Flavie Fuentes, a global leader in designing pro bono programs, including in the legal and media freedom space, has joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press as its first Pro Bono Director.
In this new role, Fuentes will work closely with Microsoft, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (DWT), and the Reporters Committee to lead and further develop the Protecting Journalists Pro Bono Program (PJPP), which was launched last year by Microsoft and DWT. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation earlier this year provided a grant to the Reporters Committee to help with expansion efforts. The program is currently staffed by volunteers drawn from DWT’s First Amendment and media law practice and Microsoft’s in-house legal department and works with reporters and small news organizations who are not otherwise able to afford legal support.
As RCFP’s new Pro Bono Director, Fuentes will also take on an immediate operational role to assist PJPP with its growing list of clients. In addition, she will survey the legal needs of journalists across the U.S.; work with nonprofit and local newsrooms, law school clinics, and legal services organizations to promote interest in the initiative; and seek additional law firms and corporate legal departments to join the program.
“The scaling of this promising new program could not have found a better leader than Flavie Fuentes,” said Bruce D. Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “All of the partners are eager to see her put her extensive pro bono expertise to work for the benefit of the many journalists in need of legal support.”
Fuentes joins the Reporters Committee from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, where she oversaw the global pro bono service, TrustLaw, in North America and the Caribbean. For three years, she managed the service’s core activities, focused on the foundation’s media freedom activities, and collaborated with key international players such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Media Defence, and UNESCO.
Prior to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Fuentes worked in London as the Deputy Head of Partnerships and Legal Services for Advocates for International Development, a UK charity that empowers lawyers to eradicate poverty. In addition to managing a network of nonprofits and social enterprises to help them better understand their legal needs, she also collaborated with several UN agencies, especially through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals. Fuentes also previously worked in Geneva, Switzerland, for the International Social Service, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of children’s rights in international adoptions.
She is a multi-lingual and dual-qualified lawyer in France, England, and Wales, with experience practicing immigration and family law and an academic background in international human rights.
“As a lawyer trained in human rights, the vital importance of a free press as one of the pillars of democratic societies has always been fully evident to me,” Fuentes said. “Building out this program, at the crossroads of the nonprofit, private, and legal sectors, is both an outstanding challenge and exciting promise for freedom of the press in the U.S. I trust this new initiative will help increase journalists’ and newsrooms’ legal awareness, support them with their legal needs, and strengthen media freedom at large.”
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.