Pro bono progress, clients, and presentations in Fengtai| June 16, 2011
My project's progress: This week I finished researching how different countries record and measure pro bono efforts and the financial support systems in place. I have also just begun compiling and analyzing different countries' firms' pro bono programs. I plan to finish the memo at the end of next week so that the Director can review it and ask for any additional information before the project is due. For this project I have searched through and reviewed the professional rules of conduct, court rules of conduct, government pro bono initiatives, and law society and non-profit programs. It's been interesting, as pro bono is voluntary in every country, but in some countries the policy for pro bono is found within rules of conduct which are otherwise mandatory. At the end of the month I will present my findings to the Director, and possibly the entire center.
Clients: This week I was able to sit in on client interviews for the first time. I took notes at one interview with a migrant worker who had been injured at his job and one interview for a child in need of child support. For confidentiality reasons I cannot divulge the details. However, many cases Zhicheng Public Interest Group takes on behalf of children involve child support claims against a father who is not a registered resident of the area where he and the child live. Every province has its own household registration system. When the registration system was first developed, moving from a province required a permit and was incredibly dificult. Now, movement is easier but registering with a new province is still very difficult. A person can move without changing their registration, but many higher paying jobs and many social benefits (health care, insurance, etc) require people be locally registered. This registration system also complicates bringing child support cases.
I truly enjoy interacting with the clients. I've noticed that when a client shares their problem with a lawyer, they're entire demeanor brightens a little. Especially the children.
Presentations: This Friday I attended two firm presentations. One presentation was on corporate social responsibility and the other was on an advice website the center has created. The presentaton on corporate social responsibility discussed UN and government efforts to regulate corporations, corporate self-regulations, deceptive trade cases, and consumer campaigns. The presenters argue that the legal reprocussions are less effective than consumer driven campaigns. The presenters believed that corporate self-regulation would only be widely implemented if consumers gave corporations an economic incentive to follow their own rules. As for the presentation on the website, the project manager of the website was informing the center on his completion of an internet advice hotline. Basically, potential clients can post questions on the site, and lawyers will answer the question online, give them a phone call and answer it, or meet with them to work on the case--depending on what each problem requires. The Director then questioned whether there was a search function for the lawyers to use in finding and sorting questions. This has not yet been developed and is the project manager's new task.
Week three is over. I'll update again next week. Zai jian.