Mandatory reporting for legal Pro Bono work done
24 Mar 2014 Posted in Press releases
Results of data collection will allow better understanding of pro bono landscape
- The Committee to Study Community Legal Services Initiatives (“CLSI Committee”) submitted its recommendation to the Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) and the Law Society of Singapore (“Law Society”) on 28 November 2013.
- Recommendations by CLSI Committee
The CLSI Committee was chaired by Justice of Appeal V K Rajah and included members of the Bar. It recommended mandatory reporting of pro bono hours by practising Singapore lawyers as a first step towards greater involvement in pro bono work by the legal fraternity. The recommendations by the CLSI Committee are as follows:
- Every advocate and solicitor applying for a practicing certificate will be required to report the time spent on pro bono work in the preceding year.
- Reporting will be done on an individual basis, but firms may take the additional step of declaring on a firm-wide basis.
- Pro bono work will include:
- Legal advisory / representation work for legal organisations and societies ; and
- Other law-related work (e.g. committee work for the Law Society of Singapore, the Singapore Academy of Law, the Singapore Mediation Centre, the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, any Ministry in a law reform project and sitting as a member of a Disciplinary Committee).
- Lawyers will not be subject to sanctions or adverse consequences for a report of zero pro bono hours clocked.
- The recommendations were arrived at after two public consultations. The CLSI Committee noted that there was no consensus within the profession at this point in time, to adopt mandatory pro bono.
- Mr Lok Vi Ming, President of the Law Society, said, “The Law Society welcomes these recommendations. The legal community has wider responsibilities to those who may not have the means to gain access to legal services. It is hoped that the mandatory reporting of pro bono hours will encourage more members of the profession to consider contributing back to society in their areas of expertise.”
- MinLaw also looks forward to the participation by more lawyers in pro bono work. The recommendations complement the Ministry’s recent amendments of the Legal Aid and Advice Act to expand coverage of civil legal aid; as well as its plans to increase funding to the Law Society for the running of its Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.
- Equally important, the mandatory reporting of pro bono hours will help to generate the necessary information that will enable a more holistic appraisal of the pro bono landscape in Singapore.
- Legislative amendments will be made to the Legal Profession Act to empower the Law Society to introduce the requirement for lawyers to disclose the number of hours they have spent each year on pro bono work. It is intended that mandatory reporting will be effected from 2015. Lawyers renewing their practising certificates in 2015 will have to report on their pro bono hours, if any, that were completed in 2014.
- The proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act to effect mandatory pro bono hours reporting will undergo public consultation from 24 March 2014 to 11 April 2014.
- The composition of the CLSI Committee is in Annex A (0.01MB) while details of the full report can be found in Annex B (0.07MB).
This includes Assigned Solicitor duties with the Legal Aid Bureau and pro bono legal work with the Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.
Last updated on 24 Mar 2014