Legal aid services get boost with tie-up between SG Cares Office and Law Society Pro Bono Services

(From left) MCCY deputy secretary Ang Hak Seng, MCCY Minister Edwin Tong and Law Society Pro Bono Services chairman Gregory Vijayendran.
(From left) MCCY deputy secretary Ang Hak Seng, MCCY Minister Edwin Tong and Law Society Pro Bono Services chairman Gregory Vijayendran.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Volunteers at Singapore's various SG Cares Volunteer Centres could have their ranks bolstered by legal professionals under a new partnership with the Law Society Pro Bono Services (LSPBS).

This is part of what the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's SG Cares Office and the Law Society's pro bono arm aim to do under a memorandum of understanding they inked on Thursday (April 15).

"What we hope to do is to build up a corpus of skilled specialist lawyers who can then integrate better with the community as touch points through the Volunteer Centres," said LSPBS chairman Gregory Vijayendran.

Mr Vijayendran, who is also the Law Society's president, said the LSPBS will work with the SG Cares Office to identify the needs of those seeking help at the volunteer centres and look at how volunteer specialist lawyers can be deployed to serve such needs.

A Singapore-registered charity, the LSPBS provides legal assistance to people in need, as well as to community organisations that serve the needy and disadvantaged.

About 1,700 volunteers - comprising individuals and firms - participated in LSPBS' various programmes during its financial year which ended on March 31 last year.

Under the MOU, LSPBS will be a national-level intermediary for national volunteerism movement SG Cares to grow skills-based volunteerism within the legal sector.

Skills-based volunteerism refers to utilising one's professional skills and expertise when serving the community.

The LSPBS will also inculcate the values of care, consideration and contribution in working and young adults, including law undergraduates.

There are currently 14 volunteer centres in operation across Singapore.

This will grow to 24 by March next year, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who witnessed the MOU signing.

"The volunteer centres will be responsible for growing and coordinating volunteer supply, building volunteer management capabilities, and brokering partnerships between demand and supply at the town level," he added.

Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law, noted that legal assistance is often in demand in the community, particularly in the areas of family and criminal law.

"With the LSPBS joining hands with the volunteer centres... more lives will be touched and... changed for the better," he said.

In his opening address at the MOU signing ceremony, Mr Vijayendran said the LSPBS will continue its efforts to increase awareness of skills-based volunteer opportunities by tapping digital platforms and network partners.

There are also plans to offer volunteering opportunities that will tap a variety of skill sets, including legal ones, he added.

"This is a paradigm shift as the support required by the beneficiaries of our cause needs to be diagnosed and solved through an integrated problem-solving lens," he said.