February 17 th, 2021 / Latin Lawyer and The Vance Center’s
Below we share an extract of the results of the Latin Lawyer and The Vance Center’s Annual Pro Bono Survey, 2020, in which Centro Mexicano Pro Bono AC is mentioned. You will find the full note in: Latin Lawyer
The latest results from our annual research indicate that despite a year of unique and severe challenges, law firms are as committed as ever to doing pro bono. We report on what firms are doing to push their efforts to the next level.
“Shearman gave me the opportunity to work full time on Latin America, and I cared deeply in helping the development of the region. It’s who I am and it’s what I do.” –Antonia Stopler–
Latin Lawyer and the Vance Center would like to thank the following clearing houses for their help encouraging firms to take part in our survey and for their feedback on their local pro bono communities: the Comisión de Trabajo Pro Bono in Argentina; Brazil’s Instituto Pro Bono; the Fundación Pro Bono in Chile; the Fundación Pro Bono Colombia; the Costa Rican Comisión Pro Bono; the Dominican Republic’s Fundación Pro Bono; Fundación Pro Bono Guatemala; Fundación Barra Mexicana, Appleseed and Centro Mexicano Pro Bono in Mexico; CIDSEP in Paraguay; the Alianza Pro Bono in Peru; Fundación Pro Bono Uruguay; and ProVene in Venezuela.
Read the full note: Pro bono survey
Today, the commitments set out by the declaration have served as the gold standard for pro bono work across Latin America and it is fair to say the region’s law firms are no longer strangers to the practice. There are now 13 clearing houses across Latin America and some are even drafting their own pro bono standards to address unique challenges local to them. Mexico’s three clearing houses – Appleseed Mexico, Centro Mexicano Pro Bono and Fundación Barra Mexicana – as well as Hogan Lovells (Mexico) drafted the Mexican Pro Bono Standards in 2018.
Pro bono in Latin America could not have gotten to where it is today without the efforts of Stolper, Crider and several other key individuals. Part of Stolper’s role in 2005 was to draw on her experience at the Foreign Service and as a partner to recruit Latin American firms to the cause. “I became one of the key cheerleaders for the declaration, which has become an unmitigated success,” Stolper says. “It’s really transformative work. I’ll never forget being in Mexico, being in a meeting with Tom Mueller-Gastell from Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, SC where he called me a missionary evangelist.”
Read the full note: Lifetime achievment award: Antonia Stopler
Other platforms have enabled pro bono work to continue this year. For example, Mexico’s three clearing houses – Centro Mexicano ProBono, Appleseed and Fundación Barra Mexicana – organised Facebook Live sessions to provide legal advice to around 30,000 volunteer doctors working on the front-line during the pandemic.
The size of the audience tuning into the clearing houses’ Facebook Live demonstrates how technology can maximise the impact of pro bono efforts more broadly. Digital platforms can tap into a bigger number of pro bono clients than an in-person event could. Ana Roque, an associate at PPU (Peru), sees it as an opportunity. “The covid-19 pandemic has exposed the needs of more vulnerable people, and as lawyers we have to take this as an opportunity to find new ways to reach a wider audience of pro bono clients. Producing a video on legal training for these vulnerable people and using social media are some examples of how we can do this,” she says.
Several clearing houses have reported a boom in interest for digital legal booklets. In turn, this has presented opportunities for different entities to collaborate on a common cause. Centro Mexicano ProBono worked with counterparts Appleseed and Fundación Barra Mexicana in collaboration with 26 law firms, three bar associations and several in-house counsel to create a 22-chapter online guide to help people deal with the effects of covid-19. Covering civil, criminal, labour and environmental legal issues impacting Mexico’s most vulnerable people, the guide is regularly updated as the situation changes from week to week. It can be downloaded from all three clearing houses’ websites, as well as that of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The guide has been downloaded from Centro Mexicano’s page alone more than 14,000 times, while UNAM’s dedicated page has had more than 150,000 visits. “The culture of pro bono is relatively low in Mexico, though the need for it is high. We believe this grand-scale collaboration is helping to grow that culture,” says Ivette Montero, Centro Mexicano executive director. “The enthusiasm and willingness from all firms involved has been fantastic.”
Elsewhere in the region, Centro Mexicano is hard at work pushing more companies and their legal teams to partake in pro bono. Many corporate counsel want to do pro bono but don’t know how, as they think it’s a private practice endeavour, says Centro Mexicano executive director Ivette Montero. Her team provide a step by step process to help in-house counsel that come to them for help in establishing pro bono programmes at their company. Corporate counsel can explain what kind of work they want to do, their availability and where else they want to help. “We’ve done it for global companies, and it’s worked very well,” says Montero. “It’s an area that has great opportunity now in Mexico, and beyond.”
For those lawyers and firms who have not worked pro bono before or who are hesitant to make a donation to their clearing house, the time is now. “The solidarity humankind is witnessing right now as we all fight one common ‘enemy’ is a powerful force. Pro bono can make you part of that force,” says Centro Mexicano’s Montero.
Read the full note: Pro Bono a critical state
Clearing houses take seriously their role in motivating partners at member law firms to get in on the action. Fundación Pro Bono Chile gives preferential treatment to partners who want to choose what cases they work on, while Centro Mexicano Pro Bono thinks contact with law firm partners directly encourages more of them to get involved, asking for their input on how to improve the process so they feel more involved as a key player in pro bono activities.
Read the full note: Pro bono: Taking responsibility