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Our Programs

Pro Bono Promotion

A cornerstone of the Vance Center’s work is the promotion of pro bono practice in legal markets in which pro bono culture is unknown or in development.

The Vance Center makes use of two critical tools to advance pro bono practice in these markets. The first is the Pro Bono Network of the Americas, a consortium of 16 pro bono clearing houses in Latin America, which the Vance Center jointly curates with Fundación Pro Bono Chile. The second is the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas, which defines legal pro bono and sets forth a commitment of 20 annual pro bono hours per attorney at signatory law firms. There are currently more than 560 signatories to the Declaration throughout the Americas.

With these tools in and, the Vance Center supports and builds capacity for emerging clearing houses in the region and for in-house pro bono programs at law firms.

Annual Pro Bono Survey

For the last 13 years, the Vance Center has partnered with Latin Lawyer to develop and administer a survey measuring the continued institutionalization of pro bono in Latin America. In 2020—with critical support from clearing house partners in the Network— over 170 law firms completed the survey, the most ever in the history of the survey. Survey results demonstrate that the impact of the work is clear:

  • 85% law firms responding to the survey are members of a local pro bono foundation, institute or clearing house
  • 9 out of every 10 law firms responding to the survey have designated pro bono coordinators
  • 66% of law firms made a financial contribution to a clearing house in 2020

Read more here.

COVID-19 Response

The unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have had a profound effect on the legal profession in Latin America, including pro bono practice there. The many logistical and administrative issues notwithstanding, clearinghouse members of the Network have responded in kind. Following a transition to a largely digital service delivery model for pro bono legal services, lawyers in Latin America

In 2020, the Vance Center co-organized a six-month long interview series organized in weekly, country-specific installments to discuss Network members’ institutional responses to the global pandemic. View the interviews here.

The Vance Center has been a key partner in launching a pro bono clearinghouse in Uruguay. The expert support of the Vance Center Pro Bono Practice team will allow us ultimately to bridge the access to justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Nicolás Etcheverry, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Montevideo