SMU and RHT Rajan Menon Foundation affirm commitment to cultivate pro bono spirit among law students and within the legal fraternity

SMU and RHT Rajan Menon Foundation affirm commitment to cultivate pro bono spirit among law students and within the legal fraternity

In conjunction with the official launch of the Singapore Management University (SMU) Pro Bono Centre’s new premises at the SMU School of Law building today, the University announced a gift of S$300,000 from the RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, which will support the Centre for a period of five years starting from Academic Year 2017-2018.

Both parties are also delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Chan Sek Keong, former Chief Justice and current Senior Judge of the Singapore Supreme Court as the Centre’s Advisor.  Mr Chan unveiled the new premises today at the launch ceremony today, together with SMU Provost, Professor Lily Kong, and Mr Tan Chong Huat, Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation.

Since its establishment in 2013, the SMU Pro Bono Centre, headed by SMU Associate Professor Rathna N Koman, has been instrumental in cultivating the pro bono culture at SMU and in sensitising students to social justice issues.  By involving students in regular legal clinic work at the Centre which serves indigent members of the community, training students in client interviewing skills and managing legal clinics, and offering internship opportunities, the Centre exposes SMU law students to legal aid work and enables them to integrate academic work with real-life experience.  At the regional level, the Centre also collaborates with Asian universities, such as through internships, to raise pro bono consciousness among students.

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation is pleased to support the SMU Pro Bono Centre to advance the pro bono spirit within the legal fraternity. RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, a Singapore registered charity and grant-making philanthropic organisation, is the corporate social responsibility vehicle of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP (ranked 6th largest law firm in Singapore by the Singapore Business Review) and the RHT Group of Companies.

Mr Chan Sek Keong has kindly agreed to act as an advisor to the Centre. In his previous public roles, he had been a strong advocate of pro bono work by lawyers for the less fortunate in our society.  He also advocated the establishment of a mandatory pro bono programme for all Singapore law students as a realistic and simple for law students to learn from first-hand experience the legal problems that the poor encounter in their daily lives.  As Advisor, Mr Chan will provide counsel and guidance on the SMU Pro Bono Centre’s activities and plans.

Mr Tan Chong Huat said, “This collaboration with SMU Pro Bono Centre came about naturally. Both parties shared a common objective of instilling social responsibility in law students and lawyers towards the underprivileged. The Foundation’s support towards the SMU Pro Bono Centre embodies the philanthropic community spirit which we endorse. We are excited to work with and engage the students from SMU School of Law, guiding them to use their legal training to help those in need. We have already put in place a very exciting project to serve the elderly which we shall announce shortly. 

The Foundation’s work with the Centre will enable us to extend the impact of our pro bono initiatives by combining resources from the corporate world with the passion for pro bono that SMU, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and RHT Group of Companies exemplify.

Associate Professor Goh Yihan, Dean, SMU School of Law, said, “As stakeholders of the justice system, and in line with the University’s ethos, our School advocates a pro bono culture among students through various pro bono programmes which we have nurtured since our inception in 2007.  We are grateful to RHT Rajan Menon Foundation for their generosity and vote of confidence towards our efforts.  I am confident that together, our work will go a long way in nurturing law graduates with a strong sense of empathy and service.”

We are also extremely honoured and humbled to be able to benefit from Mr Chan Sek Keong’s wealth of experiences.  A highly-respected and eminent figure, he has 50 illustrious years of legal experience under his belt.  I have no doubt that, under his guidance, and through the combined efforts of all at our Pro Bono Centre, we will be able to make an even greater impact,” Associate Professor Goh added.

Please watch the video for the full interview.