For more than seven years, Herbert Smith Freehills has partnered with non-profit organisation BABSEACLE on pro bono initiatives across Asia, and supporting Clinical Legal Education (CLE) programs that serve the legal needs of marginalised communities.
The work of BABSEACLE focuses on strengthening the rule of law across the region. In collaboration with stakeholders including universities, law students, members of the legal community and corporate partners, it develops and delivers justice education programs that focus on sustainability and community empowerment.
To increase understanding of pro bono work and the need for it across Asia, Herbert Smith Freehills co-founded the Asia Pro Bono Conference with BABSEACLE. Now in its 7th year, the conference has become the main vehicle for collaboration and thought leadership on pro bono in Asia.
Over the course of our partnership with BABSEACLE we have been involved in the following:
- Acting pro bono for BABSEACLE to obtain charitable status.
- Drafting and developing university teaching materials on ethics and professional responsibility, evidence and mock trial procedures, which have been incorporated into the university curricula across South East Asia.
- Providing seed funding and support for the establishment of legal clinics in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Vientiane, Laos.
- Presenting training sessions at workshops and BABSEACLE's annual Access to Justice Week on topics including client-centred lawyering, ethics, professional responsibility and client communication in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.
- Preparing a curriculum and acting as trainers and judges for an annual CLE mock trial initially held across Myanmar universities, and now run as a Regional Mock Trial in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is attended by students and others throughout Asia and aims to provide students with experience in case preparation, advocacy and court procedure, while simultaneously instilling in them greater understanding and appreciation for fair trial and rule of law principles.