Vance Center Engages at the International Bar Association

November 2022

(Photo Credit: Karina Benzaquen)

Vance Center program leaders convened events at the International Bar Association annual conference, highlighting work on diversity, pro bono practice, and the rule of law.  Lawyers attending gained the chance to join in this work and expand the Vance Center’s growing legal network.

The Vance Center’s Women in the Profession program held an event entitled “Disrupting the Gender Hierarchy: A Woman Lawyer’s Perspective,” with the sponsorship of Morrison Foerster and Sidley Austin. More than five dozen lawyers from a dozen countries in Latin America attended the panel session and workshop to explore diversity and inclusion initiatives at law firms and specifically the success of women lawyers in mobilizing to challenge the status quo in their home countries. Vance Center Committee member Ruti Smithline of Morrison & Foerster opened the event and  introduced panel moderator  Veronica Rodriguez, Committee member and Executive Vice President and Associate General Counsel at TelevisaUnivision. The panel included leading women lawyers:

Board Member of WIP Peru & WIP International Steering Committee

Partner, Souto Correa Advogados

Founding Member of Women in Law Mentoring Brazil; Member of WIP International Steering Committee

Partner, Roca Junyet

Founder and President of Women in a Legal World

Topics discussed included gender equality, work-life integration, eliminating bias, and facing challenges in the legal profession. The panelists offered tips on closing the hierarchy gap, emphasizing the importance of mentoring, the essence of community within the legal profession, and  using men as allies to reach objectives.

Committee members Patricia Menendez Cambo, Former Deputy General Counsel, SoftBank Group International, and Antonia Stolper, Of Counsel at Shearman and Sterling introduced the workshop session, divided into four roundtables: diversity and inclusion iniatives in firms; strategies to garner support for gender equality in the profession from sponsors; tasks of sponsors and the need for mentors; and strategies to increase and maintain a pipeline of associates to become partners.

WIP Program Manager Karina Benzaquen gave short closing remarks followed by a networking session among participants.

To see more photos please click here.


The Vance Center’s Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights held its annual meeting, with participants from ten countries: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The Council presented an overview of previous initiatives and discussed new projects to implement the recommendations of the Latin America Anti-Corruption Assessment , strengthen judicial independence through assessments in nine countries in the region, and support civil society organizations working on universal jurisdiction cases.

The Council also discussed the renewal and expansion of its membership to add representatives from six countries: Bolivia, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Paraguay, as well as new provisions to incentive members’ participation.


Vance Center Africa Program Director Adaobi Egboka participated in a panel considering the challenges and opportunities in performing pro bono work in Africa. The panel specifically examined the role of pro bono lawyers in providing free legal services to the poor and underserved. It addressed the need for pro bono practice in Africa, the challenges faced in promoting this practice, and the incentives/reasons for law firms to commit to providing pro bono legal services.

Egboka presented the Vance Center’s efforts in promoting pro bono practice in the continent through various discussions to highlight the need for an improved pro bono culture and the institutionalization of pro bono practice at law firms and through clearing houses. She discussed her experiences working with law firms and in-house counsels in planning to set up the first clearinghouse in East Africa. The Vance Center’s experience in Latin America and the United States shows that formalized pro bono efforts that engage multiple stakeholders in the legal market bridge the gaps in access to justice for all.


The Vance Center and the Pro Bono Network of the Americas organized a panel discussion on the role of pro bono practice within the emerging ESG market in the Latin American corporate legal sector. Led by Vance Center Committee member and Shearman & Sterling Of Counsel Antonia Stolper and White & Case partner and former Vance Center Committee member Jonathan Hamilton , the discussion focused on the importance of engaging with and supporting national pro bono clearinghouses as key stakeholders in the ESG framework for corporate law firms in the region.


Director of Pro Bono Partnerships Jorge Escobedo participated in the International Bar Association’s  “Managing the Politics of Pro Bono Representation” panel. Chaired jointly by Ferrere Abogados partner Carlos Vasconcellos and Akerman partner Arturo Banegas Masiá , the discussion put forth best practices for corporate law firms engaging with pro bono projects and cases involving sensitive or controversial topics. Panelists encouraged session participants to navigate such issues with the goal of increasing access to justice through pro bono legal services for the most vulnerable populations and non-profit organizations.