Vance Center Secures Sponsors for “Access to Justice Practicum.”

July 2021

Multinational companies and leading law firms have committed to support the Vance Center’s newest initiative, the Access to Justice Practicum, promoting public interest lawyering in Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico and later other Latin American countries, in partnership with members of the Pro Bono Network of the Americas.

General Electric, through its Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council of the Global Law & Policy function, led the sponsorships, bringing along Colombian law firm Brigard Urrutia and Argentinian law firm Allende & BreaJP Morgan Chase and Accenture in Argentina also committed to sponsorships.

The Access to Justice Practicum funds outstanding recent law graduates to work for one year at pro bono clearinghouse in the Pro Bono Network of the Americas, tackling systemic problems facing poor and marginalized. It provides a pathway to public interest law careers, affording participants (“Practitioners”) hands-on experience and support, including a one-week intensive training program during the year.

Poor and marginalized communities across Latin America face severe obstacles in securing access to justice, largely because of a dearth of appropriate legal services. Public interest organizations rarely have the resources to hire full-time lawyers to assist high-need communities. At the same time, barriers in the pipeline to public interest lawyering in Latin America begin with the formalistic training of most law schools. Further, there are almost no public interest jobs in civil society organizations to which graduating students can apply.

The Practicum seeks to transform the nature of legal services available to high-needs people across Latin America over time and allow starting lawyers to pursue careers in the public interest.  It focuses on specific needs of each country, based on the host organizations’ determinations:

  • In Argentina, the Pro Bono and Public Interest Committee, an initiative of the City of Buenos Aires Bar Association, will host the Practitioner to develop a partnership to support the legal needs of children and adolescents who experience sexual violence and abuse.
  • In ColombiaFundación Pro Bono Colombiawill host the Practitioner to set up a medical-legal partnership, providing legal services at clinics and hospitals to address the social determinants of health and difficulties in accessing health services. Evidence from other countries reveals that such partnerships can yield great benefits for patients’ health and well-being.
  • In MexicoFundación Barra Mexicana and theCentro Mexicano Pro Bono will co-host the Practitioner, focusing on strengthening pro bono services to victims of gender-based violence by developing a toolbox of legal and advocacy skills necessary for effective pro bono representation in such cases.

The applications for the Practicum are open. Learn more about the program and how to apply here.