At the press conference held by The Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department as part of its participation in the Dubai International Government Achievements Exhibition, the Department announced the launch of the Smart Platform for Pro Bono Legal Services, which is  accessible by more than 3000 advocates and legal consultants registered with the Department in the Emirate of Dubai. The Platform is part of the Department's endeavours to promote voluntary work by advocates and legal consultants in the Emirate, to members of the public.

The initiative, the first of its kind in terms of the manner pro bono legal services are provided, is inspired by the directives of the visionary leadership of the UAE, led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Pro Bono legal work aims to foster a culture of charity and giving throughout the UAE and is particularly fitting as  2018 was declared "the Year of Zayed" to commemorate the Founding Father, who established supreme values of charity and giving to all people.

Speaking at the press conference attended by media, His Excellency Dr. Lowai Mohamed Belhoul, Director General of The Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department, stated: "Our launch of the Pro Bono Legal Services Smart Platform is part of an overall strategy adopted by the Department. This initiative establishes a permanent channel of communication between law firms and members of the public, in particular for individuals who cannot afford to pay for legal services."

His Excellency added, "we are committed to providing a clear mechanism for obtaining legal advice in an innovative manner and providing members of the public with access to a large database of  pro bono legal services provided by law firms with experience in various legal disciplines".

In addition, His Excellency added that "The Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department assumes its responsibilities towards the public by contributing to the achievement of the goals set out in the Dubai Plan 2021, which aims to make Dubai a city of happy, creative and empowered people living in an inclusive and cohesive society. This is in line with directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Dr. Belhoul, the Director General of the Department, gave further details about the Smart Platform, noting that the Smart Platform for Pro Bono Legal Services enables advocacy and  legal consultancy firms to participate  by registering their data, legal disciplines and time slots during which they are willing to provide pro bono legal services to the public.   

Dr. Belhoul further explained that to utilise the Platform, members of the public must log on to the Platform, choose their preferred language and communication method, and determine the legal discipline in respect of which they seek legal advice. Based on this information, the Platform will display a list of advocacy and legal consultancy firms and the time slots available for providing legal services. The member of the public can then select a suitable 15 minute time slot.   

The Department, added Dr. Belhoul, had surveyed advocacy and legal consultancy firms in the Emirate of Dubai regarding the initiative and held consultative meetings with them, which showed that 80% of  firms expressed their support for the initiative. Workshops have also been held to explain the operational elements of the Smart portal to firms.