Empirical data in Colombia demonstrates that pro bono work by lawyers is both urgently needed by scarce-resourced communities and limitedly offered by the legal community. The restrictions of the legal market, especially with regards to its offer of legal services for the underprivileged, has direct consequences in the levels of poverty and inequality in Colombia. Thus, this paper hopes to contribute an answer the question: how can pro bono work help broaden, equalize, and ensure access to justice in Colombia? Part I includes an explanation of the statistics obtained from the survey of PBF law firm pro bono coordinators and interns and relevant data from the National Survey of Unmet Legal Needs. Part II comprises a discussion of the four main challenges identified through the empirical analysis. First, triage obstacles arise when assigning a case to one of the available legal aid outlets, and pro bono plays into these dynamics. Second, there is a significant gap between the first-order legal needs of the low-income population, and the type and amount of services offered through pro bono arrangements with law firms. Third, as a legal transplant, pro bono work faces infrastructure challenges. Finally, the fourth challenge stems from how improper practices can arise structurally around the figure of the pro bono intern in law firms. Part III explores the possibilities presented by pro bono programs in light of the current challenges assessed in the previous sections. It identifies actors in the legal community who could contribute to positive change, as well as recommendations for new legislation, changes to law school curricula, institutional improvements, and prevention of the misuse of certain pro bono mechanisms. Part IV presents the conclusions drawn from the specific findings of this article.


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pp. 189-229
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