Global Taxes

Mexico: Elba Gutiérrez receives 2022 IBA Pro Bono Award

Friday 4 November 2022

The recipient of the International Bar Association (IBA) Pro Bono Award for 2022 has been announced as Elba Gutiérrez, Manager of the Greenberg Traurig Global Pro Bono Programme. She is honoured for her instrumental role in delivering and promoting pro bono legal services in Mexico, a country where pro bono legal work is uncommon and not mandatory. Describing herself as a ‘human rights defender in a corporate attorney’s body’, Ms Gutiérrez has worked for humanitarian causes throughout her career.

When notified about the award, Ms Gutiérrez remarked: ‘I’m deeply honoured to receive this award. As attorneys we have a superpower: we can understand, explain, and enforce the law to change and even save lives. We can improve the world through our profession. I’m convinced that pro bono work is one of the most powerful tools to achieve not just justice, but also social change and people’s empowerment. My work as a young woman from the Global South is testament of that.’

IBA President Sternford Moyo said: ‘On behalf of the International Bar Association, warmest congratulations are offered to Elba Gutiérrez on her outstanding achievements. I hope that she will further inspire others in the global legal community to create positive change in and beyond the legal profession.’

During her time as coordinator for the Greenberg Traurig Pro Bono Programme in Mexico City (2017 – 2021), Ms Gutiérrez was involved in a diverse range of pro bono cases including providing legal assistance to those in need after the 2017 Mexico City earthquake and assisting impact litigations involving vaccines against COVID-19 for children, harassment in the workplace, and state reparations for severe human rights violations. Under Ms Gutiérrez’ leadership, Greenberg became the first legal partner of the United Nations Refugee Agency in Mexico to better represent asylum-seekers. She also helped to design a legal education syllabus for non-profit organisations and was involved in the coordination and development of materials to inform Indigenous communities about prior and informed consent.

Following her success as Programme Coordinator of Greenberg Traurig’s Pro Bono Programme, Ms Gutiérrez was promoted to Manager of the firm’s global Pro Bono Programme in 2022 and currently manages 43 offices worldwide. She has a clear vision for her future work: ‘To make pro bono lawyering a reality in countries and regions where it's currently not common practice, all while deepening the social commitment of our profession and partnering with diverse actors in civil society and international organisations in hopes of finding new ways for all kinds of private initiative attorneys to contribute to the pursuit of justice and protection of human rights.’

In a letter of recommendation, Ignacio López V Newton, Chief of the Field Office at UNICEF México, wrote: ‘Recognising Elba's work is recognising that her type of revolution – technically sound, energetic, collaborative and humane – is the type of revolution that needs to continue to happen in the Mexican legal system to ensure that it becomes a more just system.’

Natalia Alvarado, Legal Projects Coordinator at Appleseed Mexico, who nominated Ms Gutiérrez for the award, commented: ‘Elba is one of the first in Mexico to be appointed as a full-time pro bono attorney in a firm. She designed, from scratch, a whole practice in one of the biggest firms in Mexico. It happened when she was 26 years old, a big position for such a young professional. She developed alliances with non-governmental organisations and international organisations, detected cases, distributed projects among shareholders and associates, and supervised all of them, reaching more than 15,600 hours in just four years.’

Odette Geldenhuys, Chair of the IBA Pro Bono Committee and member of the award judging panel, commented: ‘Each year the IBA Pro Bono Committee is awestruck with the range and scope of pro bono legal work happening around the globe. This year is no different. The 2022 award winner practises in a jurisdiction where pro bono legal work is not commonplace, and she is forging an excellent example. The pro bono legal work of the finalists similarly inspires current and future lawyers to contribute to a better society.’

Nigel Roberts, Vice President of Global Associations LexisNexis and Vice President of LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation, remarked: ‘Having an Accessible Legal Remedy is an essential element of the Rule of Law, and pro bono legal assistance is key to providing access to justice for so many. Elba Guitiérrez is an inspiration to all lawyers in the field of pro bono and to defending and promoting the rule of law. We are proud to support this award and I congratulate her on behalf of LexisNexis!’

Sponsored by LexisNexis, the annual IBA Pro Bono Award seeks to honour those who have shown outstanding commitment to pro bono work over the course of their career. The award was presented by the IBA Pro Bono Committee during the IBA Annual Conference 2022 in Miami at the Section on Public and Professional Interest (SPPI) breakfast on Thursday 3 November.

The recipient of the 2021 award, Geoff Budlender, was also recognised for his dedication to pro bono causes in South Africa during this year’s ceremony, as COVID-19 restrictions meant the 2021 ceremony was held online.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. Information about the IBA Pro Bono Award is available at:
  2. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for fair practice and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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  3. Find the IBA and IBAHRI on social media here:

    IBA (@IBAnews)

    IBAHRI (@IBAHRI)

Please direct enquiries/interview requests to:

Romana St. Matthew-Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association

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Website page link for this news release:
Short link: https://tinyurl.com/2p8xu8zz

Full link: https://www.ibanet.org/Mexico-Elba-Gutierrez-receives-2022-IBA-Pro-Bono-Award