One Stop for All Pro Bono Activities
NUS Law officially launched an online portal for pro bono projects on March 10, 2014. Named “Start Now Law”, the set-up of the portal is to encourage and enhance students’ involvement in legal pro bono activities. Ms Indranee Rajah ’86, Senior Minister of State, Ministry for Law and Ministry for Education, launched the portal in the presence of NUS Law students, faculty and alumni.
The portal is an initiative by the Pro Bono Office (PBO), and acts as 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.
Dean Simon Chesterman said: “NUS Law has a tradition of voluntary pro bono service, where students have, for many years, initiated and undertaken pro bono activities. Our student groups, such as the NUS Pro Bono Group and the NUS Criminal Justice Club, have initiated many pro bono projects in which they render legal assistance to the elderly and the underprivileged in society. I believe these invaluable experiences will go a long way in preparing them for their legal careers and in nurturing them as a generation of civic-minded legal professionals. The ‘Start Now Law’ portal will facilitate and encourage more students to proactively create and get involved in pro bono activities.”
With the online portal, students and pro bono host organisations can post pro bono opportunities on 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. The students will also be presented with certificates of participation upon completion.
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 on the portal that students can start signing up for, such as the Healthserve Legal Clinic, Legal Awareness Talk at Trans Family Services Centre, HOME Legal Education WorkShop for Domestic Workers, and the PBSO Community Legal Clinics ( PBSO is the Law Society Pro Bono Services Office).
Assoc Prof Lim Lei Theng '92, Chair of NUS Law Pro Bono Committee, said: “The idea of developing this portal is to nurture students’ commitment in initiating pro bono projects while facilitating the tracking of these activities. Voluntary Welfare Organisations and other pro bono host institutions will also be able to leverage on the ‘Start Now Law’ portal to provide pro bono opportunities for our students. Such a platform inculcates the spirit of volunteerism among students by contributing their learning back to the community.”