‘One of my dreams is to establish a NautaDutilh impact fund which would enable us to increase our impact on the communities in which we live’, says Managing Partner Petra Zijp, when asked about the role law firms can play in their communities. ‘I see a lot of enthusiasm within the firm when it comes to community engagement, ranging from positions on the supervisory boards of cultural organisations to coaching children in need. We encourage our employees to contribute their time and resources to such worthy causes. The CSR Sabbatical and ND Verdubbelaar are great examples. We also value these types of contributions in our annual assessments. An impact fund, serving as an ‘umbrella’ for all our community outreach initiatives, would help us to create more awareness and visibility, motivate more employees and connect with civil society in the areas where we can make the biggest difference.’
Access to education
We believe that (access to) good education (SDG 4) is an important step towards achieving equality of opportunity and a prerequisite for empowering today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders.
NautaDutilh offers a full-time four-month training programme for starting lawyers, the NDinstitute. Participants learn how to handle cases, clients and responsibilities. We realise, however, that not everyone has access to quality education. Therefore, we have joined forces with various NGOs which empower children from underprivileged backgrounds with the skills, knowledge and guts they need to find a place in a society that matches their capabilities.
We have been a partner of IMC Weekendschool and JINC for many years. IMC Weekendschool provides schooling on Sundays for children (aged 10-14) who grow up in socioeconomically disadvantaged environments. Each year, we organise a four-day law course in which we teach children about the legal profession. JINC arranges mini-internships for primary school students to familiarise them with the different professions within, for example, a law firm. The idea is to show them the importance of all jobs at a law firm, from secretary to lawyer and from the mailroom to the boardroom. Through our partnership with Be.Face, several colleagues have mentored students to prepare them for entry to the workforce and improve their chances of finding employment. Finally, in cooperation with Welcome, every other month we organise a Welcome lunch between newcomers to the Netherlands (mainly refugees) and our employees to create greater understanding and forge connections with newcomers and the local community so as to contribute to their integration.
Access to water
We believe that (access to) water and sanitation (SDG 6) is at the core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet and thereby instrumental in empowering the next generation.
In order to better understand this issue and determine how we can best contribute, we entered into a partnership with IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, the world’s largest international graduate water education facility. Last year, two of our partners participated as panelists in the Institute’s 6th International Symposium on Knowledge and Capacity for the Water Sector.
Raising awareness is another area in which we believe we can contribute, even if we start small. In 2019 we added the Nairobi water bottle to our business gifts offering. The purchase of these bottles supports Join the Pipe. For each water bottle we purchase, a bottle is donated to a child in Africa. People from our London office have volunteered at the Whitechapel Mission, a centre that provides food and shelter to the homeless in East London. We also supported one of our associates in Belgium who, together with Belgian Lawyers for Africa, raised € 12,500 from their network for an orphanage in Malawi, by spreading the message ‘It’s legal to care’. Our firm donated via the ND Verdubbelaar an additional € 2,500. This amount was used, amongst other things, to drill boreholes to provide reliable sources of clean water.
Access to justice
Making legal advice and the legal system more accessible to all (SDG 16) is not only a key part of our CSR efforts but essential to who we are as a law firm.
Our most significant contribution to ensuring access to justice is without a doubt our pro bono work, which we actively promote and in which many of our colleagues participate. For more information, see the chapter of this report entitled Our society. In addition, we are actively involved in Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), a Dutch foundation that promotes and protects the independence of the legal profession through supporting and empowering lawyers facing reprisals, interference and restrictions for simply doing their job. Last year, we organised, together with L4L, a webinar on LGBT+ rights in Uganda, during which we interviewed human rights lawyer and LGBT+ rights defender Shibolo Awali Sean.
An offshoot of the My Human Rights Hero exhibition was displayed at our Amsterdam and Rotterdam offices. This exhibition, co-sponsored by the NGO Justice & Peace, celebrated 70 years of human rights and called attention to the fact that ‘many human rights heroes risk their lives questioning wrongdoings and abuse’. Joost Italianer, one of our partners, was featured in the exhibition as a human rights hero.