NUS Law Steps Up Pro Bono Efforts

NUS Law recently helped to sponsor and organise the 3rd Annual Asia Pro Bono Conference, held for the first time in Singapore from 2 - 4 October, 2014. The Conference was a joint collaboration between the Law Society of Singapore, Bridges Across Borders SEA CLE, NUS Law and the Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS).

The conference focused on the important role that pro bono plays in access to justice and attracted a variety of stakeholders, including practitioners and law firms, in-house counsel, law society representatives, members of the judiciary and non-government organisations, academics, and students. The first two days saw an attendance of over 370 people from 25 countries. The Conference showcased Singapore’s pro bono efforts, and included plenary talks by Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Law and Education, and Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon, State Court of Singapore. The Conference also included representatives from countries around the region, with lawyers and teachers from around Asia sharing programmes, problems and support.

The conference also included another first – a focus on legal education and student pro bono efforts, spearheaded by Associate Professor Helena Whalen-Bridge. Days 1 and 2 of the Conference included panellists Nyugen Vu Lan ’17 and Lim Wei Zhen ’17 (current LL.B. students); former NUS Law student Ang Jian Kai ’13, Associate, WongPartnership LLP; Associate Professor Helena Whalen-Bridge; and NUS Law Senior Lecturer Sheila Hayre. NUS Law students even presented their own session, which demonstrated community legal education in the migrant worker sector to Conference attendees.

Day 3 of the conference was held at the NUS Law Bukit Timah Campus. The conference featured a panel that discussed the role of pro bono in legal education, chaired by Professor Tan Cheng Han ’87, SC, who was recognised for his longstanding support for student pro bono activities. Other panels included “Transitions: From Pro Bono Student to Pro Bono Lawyer”, with former NUS Law student Mervyn Cheong ’08, Senior Associate, Eugene Thuraisingam (Singapore), as well as an afternoon devoted to student pro bono programmes and its regional development.

The Pro Bono Conference received support from NUS Law as well as Professor Andrew Harding and CALS, which sought to back the dual aims of the conference: research into regional access to justice and capacity building. CALS also provided invaluable logistical support, and its personnel were on hand to extend a warm welcome for the sessions held on campus.

Moving forward, Associate Professor Whalen-Bridge and CALS will continue to be involved in the 4th Annual Asia Pro Bono Conference, which will be held in Mandalay, Myanmar from 4 – 7 September, 2015.

Professor Andrew Harding, director of CALS, delivers the welcome speech for the conference held at NUS Law.

Associate Professor Helena Whalen-Bridge


For more images of the event, click here.