Case Study on TrustLaw: How the Thomson Reuters Foundation Built the World’s Largest Pro Bono Legal Network to Serve the Poor

Fri, 27 May 2016 14:57 PM
Author: Thomson Reuters Foundation, pfc Social Impact Advisors and the University of Oxford
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Today the Thomson Reuters Foundation is a global leader in supporting free independent journalism, human rights, women’s empowerment, and the rule of law. One of its key programmes, TrustLaw, is the world’s largest broker of free legal services to NGOs and social enterprises and has organised over $70 million worth of free legal assistance to organizations around the world.

This case study examines how Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa worked collaboratively with Thomson Reuters leadership, staff, leading global law firms, activists, and clients to build TrustLaw provide opportunities for lawyers and NGOs around the globe to work together to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

This case is a part of a teaching series that examines the strategies global leaders use to tackle the world’s most complex and “wickedly” difficult problems. Each case study in this series offers a unique approach that is intended not to prescribe but to stimulate thinking and discussion among leaders facing similar challenges.  According to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Assessment, these are the kinds of threats that keep world leaders across sectors awake at night—poverty and the systemic and devastating consequences of income disparity; climate change and the volatility of energy supplies; food and water scarcity; and cyber attacks.

The Wicked Problem framework, developed almost four decades ago, helps leaders be more effective in tackling these seemingly intractable challenges. Since then, much has been learned about what it takes for leaders to “find the win in wicked.” We use the term “Deliberate Leaders” to describe those who are acting with intention and who accept not only the risk of the challenge ahead, but also the consequences of their actions. The story of TrustLaw offers powerful illustrations of many of the elements of Deliberate Leadership.

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