Luthra & Luthra
New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, India
Barrera Siqueiros Torres Landa
Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico
What they did
Luthra & Luthra, a law firm based in India, began taking pro bono cases because they felt morally obligated to do
so. Rajiv Luthra, the firm’s founder and managing partner, explains that while economically disadvantaged people
in India have access to legal aid services, the same courtesy is not extended to activists and socially conscious
individuals and groups. Luthra & Luthra has tried to bridge that gap by working gratis on litigation involving animal
conservation and spreading health services. Rajiv says this way of giving back is very dear to him personally.
Barrera Siqueiros Torres Landa is a pro bono pioneer in Mexico. The law firm even hired a full-time employee, Lila
Alejandra Gasca, to coordinate its pro bono efforts. Barrera Siqueiros explains that social responsibility is
paramount to its work.
How you can do it
•Secure support. Rajiv says to make sure you have the support of senior management before you start. Without
that, fulfilling your pro bono work will be much harder.
•Define what you consider pro bono. For Barrera Siqueiros, it’s more than offering free services—they want to take
cases that can make a real impact in people’s lives.
•Reach out to potential clients. Lila says many nonprofits are unaware of the possibility of getting pro bono
assistance, so you may have to find them. So do some searching and introduce yourself, but be selective about
how widely you spread the word, lest you receive too many requests for help. One good, sustainable approach is to
attend events where you can talk and network with nonprofits. When they get to know you, they will organically
spread the word for you.
•Consider working with partners. Luthra & Luthra and Barrera Siqueiros are both members of TrustLaw Connect,
the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono service. Through them, they’re able to connect with
organizations working towards social change. Find out more here.
•Choose wisely. Lila suggests carefully examining what cases the firm will take before saying yes; it’s worth the
time to make a sound decision. Barrera Siqueiros studies each case specifically to see if it’s a good fit for them and
how they might best be of help.
•Incorporate pro bono work into the rest of work. At Luthra & Luthra, lawyers are allotted a certain of number of
hours during their normal work week to attend to pro bono projects. The fact that their pro bono time is carved out
of their regular hours and not added above and beyond encourages them to take on pro bono cases, as they don’t
have to worry about losing any billable/chargeable hours. Rajiv also says that during staff appraisals, lawyers’
involvement (or lack thereof) with pro bono cases is not brought up as grounds for judgment. At Barrera Siqueiros,
even if a lawyer ends up spending lots of time on a pro bono case, he or she is still eligible for bonuses come
annual review time. Practices like these help ensure that lawyers aren’t scared off from taking pro bono gigs.
•Keep growing. Lawyers at Luthra & Luthra participate regularly in forums and seminars related to their pro bono
work, which keeps them engaged and learning.
In 2013, over 96% of the lawyers at Barrera Siqueiros worked on pro bono projects, and the firm continues to grow
their efforts in this area, seeing more participation each year. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a 131% increase
in the number of pro bono hours served. Socios (partners) are also getting more involved; now almost half
participate in pro bono work. In addition to all these great numbers, Lila said that the pro bono client who had the
most support in 2013 received over 648 hours of assistance—that represents a huge in-kind donation of time and
Barrera Siqueiros has accumulated a number of awards for their pro bono work. They were recognized by
TrustLaw Connect with the Innovation Pro Bono Award for their work helping indigenous people in Mexico promote
and sell their art. And in 2012, Luthra & Luthra was given TrustLaw Connect’s Pro Bono Leaders Award.
Both firms’ pro bono efforts have brought them much notoriety and success, and have helped bring awareness to
issues of national importance. Their work has been widely reported in media, thereby bringing their cases to the
forefront and encouraging productive debate.
Rajiv counsels being seriously committed to any pro bono work you take on. That, along with being patient and
positive, will serve you well.