IBA Annual Conference Miami 2022

30 Oct - 4 Nov 2022

Room 228 AB, Level 2

Session information

Always for a ‘good cause’? Managing the politics of pro bono representation
Room 228 AB, Level 2 View location
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Pro Bono Committee (Lead)


"The system of institutionalized pro bono reflects what is best about the legal profession: private sector lawyers marshalling their resources to advance the interests of the poor and underserved. Yet the relationship between pro bono and the public good is more subtle and complex." (Scott L. Cummings, The Politics of Pro Bono, UCLA School of Law Public Law & Legal Theory Research Paper Series Paper No, 04-16, 2004, p.99)

Moral neutrality, business grounds and competing demands from liberal public interest groups and conservative organisations, can make it difficult to pursue justice-seeking pro bono efforts on a number of fronts. For example, the trans rights movement for extending basic legal rights and protections for a marginalized community has met with deep resistance in some corners and another example involves immigration rights. Pro bono efforts in the US during the Trump administration (and in some instances continuing through today) were at times frustrated with respect to the resettlement of Central American asylum seekers and refugees (in many instances involving children) as some law firms avoid taking “political” stances on these issues within their pro bono programs. The Afghan and Ukrainian crises are bringing similar concerns to the fore in Europe. Within large corporate law firms, which are the dominant providers of pro bono legal services, is it still legitimate to demand of pro bono lawyers to be morally neutral and stay clear of public interest lawyering which uses the law as a vehicle to combat social injustice?

Session / Workshop Chair(s)

Arturo Banegas Masia Akerman LLP, New York, New York, USA; North American Forum Liaison Officer, Pro Bono Committee
Carlos Vasconsellos Ferrere, Asuncion, Paraguay; Latin American Regional Forum Liaison Officer, Pro Bono Committee


Funmi Ayeni The Public Interest Law Partnership, Lagos, Nigeria
Adriana De Buerba PEREZ-LLORCA, Madrid, Spain; Senior Vice Chair, Criminal Law Committee
Jorge L Escobedo Cyrus R Vance Center for International Justice, New York, New York, USA
Abhijit Mukhopadhyay Hinduja Group, London, England; Committee Liaison Officer, Corporate Counsel Forum