Access to Justice Practitioners Gather for Immersive Training in Chile

April 2024

The Vance Center and Pro Bono Network of the Americas member Fundación Pro Bono Chile conducted a five-day in-person training session in Santiago for the three early-career lawyers participating in the Access to Justice Practicum.

AJP practitioners and Fundación Pro Bono Chile staff during the weeklong training in Santiago, Chile, April 17, 2024. Photo: Vance Center

In mid-April, AJP practitioners Maria Pía Uribe, from Lima, Peru; Ravenna Vieira of Tocantins, Brazil; and Carla Valdés, from Santiago, Chile, participated in a series of workshops with experts in pro bono legal services, non-profit organizations, law students, and law firms to expand their knowledge in public interest law, communications, and more.  

These practical sessions offered the practitioners an opportunity to participate, exchange experiences, hear from experts about practices and experiences in their home countries, and build critical skills and knowledge to continue pursuing public interest legal work.  

Fundación Pro Bono Chile staff kicked off the week with an introduction to the Chilean clearinghouse, its primary areas of practice, and pro bono practice in Chile. In this first session, the three practitioners presented their individual projects and discussed their work to date and some of the challenges regarding access to justice in their countries.  

Later in the week, the practitioners participated in a workshop on strategic litigation with the firm Colombara Estrategia Legal. In her presentation, the firm’s Human Rights Coordinator Jennifer Alfaro focused on strategic litigation in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, highlighting specific cases the firm has undertaken on a pro bono basis.  

The training agenda also included meetings with nonprofit organizations Déficit Cero and Fundación Iguales; meetings with Chilean law school students are working on access to justice projects through Fundación Pro Bono Chile’s Desafío Pro Bono program; meetings with Óscar Lizana, associate at law firm Carey, and Josefa Giesen, associate at Kehr Abuid Abogados; and a communications workshop led by Fundación Pro Bono Chile’s communications director Matias Jara. 

Vance Center Senior Manager for International Diversity and Pro Bono Programs Karina Benzaquen, along with Fundación Pro Bono Chile’s Executive Director Eva Méndez, coordinator Paulina Corral, and Pro Bono Network of the Americas Coordinator Ignacio Obando, organized the weeklong training. 

Vance Center Senior Manager for International Diversity and Pro Bono Programs Karina Benzaquen with AJP practitioners in Santiago, Chile, April 18, 2024. Photo: Vance Center

The Vance Center launched the Access to Justice Practicum in December 2020 to mitigate the access-to-justice gap in Latin America’s legal landscape. Through the Practicum, outstanding recent law graduates are matched with a member organization of the Pro Bono Network of the Americas or another organization in the Vance Center’s network for one-year projects to address systemic problems facing poor and marginalized communities in their communities or countries. The Practicum aims to create a pipeline for public interest lawyering, providing participants with training, experience, and support to embark on life-long careers of service. 

The Practicum receives financial support from General Electric through its Global Law & Policy organization’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council, with additional support from Chilean law firm Jara del Favero, the Peruvian office of law firm DLA Piper, and Brazilian law firm Tauil Chequer Advogados.