The Vance Center hosts African Pro Bono Clearinghouse Lawyers
The Vance Center and its African institutional partners, South Africa’s probono.org and Nigeria’s Public Interest Law Partnership (PILP), and the Pro Bono Clearing House, hosted a webinar as part of its ongoing Africa Pro Bono Series promoting cross-border discussion of pro bono practice in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
The webinar entitled “Pro Bono Clearinghouses: An International Perspective” featured lawyers nominated by the clearinghouses in Africa from the law firms of Banwo & Ighodalo, Werksmans Attorneys, and Vincent Soligbo & Co and Gómez-Pinzon in Bogotá, Colombia. Ted Maynard, Executive Chair of the Vance Center, opened the event and reiterated the Vance Center’s commitment to promoting pro bono practice in Africa based on its experience and lessons learned from doing the same in Latin America.
Steve Schulman, Pro Bono Partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and a Vance Center Committee member, moderated the event of more than 70 participants and posed questions on the reasons that lawyers engage in pro bono work, its benefits, and ways to build a pro bono culture in law firms.
In answering these questions, Chinedum Umeche, a lawyer at Banwo & Ighodalo, and Naledi Mostsiri, a lawyer at Werksmans Attorneys, analyzed how pro bono work fits in the legal frameworks of Nigeria and South Africa, respectively. Vincent Soligbo of Soligbo Vincent & Co Legal Practitioners and Shamika Dwarika of probono.org explained how pro bono cases are handled and assigned. Paula Samper Salazar, Chair Emerita of Fundación Pro Bono Colombia and Partner at Gomez- Pinzon, recounted the process of creating Fundación Pro Bono Colombia over the past ten years and shared various experiences of engagement by lawyers in Latin America with the clearinghouses. The panel concluded that law firm leadership’s buy-in and the use of existing structures within law firms are fundamental to encouraging lawyers and law firms to take up pro bono cases and support clearinghouses.
The Vance Center in 2020 launched a cross-border discussion of pro bono practice in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America in partnership with South Africa’s probono.org and Nigeria’s Public Interest Law Partnership and the Pro Bono Clearing House. The four-part series aims to engage staff, lawyers, beneficiaries, and regulatory frameworks of three African pro bono clearinghouses in an open dialogue among themselves and their Latin American counterparts.