Image of Ivette Montero and Paulina Bojalil

Ivette Montero and Paulina Bojalil

/ Fall Global Business Edition 2017

A new clearinghouse has been attracting the attention of local law firms in Mexico due to its pro bono success. Centro Mexicano Pro Bono, A.C. (ProBono.MX) is a non-profit organization, incorporated in 2015, whose mission is to serve and help underprivileged people in Mexico who require legal advice. Through the relevant pro bono legal work and its strategic partnerships with the most prestigious law firms in Mexico, ProBono.MX ensures high-quality legal advice and consulting to underprivileged groups. 

ProBono.MX is a results-driven association whose members always seek the common benefit of underprivileged groups; this explains the important efforts made by the project participants. Based on the dedicated service and commitment, and within its specific purpose, ProBono.MX provides training and information to disadvantaged groups, non-profit organizations, and micro-entrepreneurs through pro bono legal work from lawyers and law firms that have partnered with ProBono.MX. Consequently, the social inequality and economic disparity will be reduced. Needless to say, the results achieved will be precedent-setting across Mexico.  

The increased number of underprivileged groups who required legal assistance and the lack of enough pro bono institutions willing to provide services motivated the creation of ProBono.MX. The main difference between ProBono.MX and the existing pro bono institutions is that ProBono.MX is open to help all vulnerable groups and also open to all kinds of qualified lawyers, as well as in-house lawyers. ProBono.MX is making a difference in this regard due to its willingness to benefit various groups. They are also playing an important role in supporting non-profit organizations that aim to help but lack sufficient funds and required assistance to succeed.   

Aware of the fact that many people within Mexico face odds and adversities, ProBono.MX initiated a project to connect people and organizations in need of legal representation with lawyers and law firms capable of tending to their specific situations. Among other vulnerable groups, ProBono.MX supports Mexican startups made up of mostly Mexican women on their way to starting microenterprises and medium-sized businesses. This project aims to help startups acquire all legal authorizations required by the applicable governmental entities, resulting in a smaller number of informal companies and more formal businesses that comply with the relevant laws. But the legal services of ProBono.MX do not stop there; they also provide useful capacity-building training to achieve outstanding business functionality and proper conduct. The success achieved by this and other projects conducted by ProBono.MX has led them to join the non-profit organization known worldwide as “La Red de Fundación Pro Bono para las Américas.”  

Due to its wide scope of work, ProBono.MX also supports partner law firms and lawyers to increase the efficiency of the pro bono legal work by performing functions that no other clearinghouse in Mexico does.

Among other important features, ProBono.MX encourages pro bono work by defining a policy for each law firm, according to its areas of expertise, preferred social causes, and by filtrating cases through a scrupulous study in which they verify the vulnerability of the beneficiary and if pro bono work is needed.

This study may even include conducting an interview with such law firms to obtain appropriate information to establish what actions have to be taken to provide accurate pro bono legal work.

“I believe that Centro Mexicano Pro Bono is a fundamental part of the Mexican pro bono ecosystem; practitioners and pro bono clients need this very well-designed and managed clearinghouse,” said James Ritch, counsel to one of the most prolific law firms in Mexico, Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C.

As a result of the commitment and dedication to defending unprivileged groups of the Mexican population, ProBono.MX has assisted over 67 people and 34 non-profit organizations, and has managed to partner with more than 13 law firms in Mexico. 

Pro bono work, understood as a critical part of the Mexican legal profession, has been frequently forgotten by attorneys and has yet to yield its full potential and is the reason why ProBono.MX urges and calls upon law firms in Mexico and around the world to promote pro bono activities within their respective legal practices.