PILnet's 2012 European Pro Bono Forum looks toward Madrid
Following mounting successes in Budapest, Paris, and Berlin, PILnet’s European Pro Bono Forum is moving south this year to Madrid, Spain, a city and country where pro bono as a concept is still young. But legal social responsibility has been present for centuries and so pro bono has quickly gained support at the highest levels of the legal community.
In many of the Forum’s host countries the event has served as a catalyst for the spread of pro bono, and in Spain, too, interest is clearly on the rise. Led by the Madrid Bar, a major hub for the area's social responsibility work, both individuals and law firms have eagerly taken up the cause of providing free legal services in support of the public good. To facilitate the growth of pro bono and compliment its legal aid and orientations services, the Madrid Bar has established the Centro de Responsabilidad Social de la Abogacía, an innovative center that promotes individual and corporate pro bono work to help non-profit organizations.
Pro bono, of course, is not new to Europe. Increasingly, law firms and individual lawyers are offering vital legal assistance to NGOs and support for their humanitarian missions. PILnet’s annual European Pro Bono Forum, now in its sixth successful year, has played a major role in building support across the continent.
This year as in the past, the Forum’s workshops will be organized around a series of streams, including one devoted to pro bono in Spain. Addressing aspects of pro bono that are distinctive to the Spanish context, key figures in the community will discuss such questions as: How can pro bono assist when state budgets and funding are severely cut in times of financial crisis? What do Spanish NGOs need from law firms in terms of legal support and assistance? How can smaller law firms get more involved in pro bono? How can Spanish lawyers engage in pro bono outside Spain?
One of the Forum’s most popular streams has always been one that examines human rights and public interest. This year workshops will explore a range of concerns, including immigration in southern Europe, the trafficking of women, corruption, strategic litigation against discrimination, and corporate social responsibility.
Looking beyond pro bono in Europe, the Forum’s global stream will offer workshops looking closely at pro bono and the Arab spring; Latin America; transitional nations such as China, India, Brazil, and Nigeria; global climate change, and other issues of rising world interest.