The gap between the needs of indigents and state subsidised legal services, or pro bono legal services, exists in all societies. Singapore is not an exception. Traditionally the state and legal fraternity have assumed the responsibility to bridge this gap. Law schools, on the other hand, have traditionally and culturally confined themselves to the academic instruction of the law.
As stakeholders of the justice system, we advocate a pro bono culture amongst law students through various pro bono programs we have nurtured since 2007.
The Pro Bono Centre was established in 2013 in recognition of the Law School’s strong commitment to pro bono.
The core values of the Pro Bono Centre are to:
- instil legal professionalism and social responsibility in law students towards indigents, disenfranchised communities etc.;
- facilitate access to justice via its campus legal clinics for indigents;
- sensitise law students to social justice issues;
- provide opportunities to law students to integrate and appreciate academic work with clinical experience;
- demonstrate professional and community relevance in education beyond pedagogical relevance;
- foster a deeper engagement in pro bono activities with other stakeholders of justice.
All pro bono activities will be managed and centralized under this Centre. Additionally the Centre will, inter alia, be responsible for the following activities:
- running legal clinics at SMU;
- organise and host programs to raise pro bono consciousness. Locally, we will be hosting talks on topical areas. At regional level, we collaborate with Asian universities to raise pro bono consciousness amongst students in the area. e.g. Taiwan, Thailand
The Centre is headed by Associate Professor of Law Rathna N Koman who, since 2007, has been instrumental in cultivating the pro bono culture at SMU. Professor Rathna has been the faculty advisor for all pro bono activities since 2007 and plays a vital role in educating and inspiring law students to actively engage in pro bono activities. As Director she oversees the operation of the Centre with the assistance of Ms Rebecca Teo, Assistant Manager (Pro Bono Centre) and Mr Philip Charles Zerrillo Jr., Executive (Pro Bono Centre), and student representatives.