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Introducing Pro Bono to SVDP

by Danyelle Lee

For many of us, the law is something that seems foreign and unknown. It is something that most of us would not like to encounter. Now, the first question most people would ask would be: What is Pro Bono?

The term “pro bono,” which is short for pro bono publico, is a Latin term that means “for the public good.” In legal terms it means professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.

The Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) Pro Bono Clinics aim to help the financially poor and disadvantaged in our community for access to legal aid. Their aim is to reach out to all people in Singapore and the CLG has started setting up Legal Clinics in 10 churches all around Singapore with two clinics in Agape Village. 

This begs the question of who can seek legal aid from the CLG Pro Bono Clinics. CLG says that those who are facing a legal issue concerning a personal matter only, have not sought legal advice before, and are unable to afford a lawyer can seek help from the CLG Pro Bono Clinic.

Some examples of what a personal matter would constitute would be issues regarding family, employment, personal injury and monetary claims among other things. Although the CLG Pro Bono Clinics were set up with the intention of catering to the parishioners of SVDP, the CLG Pro Bono Clinic warmly welcomes all, regardless of religion, race or nationality.

It is being set up in SVDP by one of our own parishioners, Joseph Lopez, who is a practising lawyer in Singapore and a Nominated Member of the Parish Pastoral Council. He says that the CLG Pro Bono Clinics have helped many in Singapore to access legal aid although details cannot be disclosed. This takes us on to our next point of confidentiality.

For those who are contemplating approaching the CLG Pro Bono Clinics for legal aid but are unsure and are still hesitating, confidentiality is observed to the highest degree by the lawyers hearing your legal issues.

The CLG will ensure that the lawyer assisting you with your legal issue is not someone from the same parish so that confidentiality can be maintained. If this is holding you back from approaching the CLG Pro Bono Clinics for help, you are encouraged to take that first step to seek the legal aid you require.

To begin taking your first steps in your journey of seeking legal aid, it is important to take note of the following:

1.You will have to register online or email the CLG administrator at admin@clgsingapore.com to make an appointment.

2.It would be great if you could provide any information or documents related to the legal matter you are seeking help for so that the lawyer assisting you can better understand the situation.

3.You will be contacted by one of the CLG volunteer lawyers who has been assigned to your case

It should also be noted that the CLG is continuing to operate amidst COVID restrictions, so your session might take place in SVDP or online, depending on the restrictions.