Jamiyah's free legal clinic to go online

Jamiyah's free legal clinic to go online
Among those involved in the online free legal clinic iCounsel are (from top, anti-clockwise) volunteer lawyers Yahya Syed, Mak Kok Weng and Pratap Kishan, with Jamiyah vice-presidents Isa Hassan, Mohamed Yunos and H.M. Saleem.

SINGAPORE - Next month, welfare organisation Jamiyah Singapore is taking its 37-year-old free legal clinic online to reach out to more people and volunteer lawyers.

Called iCounsel, the virtual clinic will use webcams to allow lawyers - at home or in the office - to dispense advice to clients, who can access the service at certain centres.

Dr H.M. Saleem, one of Jamiyah's three vice-presidents, said he believes the online service could be a first in Singapore.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said iCounsel, which is open to everyone, will help meet the "perceptible increase" in demand for Jamiyah's free legal counselling.

He declined to reveal figures.

He said: "It can help us reach out to clients who live far away from us, and encourage lawyers, some of whom want to volunteer but can't because they lack the time to travel, to offer their services on a convenient platform."

Currently, both lawyers and clients need to go to Jamiyah's headquarters in Geylang, where the hour-long free clinic is held twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

One to two lawyers on duty see up to 10 clients at each session.

Clients who call in to register sometimes have to wait for a later date if the session is full.

When the iCounsel portal is launched, applicants can register for legal advice online and provide details of the case and their preferences - such as a Malay- or Mandarin- speaking lawyer, or one conversant with syariah law.

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