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Allen & Gledhill and NUS Faculty of Law establish the A&G-NUS CLAS Pro Bono Internship Programme
16 Sep 2016

Allen & Gledhill (A&G) and the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (NUS Law) have jointly established the inaugural A&G-NUS CLAS Pro Bono Internship Programme to provide NUS Law students with the opportunity to gain holistic experience in criminal defence while learning about balancing pro bono work with litigation practice. This is the first formal partnership between a law firm and NUS Law focusing on pro bono work.

Under the Programme, selected NUS law students will be offered off-site internships with A&G which will focus solely on pro bono criminal defence work. They will be under the mentorship of A&G lawyers who volunteer to take on pro bono cases under the Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS), and will assist the lawyers in the management of the defence of accused persons. In preparation, the interns will receive training from the NUS Pro Bono Office in criminal procedure and drafting. CLAS assists accused persons who do not have the financial means to engage counsel in criminal proceedings to receive free legal aid by volunteer lawyers. A&G lawyers have long been volunteers and supporters of CLAS.
 
The internship will provide NUS Law students with the opportunity to experience the entire gamut of criminal defence work for each case they assist in, including accompanying A&G lawyers to client interviews and court appearances, researching points of law and procedure, drafting documents and assisting in trials. Under the Programme, A&G lawyers will also have the opportunity to engage with budding young lawyers and collaborate on rendering pro bono criminal legal aid to those in need.
 
Lee Kim Shin, Managing Partner of A&G, said: “The ability to contribute to society through pro bono initiatives is a special honour and privilege for lawyers. Our Firm hopes that the A&G-NUS CLAS Pro Bono Internship Programme will help to strengthen the pro bono spirit in both our lawyers and the participating NUS law students alike and at the same time, provide such students with practical training on criminal litigation.”  
 
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law, said: “The A&G-NUS CLAS Pro Bono Internship Programme is an excellent platform for our students to be exposed to criminal legal aid work under the guidance of top notch litigation lawyers. In addition, our students will learn first-hand that it is possible to have a successful legal career while still giving back to society by offering pro bono legal aid.”
 
NUS Law has a strong tradition of student-driven pro bono efforts that predates the Mandatory Pro Bono Programme for Law Students. The School is home to the first ever student-run pro bono organisation, the NUS Pro Bono Group, as well as the Criminal Justice Club, a student-run organisation focusing on access to justice for accused persons. The NUS Pro Bono Office oversees and co-ordinates pro bono efforts.
 
A&G has a multi-faceted approach to its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, involving initiatives such as community engagement, charitable giving, thought leadership and a pro bono programme through which A&G lawyers take on CLAS cases regularly. Headed on a full-time basis by A&G partner Chan Hian Young, the Firm’s pro bono programme has involved over 200 A&G lawyers since it was launched in 2008. Notable CLAS cases A&G has acted on include Public Prosecutor v Lim Seok Imm, where the accused was acquitted of a drug possession charge after it was shown at trial that the drugs in question may not have belonged to the accused, and Veeramani Manikam v Public Prosecutor, where the accused's 20-year imprisonment sentence for drug importation was overturned on appeal.

 

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