Legal Defense and Support

GIJN is pleased to offer a variety of free legal advice to selected watchdog media organizations, thanks to our partnerships with three outstanding organizations.

Legal Defense

Journalism watchdog groups are eligible for pro bono legal advice, thanks to GIJN’s partnership with Media Defence, a nonprofit that provides legal support to media organizations. GIJN will first assess an organization’s need for these services and then Media Defence can step in. Media Defence will offer legal support globally in instances related to legal defense only. Other services, such as  pre-publication vetting and contract review are available below.

Please contact GIJN’s Help Desk for further information.

The Vance Center Legal Support

GIJN is pleased to offer additional free legal support to selected watchdog media organizations, thanks to the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, a nonprofit that provides pro bono legal representation to journalists and civil society organizations with its network of more than 600 lawyers around the world.

The Vance Center will support GIJN Advisory Services by providing advice on the legal support and related practices needed by watchdog organizations to sustain their work effectively. Such support includes:

  • Pre-publication or pre-broadcast review;
  • Registration as a nonprofit or NGO;
  • Contract review and negotiation;

Pro bono pre-publication or pre-broadcast advice will be offered to selected watchdog media organizations who fulfill the following criteria:

  • Request must be from a registered nonprofit media organization;
  • Watchdog organization has put a selected story through both fact-checking and editorial processes;
  • Watchdog organization is prepared to share the details of the investigation and evidence gathering process;
  • Watchdog organization has previously discussed legal and other risks involved in pursuing specific reporting under discussion.

Interested in applying for assistance? Contact us through the GIJN’s Help Desk for a referral.

TrustLaw Legal Support

GIJN is also pleased to offer additional free legal support to our member and partner organizations, thanks to TrustLaw, the global pro bono service of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. TrustLaw connects NGOs and social enterprises working across a range of sectors, including leading watchdog organizations, with the best law firms and corporate legal teams, to provide them with free legal assistance. With a community of more than 7,000 members in over 198 countries, TrustLaw is the world’s largest global pro bono network.

Note: This is not assistance for libel review, defamation cases, or for legal defense in lawsuits or prosecutions. But TrustLaw offers invaluable free help on a wide range of legal issues facing watchdog newsrooms and nonprofits, including:

  • Contract review and negotiation
  • Commercial contracts and real estate
  • Finance and regulatory compliance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Data protection, privacy and technology
  • Employment
  • Corporate structuring and tax
  • Researching laws across a number of jurisdictions or assisting with an in-depth analysis of laws

As GIJN is an official referral partner of this program, if referred by GIJN, your application for TrustLaw membership will be fast-tracked. Pro bono advice and assistance will be offered to selected watchdog media organizations who fulfill the following TrustLaw membership criteria:

  • Request must be from a registered non-profit media organization or social enterprise (for-profit organizations must demonstrate a public or legally binding commitment to reinvesting most of their profits to further their social mission);
  • Non-discriminatory, apolitical and non-proselytizing;
    Working towards a social mission that seeks to address social, humanitarian, or environmental challenges;
  • Able to share at least one annual report detailing their finances, activities and programs;
  • Able to demonstrate their sustainability with evidence of funding or support for the 12-month period following the application; and
  • Self-governing, with a board of directors that manages the activities of the organization.

What TrustLaw cannot assist with:

  • Legal assistance for individuals, including matters related to visa/individual migration cases
  • Requests for pro bono assistance on behalf of a third party
  • Litigation, disputes and disagreements
  • Urgent assistance. There is a minimum one-month waiting period before TrustLaw can connect you to a lawyer.
  • Translations of documents
  • Pre-publication legal advice

The Process:

  1. Send a request to the GIJN Helpdesk.
  2. GIJN will refer the member to TrustLaw (TL)
  3. Once you become a TL member you can post your legal question on the TL Portal
  4. Schedule a scoping call with a TL in-house lawyer to discuss your legal request.They will then draft your project
  5. Once you approve the draft it will be posted on the portal for law firms to see for around 1 week depending on when its posted
  6. Once your project is posted to TL’s legal network, the TL team will be in touch to notify you of any offers you have received.
  7. If you have received multiple offers of assistance, TL will provide the details of each so that you can choose which firm you would like to work with.
  8. When you choose a firm, TL will send an email introducing you to the lawyer
  9. If at any point you have questions about how to proceed, or if you have difficulty getting in touch with the law firm, reach out to TL.
  10. Following the introduction to the legal team, TL will check in with both parties periodically to ensure the work is progressing according to schedule, and to offer TL’s assistance if needed.

Interested in applying for assistance? Contact us through the GIJN’s Help Desk for a referral.