Corporate social responsibility is intrinsic to our firm's culture, driving our engagement on pressing social issues and playing a critical part in our efforts to navigate new paths to growth for our people. We handle pro bono matters that make a difference in our communities—and help our associates develop their skills through valuable firsthand experience. We foster a diverse and inclusive work environment—and provide our clients with the innovative perspectives of a team rich in talent, experiences, and creativity. We pursue sustainable business practices—and partner with our clients on the environmental issues that impact us all. For us, it's not just social responsibility. It's smart business.
Our lawyers contribute thousands of hours to our pro bono efforts each year. 2015 was an exceptional year for our program, with nearly 99% of our U.S. lawyers and 83% of our international lawyers contributing at least 20 hours of service to worthy causes around the globe.
In one of our firm's largest global pro bono projects to date, we joined with Reporters Without Borders and TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono program, to research and draft the Defence Handbook for Journalists and Bloggers, a unique publication that examines the international laws and treaties that protect freedom of expression and information in jurisdictions around the world. The handbook is vital to helping journalists and bloggers understand the protections and limitations of these laws as they pursue their work. More than 70 lawyers from 17 of our offices contributed to the project. We were named to the National Law Journal's 2016 Pro Bono Hotlist for our work, as well as honored with TrustLaw's Collaboration Award and with the Paris Bar Association's "Team" Pro Bono Award.
In partnership with the Duke Law School Wrongful Convictions Clinic, one of the most successful organizations in America in redressing wrongful convictions in non-capital cases, our lawyers are providing legal assistance on claims of factual innocence that the clinic has already fully screened. We are helping to overturn several wrongful convictions of North Carolina inmates by preparing state and federal habeas briefs on behalf of three inmates who have collectively served approximately 80 years in prison. Our lawyers are also working to determine potential issues for reform in the North Carolina criminal justice system. Since last fall, we have analyzed post-conviction relief under North Carolina state law by reviewing over 200 post-conviction petitions to identify trends across such cases.
We are helping to provide access to clean energy in East Africa through our work with the Acumen Fund. We advised the fund on its equity investment in SolarNow, a Uganda-based company that sells and finances solar home energy systems to the rural population in Uganda and other East African countries. Because only 15% of Ugandan homes have electricity, an affordable solar home solution will have a tremendous impact on this population. By providing access to clean energy and the provision of end-user financing, SolarNow is projected to impact more than 3.8 million lives cumulatively in East Africa by 2018.
In Asia, we partnered with the Chinese Initiative on International Law (CIIL), a nonprofit organization that promotes understanding and study of public international law in China, to conduct legal research on the requirements for establishing and operating non-governmental organizations in China and Hong Kong. Our efforts also included supporting the organization's moot court competition by translating cases and training materials, and serving as trainers and judges for competition participants. Our lawyers also helped to review and translate the organization's report on the Syrian refugee crisis.
As a rising number of refugees continue to seek asylum in Europe, the continent faces a humanitarian crisis and countries such as Germany—which has received the highest number of new asylum applications—are struggling to cope with the influx. Lawyers from our Frankfurt office joined with The University of Giessen and other Frankfurt law firms to form a pro bono coalition to help address this crisis. Through the Refugee Project, our lawyers are assisting refugees with their asylum applications and helping them navigate the German courts. This effort has mobilized the Frankfurt legal community, spurring more and more lawyers to get involved and help address the crisis.
We continued our longstanding support for Christopher House, a nonprofit based in Chicago dedicated to helping at-risk children. Over the past year, our lawyers and professionals participated in the Chicago Charity Challenge, an initiative to motivate local businesses and their employees to give back to the community, with the chance to earn financial prizes for their charity partners. Throughout the challenge, our Chicago office provided more than 3,300 volunteer hours and nearly US$2M in pro bono legal services to support Christopher House's efforts to build a new charter school. We negotiated the property purchase, handled contracts, served as an advocate on the Charter School Task Force, and hosted a career day for middle school and high school students. Paul Hastings won the Challenge's grand prize of $10,000 for Christopher House.
We continue to partner with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to help protect the rights of those in need. Most recently, we joined with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California to represent disabled homeless persons in suing the City of Laguna Beach to compel it to cease police conduct that criminalizes being homeless in Laguna Beach and to provide permanent supportive housing for those in need. Our case asserts that the actions of the city and its police department violate the plaintiffs' rights under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Laguna Beach's homelessness program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Previously, we worked closely with the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU National Prison Project to help achieve a historic settlement in Rosas v. Scott (formerly Rosas v. Baca), a federal class-action suit that alleged a longstanding pattern of violence against inmates in the L.A. County jails. Our efforts on this landmark agreement will help bring widespread reforms to the country's largest jail system.
We take seriously our responsibility of environmental stewardship, and strive to ensure that sustainable best practices are embedded into all areas of our practice. We are committed to changing mindsets, not just behaviors, and look to provide innovative solutions for today's most pressing environmental issues.
We continued our partnership with ClientEarth, an international non-profit environment law organization headquartered in London that brings together law, science, and policy to create practical solutions to key environmental challenges. Paris and Brussels partner Pierre Kirch serves as an advisor, working alongside the organization to litigate key cases before the European courts. Pierre represented our client in cases before the European courts concerning transparency/disclosure by the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency, and the European Food Safety Authority. He also helped secure a favorable preliminary reference ruling from the European Court of Justice in the London pollution levels case. Along with our lawyers in Shanghai, Pierre advised ClientEarth on expanding operations into China.
We chose Earth Day to launch our local office Green Teams program, which galvanizes professionals in each office to further our sustainability goals. Through a series of initiatives and events, we further promoted sustainable practices and helped drive change at the local level. Recently, our Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Green Teams each hosted an office-wide "green week", in which offices were encouraged to change their daily routines to reduce their impact. Activities were focused on conserving energy and water, reusing and recycling, and buying local. In addition, our Frankfurt Green Team recently led a service project at a local meadow orchard in partnership with team members from Frankfurter Verein's "RehaWerkstatt Escherimer Tor" program, which provides work placement for people with disabilities.
We understand that the true power of diversity is only realized in an environment where everyone feels able to share their differences and achieve their potential. Our inclusive work environment enables our people to be themselves and bring their diverse perspectives to the table. Diversity is what fuels our innovation—and our growth. We recruit the best and brightest, and work with a range of organizations to develop an elite, diverse talent base that guides the success of our clients.
Our affinity networks host programs and events that support our firm's diversity and inclusion strategy. The Paul Hastings Affinity Networks (PHANs) seek to promote inclusion, provide professional and client development opportunities, help with the firm's recruiting efforts, and create networking opportunities. Our PHANs have been responsible for many of the firm's most engaging events and progressive policies. We have 14 Women's PHANs, as well as national Asian, Black, LGBT, and Latin Networks, which are open to everyone. We have active partnerships with numerous organizations such as the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. Recently, our LGBT PHAN hosted a discussion of the Institute's latest research for our clients, lawyers, and business professionals. The Williams team spoke of overall progress while spotlighting a tremendous need for continued improvement, particularly in the area of LGBT youth and workplace policies. During the event, several representatives from our clients also shared their poignant stories of coming out in the workplace and how it influenced their careers.
We support and encourage the success of talented women lawyers and business professionals—within our firm, among our clients, and throughout the world. Our women lawyers play an increasingly greater role in leading the firm. We published the fourth edition of our groundbreaking report, Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women in the Boardroom, which looks at the legislative, regulatory, and private sector developments impacting the representation of women on corporate boards globally. Our full report, which can be found at www.paulhastings.com/genderparity, includes developments from more than 40 jurisdictions. In addition, as part of our efforts to better understand what is helping to drive change in this area, the firm partnered with Women Corporate Directors to host a series of boot camps designed to provide an insider's guide as to how board members are selected. Experienced corporate directors, search executives, and partners from our firm provided invaluable insight as they shared their personal experiences.