Interview with Rodrigo Buj, Partner at Mexican Law Firm, Malpica, Iturbe, Buj y Paredes. Rodrigo explains how a top litigation law firm can manage its schedules to be in a position to take on some probono cases. He also shares some insights about the most interesting cases.
Your firm, and you in particular, are very active in pro bono issues. How would you respond to lawyers that say they’d love to do pro bono work, but simply don’t have the time?
I think that today, lawyers must see pro bono cases in the same way than we see any other issues. If we see pro bono work from this standpoint, then I would find very difficult to believe in someone who says that they do not have time for pro bono, but may be taking new cases every other day. Either you want to take pro bono work personally and in your firm, or you don’t. The rest is just, like with all the work that we do as lawyers, a matter of resource allocation and organization. Pro bono must not be seen as charity, but rather, as social responsibility.
Does your firm have any specific approach to the non-billable hours work that pro bono issues entail? Are you at a disadvantage compared with partners that have just billable hours?
We do not make any difference for the time we, as partners, and our lawyers, invest in pro bono cases, against time spent on non pro bono cases. Even from an administrative point of view, a pro bono issue is opened as any other matter for our firm, and we charge our times, with full description of our services like we do regularly. None of the members of our team experience any disadvantage by participating in our pro bono cases. Quite the contrary, sometimes too many of our lawyers want to participate in these cases. Not only because they are very exciting, but also because for them, like for me, it is an honor and a pleasure to be able to use our time, our skills, and our passion in favor of our society.
What kind of pro bono work are you and your firm interested in taking on?
We mainly focus our pro bono work on strategic constitutional litigation. My view is that by engaging in strategic litigation, the time we invest in one case has an echo in many cases for the future, maximizing by doing so the possible impact of our work.
Could you detail one of the most important pro bono cases you have handled?
I don’t know if I could characterize one as more important than another, but a case that we are handling precisely at this moment is a very special one for us. In this case, we represent the very prestigious association called Mexicanos Primero, whose objective is the enhancement and the betterment of the education in Mexico. Specifically, in this case, through a constitutional procedure (amparo) we are compelling the authorities to provide adequate education in juvenile prisons in Mexico City. The final aim of this litigation is to ensure education and reintegration into society of the young men and women in this complex social situation.
Is there any other case that stands out for whatever reason you can share with us?
For us a much-cherished case was our participation a few years ago in obtaining through litigation the necessary authorization to allow same sex couples to adopt children.