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Social Impact

Assisting asylum seekers in Greece

In November 2019, we joined a unique pro bono collaboration with five other firms (Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, White & Case, Dentons, Allen & Overy and Ashurst) to support asylum seekers in Lesvos. Together we are training and fielding volunteer lawyers for two-week secondments with ELIL, supporting the ELIL team to prepare more people in the camps of Moria and Kara Tepe for their asylum interviews, and assist refugees with applications to join their family members in other EU Member states.

“There are only about 20 lawyers on Lesvos providing assistance, so that’s more than 1,000 people per lawyer, which means in reality, the majority of people don’t have access to legal aid,” says Philip. “That’s why the partnership with Charles Russell Speechlys and other firms is so critical. The more lawyers that we have in the team and the more volunteers we work with, the more people we can assist. It is as simple as that.”

Rose Carey, Partner and Head of our Immigration team, spent two weeks on a pro bono secondment with ELIL in Lesvos in November 2019. “You do feel that you can make a difference to people while you are there,” she says. “I was reminded of how important it is that we, as a firm, are involved in a project like this to help people who are so desperate that they put everything on the line to try and get to a safe place. Many of the refugees in those camps will go onto other countries or they’ll stay in Greece, and they will contribute to society.”

Our next cohort of pro bono lawyers was set to travel to Lesvos and Samos from April 2020 but due to COVID-19 travel disruption, we are working with ELIL to provide legal support remotely.

Since the pro bono collaboration with Charles Russell Speechlys and the other law firms started, ELIL has assisted more than 2,000 people through one-on-one consultations, group legal information sessions and daily Q&A drop in sessions. Overall, since ELIL was founded in July 2016, it has assisted over 11,000 people.

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