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April 2013
Vance Center eNotes
Welcome to the Vance Center eNotes, where you can read about our organization's latest news and developments.

Vance Center 10th Year Anniversary


On May 7, the Vance Center will celebrate our 10th anniversary by honoring key founders who got us started and have kept us strong.  Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Manhattan District Attorney, graciously has agreed to speak on this happy occasion, as will City Bar President Carey R. Dunne.  The honorees are Barbara Berger Opotowsky, outgoing City Bar Executive Director, former City Bar Presidents Evan A. Davis and Michael A. Cooper, founding Vance Center Executive Director Joan Vermuelen, and the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.  We welcome all guests to the City Bar Library at 6pm and offer Peruvian appetizers and refreshments.  Click here for the invitation and to RSVP.

Bancolombia Joins Fundaci�n Pro Bono Colombia


Vance Center partner Fundacin ProBono Colombia reported that Bancolombia's legal department has become a member of the Fundaci�n. As the largest banking institution in Colombia, Bancolombia will be able to contribute significant legal resources to the community through the expertise of its department's 217 lawyers. The Fundaci�n is a network of law firms and other legal institutions in Colombia committed to pro bono legal service, as confirmed in its adherence to the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas. Bancolombia's membership will further the Fundaci�n's mission of serving the public interest through pro bono legal services for the underprivileged.


Mauricio Rosillo, Vice President of Bancolombia's legal department, explained that the decision to join the Fundaci�n came from Bancolombia's values of community respect and inclusion. Mr. Rosillo said Bancolombia sees its role as facilitating access to justice and sees its lawyers as, "promoters of equality and development in the community through offering technical knowledge to Colombian society, especially to those who do not have access specialized legal services."


Fundaci�n ProBono Colombia also reported that it expects to increase its operations in Medell�n with the addition of Bancolombia. The pro bono outreach of Bancolombia, along with two other partnering law firms in Medell�n -- Contexto Legal and Correa Merino -- will expand the level of support available to clients in the region.

Vance Center Awarded Grant for South African Conference


The ACE Rule of Law Fund has awarded the Vance Center a grant to support the South Africa Legal Fellows Program and specifically a conference on May 17, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Alumni of the Program are organizing the conference to consider opportunities and challenges for lawyers-of-color in the South African legal profession.  The Vance Center will use the AROLF grant to commission an independent survey of diversity in the profession, for which existing public data are scarce.  The conference, hosted by the University of Witswatersrand School of Law, will highlight the survey results and consider needs and ways to strengthen diversity.  The AROLF grant also will enable the Vance Center to continue to support the Program alumni as they implement strategies developed at the conference.


The South Africa Legal Fellows Program over a dozen years has selected 40 South African lawyers to work in international law firms and corporate legal departments in New York City.  These lawyers have returned to South Africa and excelled in their professional careers, as highlighted in the March 2013 eNotes. The host law firms themselves have reported that the South African lawyers fulfilled expectations for their work and also boosted morale in the workplace.  The Vance Center currently is selecting South African lawyers to start the Program in the fall of 2013.


The ACE Rule of Law Fund is a unique partnership among ACE Group, its legal staff and several of its partner law firms that supports projects to enhance the rule of law around the world. The Fund is financed by the voluntary contributions of ACE lawyers, matched by ACE's charitable foundation, its general counsel and by its partner firms. The ACE Group is one of the world's largest multiline property and casualty insurers with operations in 53 countries. 


The ACE Rule of Law Fund previously has supported the Vance Center's 2011 conference in Santiago, Chile, at which more than 200 lawyers from the Americas gathered to consider how to institutionalize pro bono practice, and the Vance Center's November 2012 program at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at which 73 lawyers from 42 law firms in 14 countries learned how to represent petitioners before the Commission on a pro bono basis.  The Vance Center gratefully acknowledges the generosity and commitment of the Fund, and particularly thanks ACE General Counsel Robert Cusumano, member of the Vance Center Committee.

Alianza Pro Bono Launches in Peru


Eighteen law firms in Lima, Peru, committed to providing high quality legal services on a pro bono basis to disadvantaged individuals and communities, announcend the launch of Alianza Pro Bono, a pro bono legal clearinghouse.  The Alizana members will work with Ciudadano al Dia, a long-time clearinghouse, to identify and collaborate on pro bono opportunities across Peru.  


Todd Crider, Taisa Markus, Marc Rossell, and Antonia Stolper of the Vance Center Committee, and Elizabeth Millard and Dina Stukanow of the Vance Center staff recently met with representatives of the Alianza in Lima.  They shared ideas and strategies for encouraging lawyers to do pro bono work and for institutionalizing pro bono service at law firms.  "Your help has been instrumental to the launching of the Alizana Pro Bono," Enrique Felicies of Miranda & Amado told them on behalf of the Alianza.  "We want to thank the Vance Center and each of you individually for your continued and valuable support throughout the years. Your help has been instrumental to the launching of the Alianza Pro Bono."


The current members of Alianza are:


Azabache Caracciolo Abogados

Delmar & Ugarte Abogados

Deustua & Halperin Abogados

Ernst & Young

Estudio Benites, Forno & Ugaz

Estudio Echecopar

Estudio Fern�ndez, Heraud & S�nchez

Estudio Ferrero

Estudio de la Flor, Garc�a Mont�far, Arata & Asociados

Estudio Osterling Abogados

Galvez & Dolorier Abogados

Garc�a Say�n Abogados

Lazo, de Roma�a & Gagliuffi Abogados

Loli & Garc�a Cavero Abogados

Miranda & Amado Abogados

Priori, Carrillo & C�ceres Abogados

Rodrigo, El�as & Medrano Abogados

Rubio Legu�a Normand

Vance Fellow Is Recognized for Pro Bono Work


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has named Amit Parekh to the firm's 2012 Pro Bono Honor Roll for his substantial contribution to the firm's pro bono and public service matters. Amit is a participant in the Vance Center's South African Legal Fellows Program.   

As a Vance Fellow at Cleary, Amit has worked on corporate and financial transactions, particularly in debt capital markets and leveraged finance. In addition, he regularly has advised international financial institutions on South African securities, banking and financial services regulations. Amit joined Cleary from Bowman Gilfillan in South Africa.  He received a law degree, magna cum laude, from Pretoria University School of Law, South Africa in 2008, and while at Bowmans also lectured at the Oliver Shreiner School of Law at the University of Witswatersrand, where he taught Jurisprudence and International Human Rights Law.  After his Vance Center fellowship at Cleary ends, Amit plans to do an LL.M. program at Harvard Law School, and then to return to South Africa to resume the practice of law there.


Amit has worked on several pro bono projects at Cleary, including the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, which provides legal assistance and policy advocacy to help refugees who cannot return to their former lives due to the ongoing sectarian violence in Iraq.  Amit observed, "Cleary Gottlieb lawyers bring a sense of purpose and conviction to all of their pro bono efforts. Having had the privilege of working on the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project reaffirmed my belief that, as lawyers, we have a responsibility to apply our talents for the benefit of less privileged individuals and communities." 

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