The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice co-sponsored an event in New York with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas on January 22 commemorating the launch of the Pro Bono Declaration for the Americas (PBDA).
The PBDA is the first collaborative effort among private lawyers in the Americas to articulate the lawyer's professional responsibility to promote access to justice and provide pro bono legal assistance on behalf of the poor. It is the culmination of initiatives that have been developing in Latin America since 2001.
In signing the declaration, which became effective on January 1 and which provides a common definition of pro bono, lawyers are pledging to undertake a minimum of 20 hours of pro bono work per year. Since July 2007, when signing began, more than 150 law firms, bar associations and law schools in Latin America and the United States have endorsed the PBDA.
The text of the PBDA was developed by a regional committee of Latin American and U.S. lawyers, and was finalized through consultation meetings with members of legal communities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and New York.
Participants at the January 22 event included leadership from the New York City Bar, managing partners and Latin America practice partners from law firms in New York that have signed the PBDA, lawyers at investment banks and multinational corporations, and members of the Council of the Americas.
The PBDA will be formally launched in Latin America on February 27 in Mexico City during the IBA Bar Leaders' Day at its Conference of the Americas, and will mark the close of the inaugural signing period and the beginning of a three-year period to develop projects and create partnerships and institutions to enable lawyers throughout the Americas to meet their commitment to provide 20 hours of pro bono work per year.