Sat, Jan 07, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taipei extends pro bono legal services to 12 district offices

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

While there is no obligation for lawyers in Taiwan to perform pro bono services, a total of 131 lawyers have committed themselves to offering free legal advice to Taipei residents on issues ranging from leasing house to medical and marriage problems.

In an effort to respond to increasing demand for legal consultation, the Taipei City Government announced yesterday that it will expand its pro bono program to offer legal services at no charge at 12 district offices between 9:30am and 11:30am, Monday to Friday.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) thanked the lawyers for their dedication and encouraged the public to take advantage of the service.

"Proactively seeking legal advice can reduce a case's downside potential," he said yesterday.

The Civil Affairs Bureau's Chong Ze-liang (鍾則良) said that since the inception of the service two years ago, it has helped with more than 400 cases a year, achieving a success rate of 60 percent.

Wang Chi-an (王啟安), one of the volunteer lawyers who has been doing pro bono work for the city government, said that most residents seek legal consultation on civil law issues, with automobile accidents, divorce, and credit card debt the top three legal problems being addressed.

While he has not personally provided free legal advice to non Taiwanese citizens, Wang welcomed foreigners to seek pro bono consultations if they had any legal problems.

"Although I've never had any foreigners asking me for advice during my pro bono sessions, most of my paying foreign clients seek help with relationship or money issues," he said.

The city's consultation service currently receives five telephone reservations per day. Those who need legal advice can also go to one of the district offices directly.

For more information, please contact the department at (02) 2720-6813.

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