The last year before my graduation as a lawyer, I did the required legal practice of free legal service. A group of students and me, led by a lawyer, gave legal support to poor people in the consultations they had and we obtained benefits of litigating without costs, food regimes and visits, permits to leave the country and registration of people for obtaining documents, among other procedures. It was really rewarding to guide them. Having had to pay a lawyer, these people would not have had access to justice.
Since then I realized that, for me, the mission of a lawyer was to make their profession available to other to people with and without resources and therefore I committed myself when I got my degree and certificate.
As Executive Director of the firm CENTRAL LAW I have coordinated our pro bono work regionally wide since 2010 and each of our offices in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic have signed the Pro Bono Declaration for the Americas, an initiative of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar and other leading firms in Latin America.
Following the subscription the company has committed to perform pro bono work at least 20 hours per year. I have coordinated various pro bono, from the support regarding notification of judgments to non-advice on a daily basis to not for profit organizations that are engaged in child protection, human rights and the protection of natural resources.
Compared to other Latin American countries that are most active in pro bono and have more Clearing Houses as Argentina, Chile, Peru and Colombia, I must say that Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic are making a great effort though the pro bono work, in general, seems to be dedicated to isolated legal consulting instead of constant legal advice organizations or projects. Clearing Houses are mostly providers of pro bono work and sometimes the same non-profit organizations and / or international firms are the one that directly ask local support. I wish there are more projects in Central America as those seen in South America: for example, help a city to further protect the environment or help public colleges and universities to provide access for people with physical disability, etc.
Some barriers currently facing the...