Following a large number of entries to this year’s IBA Pro Bono award, sponsored by LexisNexis, once again reflecting the great pro bono work done worldwide, the judging panel selected seven nominees to be advanced to the next round. The nominees represent the following organisations (in alphabetical order): Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group, Fernando Pombo Foundation, International Law Book Facility, Minter Ellison, National Legal Aid Clinic for Women, Webber Wentzel. The winner will be announced during the IBA Annual Conference in Washington, DC, 18–23 September.
Brief summaries of the work for which the short-listed candidates have been nominated are set out below:
Alan Wright, Senior Associate at Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group, has been nominated by the firm’s Pro Bono Manager Fatima Laher, who states that throughout his career, Wright has dedicated considerable time, energy and effort in furthering Bowman Gilfillan Africa Group’s commitment to pro bono. In particular, he should be recognised for his outstanding representation of the producers and executive producers of the feature film documentary Blood Lions, allowing the film’s producers to achieve their goal of raising awareness of the Blood Lion Campaign.
Cristina Puigdengolas, Business and Human Rights Officer at the Fernando Pombo Foundation, is working full time on pro bono issues for the foundation. This followed over 20 years of work as an in-house lawyer and legal adviser across Europe for different multinational companies. Carmen Pombo, Director of the Foundation explains that through her work, Cristina has been instrumental in the development of the pro bono culture in Spain, and in particular her commitment to the rights of the underprivileged, and now runs a project on the role of the legal profession in business and human rights.
Katrina Crossley is a Trustee of the International Law Book Facility (ILBF), a UK charity which she helped launch a decade ago. The aim of the charity is to send good quality, second-hand UK legal textbooks to pro bono, educational and access to justice organisations across the world. Through working with a team of volunteers, and creating an effective operating model, the ILBF has send almost 30,000 books to more than 100 organisations in over 40 countries. Jane Colston, Partner at Brown Rudnick explains that Katrina’s collaborative approach extends beyond the volunteers and UK partner organisations to the recipients of the books , building effective partnerships with local organisations.
Mandy Manda is the Executive Director of the National Legal Aid Clinic for Women, a legal aid service provider for women and children from marginalised social sectors in Zambia. In 2013, the clinic was selected to showcase its work at a regional symposium as a model for others in the Southern Region of Africa. She is also an advisor on policy and legal matters aimed at promoting gender equity and equality, to the Ministry of Gender in Zambia. Linda Kasonde, President of the Law Association of Zambia nominated Mandy for her level of commitment and dedication to providing pro bono services and access to justice in Zambia.
Odette Geldenhuys of Webber Wentzel and founder of ProBono.Org, the first Pro Bono Clearing House in South Africa, focusses on helping the underprivileged and marginalised people in South Africa. As part of this, Odette created the first housing cooperation ‘Seven Buidlings Project’ as a way of securing black property ownership, became the first director of the ‘Legal Aid’, an institution providing free legal services, and throughout her work recognises the importance of the role of the private profession in ensuring access to justice for all people.
Pooja Dela, of Webber Wentzel in Johannesburg, has dedicated her work to the protection and enhancement of the rule of law and independence of critical state institutions, with a view to upholding the values of the constitution, including the National Prosecuting Authority, the Judiciary and the South African Police Service. Her nominator Vlad Movshovish, Partner at Webber Wentzel, states that Pooja has made a monumental contribution to South African jurisprudence and safeguarding of fundamental constitutional values and institutions.
Robert Reed is Special Counsel at Minter Ellison, and has contributed the past 15 years to access to justice and the delivery of free legal services to disadvantaged citizens, including homeless people and victims of domestic violence. As part of this he is a founding member of QPILCH (Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House), an independent and not-for-profit, community-based legal organisation coordinating the provision of pro bono legal services for individuals and community groups in Queensland. In addition, Robert dedicates his pro bono work to Australia’s CEO Challenge (ACEOC), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence, with a focus on its impact on the workplace.