At Harry Elias Partnership, we take corporate social responsibility seriously. It was part of our foundation when we first started doing business in the region and continues to be an important philosophy for the firm today.
From performing pro-bono work for those most in need of legal aid, to contributing to the community through legal education, we aim to give back to the community as much as we can. We believe in being not only professional but also responsible and ethical, and we are committed to upholding standards in the legal industry.
Doing Pro Bono
We have long been supporters of pro bono work. This goes back to 1985 when Mr. Harry Elias helped establish and became the Founding Chairman of the Law Society of Singapore’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme to assist those who were unable to afford legal representation. Mr Elias was inspired to act after reading figures on the number of low-income Singaporeans and handled one of the scheme’s first cases - securing the dismissal of charges against a woman accused of shoplifting. Mr Elias enlisted numerous lawyers and corporate sponsors to contribute time and money to the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. This spirit has spread throughout our firm. We believe in giving back to society and providing fair, equal access to high quality professional legal skills to those most in need and unable to afford them.
Since only a few lawyers and firms in Singapore offered pro bono work, we partnered with the Law Society Pro Bono Services (LSPBS) to be the first law firm in Singapore to provide more structured support to enhance the effectiveness of the pro bono programmes of LSPBS. We were the first law firm to establish a minimum pro bono pledge of 25 hours per year by each of our lawyers.
Contributing to Community
We are passionate about improving the lives of Singaporeans within the community.
In 2011 we supported Singapore’s first Micro Credit Business Scheme (MCBS), a scheme designed to provide business loans to low income individuals, and help Singaporeans become more self-reliant by starting up or expanding their micro business. We prepared documents and provided legal advice on issues arising from this microloan scheme.
In the same year we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) to jointly develop and implement a grant to assist companies when it came to defraying legal costs relating to the development and implementation of projects related to waste management.
On the professional front we continually support the role of the Law Society and its efforts made to uphold standards in the legal industry. We were named “Contributor of the Year” by the Law Society of Singapore in 2011.
Supporting Legal Training and Education
We support legal training and education for many people in Singapore, from junior college students, to law undergraduates, to business people.
We collaborated with the Singapore Mediation Centre to introduce a series of free public lectures on international commercial mediation to students and businesses. This was the first time that a leading law firm in Singapore had committed themselves to the education of local businesses on issues of international commercial mediation.
We also hosted a Corporate Ethics and Governance Seminar in 2012 to help over 200 local businesses learn more about identifying risks in the marketplace and how to better legally protect them should an event arise.
We organise and sponsor law debates for junior colleges at the national level. Mirroring actual court proceedings, students are challenged to research and argue legal issues against other student teams as well as to answer challenging questions from judges. With its highly interactive format and emphasis on research and written submissions, this is arguably one of the most rigorous debate tournaments available to students, allowing them to gain significant experience in a courtroom setting and helping to prepare them for a career in law.
We have organised and sponsored the annual moot tournament with Singapore Management University (SMU) since 2010. This is a national moot court competition, open to law students from SMU and the National University of Singapore. It provides law students with a rigorous and challenging platform for them to gain exposure to advocacy and the opportunity to interact with senior lawyers from our firm, but also High Court Judges and legal luminaries who are invited as guests of honour to judge the Grand Finals.
Our collaboration with SMU extends beyond moot tournaments. We have also sponsored various prizes for academic achievement, such as a prize for the Top Student in Negotiation and Mediation and for the Top Student in Family Law, which are awarded to candidates of sufficient merit in the SMU School of Law’s Negotiation and Mediation and Family Law courses respectively.