Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 07/22/2013 18:06 | By Channel NewsAsia

Moves to bring pro-bono work closer to community

Moves to bring pro-bono work closer to community


Moves to bring pro-bono work closer to community

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Academy of Law aims to bring pro-bono services closer to the community.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the move is part of the legal fraternity's year-long Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Launching the inaugural Law Week on Monday, the Chief Justice said the free talks and clinics will focus on relevant topics such as employment matters.

The talks will be held over this week at the Supreme Court auditorium.

Lawyers are also encouraged to get involved in pro-bono activities -- talks have been planned to equip them with up-to-date knowledge on legal developments.

Over the next five days, guest speakers from the public service, private practice and academic communities will discuss specialised areas of law.

The focus will be on areas that affect the community -- namely criminal law and procedure, mediation, contract law, tort law, civil procedure as well as constitutional and administrative law.

Mr Menon said no decision has been taken to make pro-bono work compulsory for all lawyers.

He said the plan for now is to have mandatory reporting of their involvement, before taking a position later.

He said: "If you look at it from the point of view where legal aid reaches, it shouldn't really matter. And I personally think, even if you are idealistic, even if you are giving from the heart, the fact that there are rules to capture those who don't yet feel the need to get involved, shouldn't impact your own sense of satisfaction and being involved in this.

"The correct approach we should take is to have an interim situation of mandatory reporting for lawyers to report pro-bono involvement that they have -- we can then monitor the position with real objective data and take another look at it... We will approach this cautiously, moderately, and access the position once we have got back the data."

A special commemorative publication titled "Know the Law NOW!" was also launched on Monday morning.

Available at the courts, community centres and community development councils as well as online, the publication allows the public to understand the law and their own legal rights -- without technical jargon.

Those who need free legal help but do not know where to find it can refer to an interactive directory at www.probono.lawsociety.org.sg.

The website gives users a snapshot of all legal clinics available in Singapore.

The directory will list relevant information such as location, frequency and opening hours of all legal clinics.

Public can also post their queries online and get general legal information at LegalHelp portal www.legalhelp.com.sg, a free online platform supported by volunteer lawyers.  - CNA/jc

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