Speaking up for others now

Mr Thevar finds it rewarding help someone get back on his feet.
Mr Thevar finds it rewarding help someone get back on his feet.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Mr Pravin Thevar, 28, used to get into trouble with the discipline master at school and liked the idea of "fighting for himself".

Now a commercial litigator with Gabriel Law Corporation, he said: "When I was in school, if I thought the teacher wasn't being fair or if she made a decision I didn't agree with, I would voice it out. But teachers thought I had an attitude problem and they sent me to the discipline master countless times.

"It actually pushed me to want to study law because I wanted to be able to know and control what the boundaries were."

The civil lawyer graduated from Singapore Management University and was called to the Bar in 2013.

While he enjoys the complexity of commercial litigation and admits it pays better, he has always wanted to try his hand at criminal law. So he started volunteering with the Law Society last year and has taken on about 10 criminal cases so far.

Said Mr Thevar: "I enjoy learning something new, and criminal law is completely different from civil law. You also get the chance to appear in court and argue cases.

"I try not to get emotionally involved, but it is rewarding when you help someone get back on his feet."

He works about 12 hours a day at the law firm, and will spend extra time after work or on weekends to work on the pro bono cases, which include shop theft, petty fights and criminal intimidation.

"You really meet a lot of different people. Volunteering gives you perspective on how fortunate you are... It makes me wonder how the accused persons would have turned out if they had access to the same opportunities many of us take for granted," he said.

"I learnt that you have to be committed to the idea that there is innate goodness in everyone and that we are all deserving of human flourishing."

Lim Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 29, 2016, with the headline 'Speaking up for others now'. Print Edition | Subscribe