In-House Legal Counsel Pro Bono guide.
The Law Society's Pro Bono Services Office has always made it a point to engage the wider legal fraternity, from law students to our in-house counterparts.
There is an increasing number of in-house legal counsel seeking to engage in pro bono legal work. Given their legal training, wealth of experience and diverse skill sets, in-house counsel are a valuable resource in the area of pro bono. However, while many in-house counsel are eager to use their legal knowledge and skills to give back to the community, they are unsure of the scope of work which they are allowed to undertake, as well as the opportunities available to them.
Until recently, lawyers without practising certificates (including in-house legal counsel) were limited in their ability to provide pro bono legal services. So while many in-house legal counsels are eager to use their legal knowledge and skills to give back to the community, they were unsure of the scope of work which they are allowed to undertake, as well as the opportunities available to them. That changed with the Legal Profession (Pro Bono Legal Services) Rules 2013, which gave such lawyers more opportunities to volunteer their skills on a pro bono basis.
DLA Piper, The Law Society's Pro Bono Services Office and the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association are therefore very pleased to have launched the Singapore In-House Pro Bono Guide on 29 January 2016. The Guide explains the 2013 Rules and helps such lawyers understand the issues governing pro bono legal work, in-house legal counsel liabilities, and policy and procedural considerations in establishing, running and cultivating a culture of volunteering in pro bono legal programmes for in-house legal departments. It also discusses the opportunities open to individual in-house lawyers who wish to undertake pro bono legal work independent of their employers. It is indeed a useful reference for in-house legal counsel as it provides a roadmap on establishing and managing in-house pro bono projects.
In addition, businesses that wish to expand Corporate Social Responsibility efforts may also refer to the Guide for opportunities for their legal departments to contribute their skills to help the community.
Following the launch of the Guide, we have been approached by many in-house counsel who shared that they were excited to find out that there are opportunities for them to do pro bono legal work even though they have left practice. They have since registered as volunteers for various schemes run by the PBSO. We are delighted to witness the spirit of pro bono infusing the whole legal fraternity. We would also like to express our gratitude to our in-house counsel brethren who have been volunteering different capacities over the years and participated in our schemes to facilitate or guide new volunteers coming forward.
The Singapore In-House Pro Bono Guide is available online for free download HERE