This academic year (2011/12), members of the NUS Pro Bono Group are involved in the following 6 projects. We invite you to take a look through our descriptions of our various projects, as well as find out more about what our members have experienced and the fun they’ve had in our featured Project of the Month! There will also be various ad hoc projects that will be available when organisations require volunteers.
2) Moot Parliament Programme
The Moot Parliament Programme (MPP) is spearheaded by MOE’s Gifted Education Branch and seeks to increase the awareness of upper secondary students to public policy issues. The Programme starts in January and ends in August. During these short but exciting 8 months, student groups will research areas of the law which they feel merit a change, and to that effect, either propose a bill to amend or to introduce new legislation.
The NUS Pro Bono Group assists the students during the research and bill drafting process, contributing valuable input into the student’s research process and helping them source for research materials such as cases and statutes.
HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics) is a very special organization that offers help to foreign workers in need, either of legal counsel, a place to stay, meals and some fellowship. Students do two kinds of work: research projects and events during the school term, and hands-on work at the legal helpdesk during the school holidays.
The research projects explore the varying aspects of law that foreign workers will face. Project Maritime Labour examines the impact the introduction of the ILO’s Maritime Convention on Singapore’s legal scene. Know Your Rights examines the law concerning the issues that foreign workers will generally face. Project Migrant Worker examines the legality of repatriation companies and ministry policy towards the issue.
Students can also raise awareness on issues such as the Day Off Campaign, which aims for employers to give domestic workers a day off every week.
Students assist in ascertaining the nature of the problem the worker is facing and pass the case on to a more experienced staff member to render assistance. As students become more adept, they serve as translators, escort foreign workers to labour court hearings, and regardless of a student’s ability to speak good Mandarin or write neatly, he or she will definitely find friends in the many residents and volunteers at HOME’s shelter facility.
The University Court Friends (UCF) scheme is a partnership between the Subordinate Courts, NUS law school and SMU law school. Volunteers will be involved in 1 of 3 Divisions over a span of 8 weeks – the Small Claims Tribunal, the Crime Registry or the Family Court – where they will have a wide range of opportunities to find out how our Courts function, as well as help litigants-in-person with procedural matters at the Court. This may involve anything from recording down a claimant’s statement of facts, to explaining claim forms or Court notices to parties, to sitting in with the Registrars/Magistrates during mediation sessions with parties.
5) Project Law Help
Project Law Help seeks to create a website that provides free and readily available legal pointers for organisations and individuals that want to set up Voluntary Welfare Organisations or Charities. Students work with both the law society and Professor Helena Whalen-Bridge from the NUS Law Faculty to help these Voluntary Welfare Organisations and Charities know the legal boundaries that they operate in, especially in light of the increase in philanthropy in Singapore. Students will also have the opportunity to observe the legal clinics where lawyers give legal advice to Voluntary Welfare Organisations or Charities.
6) Legal Clinics
The CDC legal clinics are held every week from Monday to Thursday. The legal clinics give each student volunteer a chance to experience first hand the process of advice-giving by practising lawyers to real client regarding real life issues. It not only allows volunteers to learn the thought process of practising lawyers, it also raises the awareness of various issues that one may not experience usually. Other similar legal clinics are the SCWO legal clinic, legal clinic for charities and NGOs, and Healthserve legal clinic. Volunteers from each of these legal clinics will come across different types of issues, e.g. legal clinic for charities and NGOs help organisations rather than persons, while the Healthserve legal clinic helps foreign workers.
Vacation Internship: Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS)
Every school break, the Law Society’s Pro Bono Services Office offers 2 week long attachments where students can learn more about pro bono work in Singapore.
CLAS will also seek help from student volunteers to aid lawyers, who are working on a case pro bono, personally. This gives the volunteers a good opportunity to learn how lawyers actually work on their cases.