Pro bono work in Guatemala: Opportunity for Knowledge, Experience and Change

by Edson López, Andrea Miranda and Sofía Zaghi - ECIJA INTEGRUM
Friday, 3 February 2023 10:04 GMT

The essence of our firm is highlighted by several factors, and one of the most important is the value that we give to people. Our human resources are our best asset - we care about the people that make up our team and our society. In a country like ours, society suffers from a lot of needs and shortcomings. As lawyers, pro-bono work is the best way we can help people, giving our legal advice and services for free. This is the reason why providing pro bono assistance has been part of our work since the beginning. We take pride in including this line of work in our daily practice, and encourage our team to provide diligent and excellent legal counsel to our pro bono clients.

We’ve worked with entities such as Esperanza Juvenil, a foundation that help kids to have an education and better opportunities, and the Volunteer Firefighters, an organisation that mainly relies on its own income and just a small contribution from the government to provide legal services and advice both in organisational and litigious matters. The pro bono work done in our firm involves all our staff, usually across different work areas. This kind of work sees our team members collaborating with the entities we provide our legal services to in other ways, such as making donations periodically and participating in activities that are organised to raise funds.

When the alliance between our local firm, INTEGRUM, and the international firm ECIJA, was finalised in 2020 and we became ECIJA INTEGRUM, the opportunity to expand the kind of pro bono work we had been providing was presented to us by participating and collaborating in TrustLaw’s various projects.

In recent years, we’ve been able to participate with a collaboration on official state advertising, in which we had the opportunity to provide important legal, historical and political context of Guatemala’s management of this kind of advertising. The team members that worked together on this project were able to set aside time to investigate, read and learn about their own country, and gain important knowledge that improves their professional profiles.

For us, pro bono work represents an important way to help by doing what we do best - which is providing legal counsel. These kind of opportunities also help us build a sense of community within our team and to develop kindness. In turn, we gain experience and knowledge that help us become better as a firm and as individuals.

We value the work we provide to entities that are dedicated to helping others, and which has allowed us to establish important connections with the extraordinary people we’ve met while providing our services.

We look forward to having more such opportunities in the near future to provide pro bono work through TrustLaw and using their guidelines, which could potentially lead to much needed changes.

As a firm established in a Latin American country, we are no strangers to the needs of this region, to the fact many people and institutions have minimal access to justice and legal advice. It is urgent for legal firms to incorporate pro bono work as a means to provide useful and timely resources and tools that otherwise would not be accessible to most of the country’s population.

There are so many benefits to doing pro bono work that need to be known by those who can provide it. We hope that we can lead by example to spread this knowledge and ensure other firms reap the rewarding benefits of this practice.

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