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Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-15-2020

Publication Citation

27 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 189 (2020)

Abstract

This article does not discuss whether pro bono programs should exist in Colombia, or whether they cause positive transformation in the legal profession. These issues are examined in other types of legal literature, and this author departs from the standpoint of viewing this type of work as a positive practice within the legal culture. The main thesis of this article is that pro bono work is still developing in Colombia, both in its numbers of participating attorneys and clients, as well as in the ways it is affecting the legal culture. As important as it might be, the work of the PBF has not yet reached significant service levels, and there are still structural barriers to the emergence and solidification of a pro bono culture in many law firms, particularly the smaller ones, and solo practitioners in Colombia. The removal of these barriers might contribute to the elimination of structural social inequalities and a more significant contribution of the legal profession to this goal.

How is institutionalized pro bono serving its purpose of broadening and equalizing access to justice in Colombia? How are law firms, in particular, responding to this goal? Who else needs to chip in to make the system work better for the under-resourced population? In short, and in addition to providing a detailed description of the current state of pro bono efforts in the country, this paper seeks to answer the question: how can pro bono institutions and lawyers in Colombia increase the quality and volume of their services?

This article presents empirical analysis to evaluate whether pro bono work has increased citizens' exercise of their right to access justice, and whether institutionalized forms of it have been successful. Statistics from the PBF are the primary resource for measurement of the pro bono efforts carried out by its member law firms annually. Also, during the first month of 2017, the author surveyed the pro bono coordinators of the PBF member firms. This survey was also distributed to the first group of pro bono interns from Los Andes University Law School. It gathered information on pro bono structure, institutions, internships, and overall prioritizing of pro bono efforts at each of the firms.

Available for download on Saturday, February 15, 2025

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