Legal Representation and Pro Bono Developments: Singapore

At the proposal of the Singapore Institute of Legal Education, Singapore’s two law schools will establish mandatory pro bono programmes for undergraduate law students. The programmes are to start from 2013.

In his 2012 speech during the opening of the legal year, the then Singapore Chief Justice called on more lawyers to take on pro bono cases. Noting that such a commitment to pro bono can be nurtured, it is in this spirit that Singapore’s future lawyers will be exposed to pro bono work during their student days.

In Singapore, the State does not guarantee across-the-board free legal representation in criminal cases for indigent persons. An exception to this is the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offenders (LASCO) run by the Supreme Court Registry which ensures those charged with a capital offence access to assigned lawyers. This makes access to high quality pro bono all the more important in Singapore. Currently, Singapore lawyers provide pro bono for criminal cases via the Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme and the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore.

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