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14 June 20223 minute read

DLA Piper wins Thomson Reuters Foundation TrustLaw Award for empowering social enterprise to expand its impact

DLA Piper has won the Powered by Pro Bono Award at the 2022 TrustLaw Awards for providing pro bono legal support to Smart Air, a social enterprise founded in China with a mission to help people breathe better through low-cost air purifiers.

Presented by Thomson Reuters Foundation, the TrustLaw Awards celebrate the remarkable pro bono projects undertaken by the legal community with NGOs and social enterprises worldwide. The Powered by Pro Bono Award recognises an NGO or social enterprise that has used pro bono legal advice to scale up their operations, improve the delivery of their social mission or pivot their activities to make a more significant impact.

DLA Piper was presented with this award jointly alongside our pro bono client, Smart Air – a social enterprise that protects people from the harm of air pollution. The founders of Smart Air invented their own air purifier in China in 2013 when they could not find affordable ones in the market. Since then, it has produced low-cost air purifiers, masks and other tools for over 100,000 people in more than 30 countries. As a certified B corporation, Smart Air's business practice is verified for meeting high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability by B Lab. The organization reinvests all its profits in its projects so that more people can enjoy the benefits.

The firm worked with Smart Air on a pro bono basis, advising the organization on intellectual property rights protection in China and Australia. Social enterprises and NGOs often find it financially challenging to obtain legal advice on compliance and regulatory issues. By offering pro bono assistance to social enterprises with limited budgets, DLA Piper enables them to focus on their mission and expand the scale of their projects to maximize the social impact.

Paddy Robertson, Founder and CEO of Smart Air, worked closely with DLA Piper: “The lawyers gave us a better understanding of patents, which allowed us to go more confidently into partnership with a manufacturer to produce our latest low-cost air purifier.”

Reking Chen, Partner, Intellectual Property and Technology at DLA Piper in Beijing, added: “We’re delighted our collaboration has been recognized in this way. DLA Piper is committed to helping clients and communities transition to and thrive in a more sustainable future. Air quality is a core element of sustainable development. We built this multijurisdictional partnership with Smart Air and support them in tackling this issue, which affects all of society. We look forward to seeing this partnership blossom to bring more benefit to the world.”

The DLA Piper team included Reking Chen, Partner, and Shuting Zhang, Consultant, both based in Beijing, as well as Jessie Buchan, Partner, Val Warzecha, Senior Associate, and Emma Rodigari, Trade Mark Paralegal, all from the Sydney office.

Find out more about the project by watching this impact video from TrustLaw by Thomson Reuters Foundation.