“My aim is to strike a balance living life as a lawyer in terms of giving and receiving. Now that is the main purpose of life.”
If it hadn’t been for a pivotal decision one person took, patients and not legal aid seekers would have been recipients of attorney Toar Lewu’s selfless pro bono work. Sometimes, all it takes is a moment to analyze what one truly want in life.
He took a bold step forward and switched majors, opting to study law instead of medicine. It’s a choice that has paid off for clients who didn’t have proper access to justice across Indonesia.
From enrolling at Manado State University’s school of law, to attending the prestigious Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, Lewu gave law school his all. It paid off, as Lewu went on to graduate law school with honors and become a recognized attorney in his East Indonesian community.
The justice-seeking attorney practises law in the areas of real estate litigation and dispute resolution. Lewu takes on many paid cases which help him finance his several pro bono ones. A driving force behind the pro bono work Lewu does is knowing that people living at or below the middle-income range have huge obstacles in front of them when it comes to accessing law. He decided to take matters into his own hands, and set out to serve deserving people in his community by aiding them in their legal battles.
Since taking on pro bono cases in 2017, Lewu has taken on criminal defense cases. He represents defendants who have been wrongly accused of crime, and takes every step possible to exonerate them, or minimize the sentence meted out to them. A year in, Lewu added civil cases with a focus on real estate litigation cases.
The way Lewu works is by offering his pro bono clients a free consultation. He then stands by them during trial, usually at no cost. Lewu even goes one step further for many cases, and pays out of pocket for registration and documentation expenses for real estate cases. In his own words,
Where I live, most people are middle-class. The biggest problem comes from low economy status that leads to the lack of education and knowledge. The status has become a barrier for them to get a proper legal assistance when it comes to a cases, whether criminal or civil.
In 2018, Lewu and a group of his friends founded a non-profit organization to further his pro bono work. His dedication to pro bono encouraged him to start the non-profit which has since benefited deserving clients across Indonesia. To put it in Lewu’s words, it’s serving the big shark cases, yet realizing he needs to protect the clownfish hiding in the reefs seeking security.
I’ll borrow Anton Ego’s term in Ratatouille to describe the chefs at Gusteau’s restaurant. This lawyer experience has somehowo rocked me to my core”.