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Background and Origin
Background and Origin

We live in a world of potent inequalities. Inequalities of wealth and resources leave many persons unable to afford expensive charges for legal services and with little access to the legal resources needed to protect themselves and those they seek to assist. If legal services are luxuries only enjoyed by a small number of persons, “equal justice under law” may become an empty word.

Recent decades have seen an exponential growth of governmental funding for legal aids in China. Compared with developed countries and regions, however, there is still a large gap of such funding per capita between China and the developed world. In 2011, the per capital legal aid funds in Hong Kong and in the UK are eighty and three hundred ninety times larger than that in the mainland of China, respectively. In China, there are still quite a number of poor people and other vulnerable groups unable to obtain necessary legal services. Protection of their rights to equality and justice, therefore, becomes a severe problem China faces today. In such situation, we, as lawyers, cannot simply sit by and accept or remain in advocacy orally or debate theoretically.

Provision of Pro Bono legal services by lawyers, as an effective way to fill such gap in legal services, has been widely adopted in countries or regions that are mature in legal practices and has become an important support and complement to the governmental legal assistance system. The foundation of Wider Center is the first attempt in this regard in China.