90 hours annually to pro bono projects, such as death penalty trial defence, human and animal rights, and education reforms. In 2022, Akin was named Pro Bono Innovator of the year by Bloomberg Law for leveraging technology to reach and serve vulnerable populations, such as building remote clinics for Afghan refugees.

As well as being a valued partner with Justice Without Borders, Akin partners with Asylum Aid, Harvard International Human Rights Clinic and Her Justice to name a few.

Remarkable Akin Women Lawyers in Pro Bono Work

When asked about their pro bono work experiences, we loved the responses …

Charis Ma, a litigation Associate in Hong Kong commented, “ As a legal professional, not only is it our duty to serve our clients in the best way possible, but we have a social duty to provide those without means access to the legal system in Hong Kong. Everyone deserves equal rights and access to justice regardless of their background and socioeconomic status. 

Simrhan Khetani (London), who volunteered for prison reform charities, added, “Law firms possess the resources, people and expertise to offer highly effective pro bono assistance and cause material differences to people’s lives. However, the true effectiveness of these resources relies on the active involvement of individuals.”

Serena Lee, a Tax Partner in London who volunteered for UK Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network, said “The work gives me a fresh perspective – the challenges faced by NGOs in Sierra Leone tends to be very different to those I am generally faced with”. 

Naomi Nip, an Investment Funds Associate in London who volunteered for Asian Women Development Plan International (AWDPI), finds fulfilment in enabling female empowerment and amplification of women’s voices.  “I am glad to be part of the Akin team advising on the structuring and resource management of an Asian women-focussed NGO”.

Jackie Lewis, a Corporate & Finance Counsel (Washington) commented, “My mission is to ensure JWB and other NGO clients to stay compliant with applicable laws, so they are not bogged down with legal governance. I am glad to use this specific expertise to help organizations that truly make a difference in the world”.

Other pro bono women lawyer of note is  Jessica Mannon, winner of the Julia Ghahramani Immigration Advocacy Award.  In 2022, she represented a mother and son seeking asylum after escaping domestic abuse in Honduras, winning the case after two days of trial.  The task was challenging, not only in terms of mastering legal technicalities but also on a more personal and emotional level, mentally preparing the clients to testify about the abuse they underwent.  Similarly deserving of recognition is Julia McEnroe, recipient of the Diane Streat Award, she is a key centre of excellence for other lawyers navigating the immigration courts for their pro bono clients.  

Akin & Justice Without Borders’ partnership 

Since 2017, Akin has contributed over 1,542 pro bono hours to JWB’s litigation, capacity building and strategic development efforts.

One of Justice Without Borders’ first instances of collaboration with Akin was in 2020.  Ava (not her real name), a migrant domestic worker in Hong Kong was sent to work abroad with her employers in another country. Not only Ava’s passport was confiscated, she was overworked and denied days off. Her salary and termination payment was withheld after she was fired on the spot.  JWB and Akin cooperated across multiple countries to track down the former employer.  In just a few months, Akin was able to secure a settlement that meant Ava received compensation to give her some financial security and the chance to move on.  

Ruby Tam, an International Arbitration Associate (Hong Kong), summarizes, “ Having been raised by a wonderful Indonesian domestic worker, working with JWB has been a deeply personal experience.  It has been immensely rewarding to be able to use my legal expertise to empower marginalized communities in Hong Kong.” 

Velma Cao, an Investment Funds Associate (Abu Dhabi) added, “Our partnership with JWB has been rewarding. Being able to connect with people who have less fortune humbles me and makes me appreciate everything I have – that includes my knowledge and the expertise I am developing, which I hope to use for the greater good one day.”

Akin is a key player on the world legal stage.  Let us celebrate Akin’s extraordinary contributions to helping and empowering vulnerable women all over the world through their pro bono service. 

#IWD2024 #InspireInclusion #ProBono #Akin #justicewithoutborders #accesstojustice #womeninlaw #FemaleEmpowerment

Written by Lucy Skrine, PR Fellow

Graphic Design by Yasmin Elhassine, PR Fellow