A new website connects lawyers who want to volunteer time with non profits and social entrepreneurs looking for free legal services.

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A new website connects lawyers who want to volunteer time with non profits and social entrepreneurs looking for free legal services.

TrustLaw Connect is an online service promoting pro bono legal work around the world. It works a bit like Kiva in that people requesting and people donating help are vetted and then matched through the service, which is run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It’s free to both beneficiaries and providers.

More than 60 law firms and 80 non profits have signed up, including Seattle-based Teachers Without Borders. For social entrepreneurs, however, the service doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals. Instead it works by referral from organizations such as Ashoka, the Grameen Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Skoll Foundation.

Examples of the kind of work it supports are writing legal documents, advice on intellectual property, governance, drafting funding agreements, negotiating contracts and advice on charity laws. Lawyers Without Borders offers a similar service.

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TrustLaw says it doesn’t help with litigation against individuals, companies or governments, which may limit its impact. Still at a time when nonprofit resources are constrained, getting professional services donated could save valuable funds for programs.

The foundation said its overall aim is to improve access to the rule of law and greater transparency. The site is also devoted to news and information about anti-corruption activities around the world.