TrustLaw, Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono legal service network, held its first in-person Legal Health Check Workshop on November 29, 2023. SyCipLaw co-hosted the event which was participated in by representatives from 36 civil society organizations (CSOs), non-government organizations (NGOs), and social enterprises. The activity was moderated by TrustLaw Legal Programme Manager for Asia Joanita Britto Menon and Programme Officer for Asia Emmanuele Marie Parra.
The Legal Health Check Workshop seeks to help CSOs and NGOs assess their organizations' legal needs in the areas of Governance, Corporate Structuring and Tax, Finance and Regulatory Compliance, Commercial Contracts and Real Estate, Intellectual Property, Data Protection, Privacy and Technology, Employment, and Legal Research.
SyCipLaw Partners Easter Princess U. Castro-Ty, Joanna Marie O. Joson, and Maria Christina C. Ortua-Ang presented a general overview of the legal landscape relevant to the participants. Ms. Joson discussed the basics of corporate governance, including compliance requirements and guidelines in the holding of members' and board of trustees' meetings. Ms. Castro-Ty (with the assistance of SyCipLaw associate Joseph R. Malcontento) elaborated on the basic principles and key differences in the legal status of employees and consultants. Ms. Ortua-Ang (with the assistance of SyCipLaw associate James Patrick L. Urquiola) covered regulations relating to income tax exemptions for NGOs.
After the presentations, the participants were given time to ask questions and discuss issues raised during the workshop with the speakers. SyCipLaw Partner Ma. Patricia B. Paz-Jacoba and Mr. Urquiola also joined the breakout sessions.
Expressing his support to the activity, SyCipLaw Partner and Head of the Firm's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee Jose Florante M. Pamfilo said “conducting the Legal Health Check Workshop face-to-face is a welcome opportunity to discuss and understand in greater detail the common legal concerns of NGOs and social enterprises. We are more than happy to support TrustLaw's work and provide accessible legal services to organizations working on important but underserved social issues.”
Asked why TrustLaw chose to partner with SyCipLaw in its first Legal Health Check Workshop in the Philippines, Ms. Britto Menon said: “SyCipLaw is the face of pro bono for us [TrustLaw] in the country. SyCipLaw's commitment to pro bono is an inspiration to all firms, not just in the Philippines but across the globe. They have been committed to and continue to deliver the best legal service to all their pro bono clients with excellence and professionalism.”