Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

27 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 1 (2020)


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. 28 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.

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