Each time when you hear someone say, “I am engaging a lawyer…” I am sure that the dollar sign will be flashing before your eyes.
You will think that the cost to engage one is ridiculously high. You also might think that you will not be able to afford a lawyer should the need arise for you.
Do not lose hope, just yet. Here, we will discover that there are channels that you can approach with little or no fees involved should you need any free legal advice.
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How do you decide if you need to engage a lawyer in the first place? Do you qualify for a Pro Bono assistance?
People typically engage lawyers for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons are below-mentioned;
- Divorce proceedings
- Writing of will
- Property purchase or sale
- Deed poll to change your name
- Litigation issues
Some of the process are simple, while others are more complicated and will take more time for the issues to be resolved.
Normally, lawyers charge clients on an hourly basis and again the charges will depend on the complexity of the case as well as the seniority of the lawyer that you have engaged.
However, if you are in a dire need for legal advice and you are on a shoestring budget, these are the alternatives that you can turn to for legal advice.
Community Legal Clinics
Some of us might not be aware that there are legal clinics around Singapore that provide free legal advise for any legal issue. Where? You might wonder. There are legal clinics that are managed either by governmental or non-profit organizations.
The Law Society of Singapore, for example has Community Legal Clinics in multiple locations where you could approach should you need any legal advice.
They render their services to Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents presently residing in Singapore and the area that they specialise in is on personal matters. Some pointers to take note though;
- Legal clinic is available for anyone who has never sought any legal advise previously
- A volunteer lawyer will advise you for twenty (20) minutes on strictly confidential basis
- This clinic operates on Mondays to Thursdays (except for Public Holidays and Public Holiday eves)
- There are 4 different locations: Woodlands Civic Centre (North West District), Singapore Post Centre (South East District), The JTC Summit (South West District) and HDB Hub (Central District)
It is further advised for you to read through the ‘Know the Law Now’ eBook by http://probono.lawsociety.org.sg, before deciding to proceed to engage any lawyer as the booklet is written in layman’s terms which can be easily understood by general public.
Pro bono public, or pro bono in short, originated from the Latin language meaning “for the public good”. It is defined as “done without compensation for the public good”.
The book addresses common issues on Civil, Family, Criminal Proceedings, Work Related Issues and Estate Planning.
Please note that there is a two to three weeks waiting list when you try to make any arrangements to meet the lawyers at the Community Legal Clinic.
Pro-Bono Centre Legal Clinic @ Singapore Management University
This centre is conveniently located in the city and good for those who has court hearings on Mondays as their clinic operates on Friday evenings from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.
However, there is a certain criteria that you will need to meet before you are eligible to use this service. This centre is open for working singles earning less than $3,500 a month.
If you are married, you and your spouse must have a combined income of not more than $5,500 per month. For more information, you may visit their website at https://pbc.smu.edu.sg/pro-bono-projects
On-Site Legal Aid Scheme
The above-mentioned service is available at the premise of State Courts on Mondays to Fridays (except for Public Holidays and Eve of Public Holidays) at two time slots: 10am to 12.30pm and 2.30pm to 5.00pm.
This centre provides complimentary advice to those who need urgent legal advice and representing themselves in court.
No appointment is necessary, you are allowed to speak to the lawyer for twenty (20) minutes and able to utilise this service once only.
Consumer Association Of Singapore (CASE)
This is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that protects consumers’ rights. If you are being scammed by some dubious vendor or business, you can bring your issue to CASE and seek their assistance to help mediate your present situation.
You may either walk-in to CASE office on Mondays to Saturdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm or call to seek for advise or clarification and the officer will try their best to assist you.
Family Court Legal Clinic (The Law Society of Singapore)
This clinic is specifically for providing advice on family law matters. They operate every Tuesday (6pm to 7.15pm) and every Wednesday (4.30pm to 6.10pm). Each consultation with the lawyers is on average of twenty (20) minutes.
Association Of Women For Action And Research (AWARE)
This association caters specifically to women, with an income of not more than $3,000 and offers complimentary one-time consultations. For women with issues concerning family law, family violence, Syariah Law or other personal issues, they may approach AWARE or contact them through their hotline for assistance.
Legal Clinic (Action Community for Entrepreneurship – ACE)
For newbies in business and should you encounter any issues, you may approach ACE’s legal clinic at Ayer Rajah Crescent JTC. Their centre is open for legal consultations every alternate Tuesdays for two (2) hours from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.
Intellectual Property Legal Clinic
For any advice or consultations for intellectual property matters, you may approach Intellectual Property Legal Clinic by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.
The legal sessions are held every Thursdays and each session last for 45 minutes. There is a fee of between $200 to $400, however it is fully refundable by IPOS.
Jamiyah Legal Clinic
For matters relating to Syariah Law, you may refer to Jamiyah Legal Clinic by the Muslim Missionary Society Singapore or otherwise known as Jamiyah Singapore.
This centre provides services not only to Syariah Law that applies to the Muslims, but they also cater to people of all races and religion. The issues that can be brought to this centre ranges from family disputes, marriage issues as well as division of property or estate upon a demise of a family member.
The centre operates on Wednesdays (6:00pm to 7:00pm) and Saturdays (3:00pm to 5:00pm). They also provide value added service for those who are unable to make a trip personally to their office, by providing a video-conferencing service at kiosks available at Kaki Bukit Community Centre and Eunos Community Club.
So you see, now everyone can afford a legal representative or advice on legal matters should the need arise. There are good Samaritans who are willing to give back to the community by volunteering at these centres and provide sound legal advice to those in need.