Bar Leaders Gather in Santiago to Discuss State of PBDA Implementation Across the Americas

May 2010

conference hosts

Pictured from left to right: Todd Crider, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP/Vance Center; Elise Colomer Grimaldi, Vance Center; Marcela Fajardo, Fundación Pro Bono Chile;  Antonia Stolper, Shearman & Sterling LLP/Vance Center; Guillermo Morales, Morales & Besa/Fundación Pro Bono Chile.

Forty-five lawyers from leading law firms throughout the Americas gathered in Santiago, Chile on April 16th, 2010, to discuss the status of pro bono initiatives in the region and share experiences on pro bono work. The meeting, "Pro Bono Declaration for the Americas: Progress and Challenges," which took place at the International Bar Association’s Annual Americas Conference, was co-organized by The Vance Center and Fundación Pro Bono-Chile.

Antonia Stolper, Chair of the Vance Center Committee, gave a regional overview of pro bono initiatives underway in various countries in Latin America. Attention was drawn to the “Chilean model,” which has been successfully replicated in other countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela.

Other speakers included Guillermo Morales, a Chilean lawyer and a member of the Declaration’s Drafting Committee, and Todd Crider, Vice Chair of the Vance Center Committee.  The meeting covered everything from the steps that law firms throughout the region have taken to institutionalize pro bono programs within their firms, emphasizing the importance of creating strategic alliances with referral organizations such as NGOs, to the challenges of meeting the Declaration’s goal of 20 hours of pro bono work per lawyer per year within a three-year implementation period.

The meeting concluded with comments and suggestions from participants on how to improve and further professionalize pro bono work in the Americas, with a proposal to share best practices among regional Declaration signatories.  Participants also agreed on the importance and timeliness of having a regional strategy session in 2011 that will focus on reviewing the progress to date and identify strategies to enhance the ability of the legal profession to address unmet legal needs in the hemisphere.


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