The Faculty of Law (NUS Law) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has launched ‘Start Now Law‘, an online portal for pro bono projects to encourage and enhance students’ involvement in voluntary legal work without payment.
The portal is the first of its kind on pro bono work in Singapore. Indranee Rajah (pictured), Senior Minister of State, Ministry for Law and Ministry for Education, launched the portal in the presence of NUS Law students, faculty and alumni.
On ‘Start Now Law’, NUS Law students and pro bono host organisations can post pro bono opportunities in the portal and students can sign up for these opportunities directly with the host organisations.
Students will also be able to track their own pro bono activities on the portal throughout their education at NUS Law, which they can present as a record to future employers. Upon completing the pro bono activities, students will also be presented with certificates of participation.
The portal was developed over a period of 12 months since February 2013, involving consultation with student groups such as the NUS Pro Bono Group and the NUS Criminal Justice Club.
For a start, there are more than 40 pro bono activities available in the portal that students can start signing up for, such as the Healthserve Legal Clinic, Legal Awareness Talk at TRANS Family Service Centre (Bukit Timah), HOME Legal Education Workshop for Domestic Workers, and the Law Society of Singapore Pro Bono Services Office Community Legal Clinics.
An initiative by NUS Law’s Pro Bono Office (PBO), the portal will be a springboard for the upcoming Mandatory Pro Bono Scheme, which requires law students to fulfil 20 mandatory hours of pro bono work prior to graduation.
PBO was established in September 2012, with the support of the Singapore Academy of Law and the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, to coordinate the mandatory pro bono scheme.
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Faculty of Law, said: “NUS Law has a long tradition of pro bono service, including through the NUS Pro Bono Group and the NUS Criminal Justice Club. Our students have initiated many projects in which they render legal assistance to the disadvantaged. These projects offer a chance to experience law ‘in action’ rather than just ‘in the books’. But pro bono work also helps our students to see the impact that a good lawyer can have on society. It makes them better lawyers — and perhaps better people. The ‘Start Now Law’ portal will enable even more students to get involved in such pro bono activities.”