2024 Access to Justice

The Role of Bar Associations in Supporting Pro Bono

A workshop by Pro Bono SG and BABSEACLE


Lawyers all over the world have a strong sense of social justice.  They understand that a society governed by the rule of law loses its essence if its citizens cannot access justice due to the high costs of legal services.

They also know there are organizations dedicated to assisting the underserved, but they often lack the resources to avail the expertise of lawyers in governance, regulatory matters, and dispute resolution.

What often emerges is the gap between those lawyers willing and able to help, and those who need that help.  Bar Associations in all jurisdictions are uniquely placed to have a role in bridging that gap.


Bar Associations throughout Asia have concentrated on attempting to support their members who have the capacity to realise their pro bono ethical obligations to work pro bono with varying degrees of success. It is both a key member service and public benefit undertaking.

This workshop, which has been successfully institutionalized as a core initiative of the annual Asia Access to Justice Exchange (A2JX), with support from key bar association members from throughout Asia (and globally) will build on experiences and synergies from workshops and participants from years past. In doing so it will seek to showcase continuing and contemporary best practices of in fervent bar association pro bono support, as well as strategies connecting those who seek pro bono services with those who will provide them .


To achieve that outcome, the workshop will focus on the key aspects of that best practice 

  • How bar associations can, should, and do systematically support the development and strengthening of institutionalized pro bono systems within their jurisdictions;
  • How to identify the pro bono work which will address unmet legal need in jurisdictions bar associations serve;
  • How to identify lawyers prepared to undertake work pro bono, including law students, practising lawyers, retired lawyers, and paralegals;
  • How to identify the potential users of pro bono services in both wholesale and retail situations;
  • How to identify the barriers to undertaking pro bono work – including regulation, client protection, unsupportive legal employers, judicial practices, and out of pocket costs.


The workshop will move from plenary to break out sessions around the objectives set. Participants will be encouraged to both engage with expert presenters during the former, and bring the experience of their own jurisdictions to the latter.


The workshop is designed for bar association leaders/officers/policy makers, and staff members, as well as all lawyers with an interest in the provision of efficient pro bono service delivery, bar association officers and staff members, specialist committees and groupings of lawyers and students, not for profit organisations who use pro bono services, government officials engaged in supporting the access to justice/rule of law sector, and those non-lawyers whose clients need pro bono services.

Workshop Agenda

Time Session
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Registration and Welcome Coffee
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Welcome and Introduction

·         Objectives and overview of the session

·         Getting to know each other

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM Why Bar Associations should support pro bono discussion
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Visioning exercise “Future of Success” Team activity 

*Teams imagine a future 5 years from now where their Bar Association is a world leader in pro bono engagement of members and reflect on what it took to achieve that.

11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Break
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Stakeholder empathy exercise “Walking in the shoes of …” Team activity 

* Teams consider the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and attitudes of different access to justice stakeholder groups in relation to pro bono.

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Roadmap 2029 Team Activity 

* Ideation exercise – How can your Bar Association do better at …

* Team presentations

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Break
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Next steps and closing 

* Panel sharing with Q & A

* Closing remarks