Pro Bono Law of BC ... building partnerships
If you can donate any of your time and expertise to the people who need it most, Pro Bono Law of BC is ready to show you how. Whether you foresee making an ongoing commitment to pro bono work or would like to offer services on occasion, here are some ways to take up the challenge.
Watch the probononet.bc.ca website
The probononet.bc.ca website, maintained by Pro Bono Law of BC, provides full details and contact information for ongoing pro bono legal programs and new requests from community organizations for pro bono assistance.
Consider these pro bono programs
With the need for pro bono legal services on the rise, structured pro bono programs have emerged. BC lawyers in private practice who deliver pro bono legal services to individuals or community organizations already enjoy coverage for their pro bono activities under the BC Lawyers' Compulsory Professional Liability Insurance Policy, just as they do when representing paying clients.
Crown Counsel and lawyers who practise as in-house counsel, as well as non-practising and retired members, will be pleased to know that the Law Society has extended coverage under the policy to them, free of charge, for certain pro bono services they provide through "approved" programs. Approval is reserved for those programs that meet and maintain certain best practice protocols. The Law Society extended insurance coverage in this way to encourage pro bono across the profession.
The first programs to receive such approval are:
Salvation Army BC Pro Bono Program
This program offers free summary advice to clients in criminal, family, immigration, labour and civil law, including residential tenancy disputes and small claims and bankruptcy proceedings. Contact John Pavey, Central Coordinator at 604 299-3908 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For experienced appellate counsel who are interested in offering pro bono on criminal, civil and family appeals to the BC Court of Appeal, the Salvation Army Pro Bono Program also administers a Court of Appeal Pro Bono Program that serves unrepresented litigants who have brought appeals. A roster of senior counsel is maintained by Richard Peck, QC (criminal), Geoff Cowper, QC (civil) and Georgialee Lang (family). For more information, please contact any of these lawyers or John Pavey.
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, BC Division, Volunteer Legal Advocacy Program
This program meets the advocacy needs of its members in the areas of human rights, employment equity, insurance, income security, estate planning and family law through the pro bono work of lawyers. Contact Adrianne Boothroyd, Coordinator, Volunteer Legal Advocacy Program at 604 689-3144 or email@example.com.
South Fraser Women's Services Society, Legal Information and Advocacy Program
This program provides free legal information and representation to women on family law issues, such as divorce, separation, child custody and access, child support, spousal maintenance, peace bonds and restraining orders. Contact Ram Sidhu, Legal Advocate at 604 536-9611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Canada Society to Access to Justice (WCSAJ)
This society provides a professional setting in which volunteer lawyers devote two to four hours of time each month to help those who cannot obtain legal help elsewhere. The Society works with various social and charitable agencies to arrange and administer half-hour legal appointments in criminal, family and other areas of law. Volunteer lawyers provide summary advice and help clients prepare to represent themselves in court. Contact the Society by e-mail at email@example.com.
Sign on for upcoming programs
Poverty Law Training Project
Through a grant from the Law Foundation of BC, Pro Bono Law of BC plans to develop training resources to support the private bar in providing pro bono poverty law services. Two pilot projects - inside and outside the Lower Mainland - are slated for early 2004. If you are interested in volunteering to take training through these pilots, please contact consultant Anne Beveridge at 604 521-8403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supreme Court Pro Bono Civil Duty Counsel Program
Pro Bono Law of BC, in consultation with Chief Justice Brenner, is helping to coordinate a new approach to assist unrepresented litigants in BC Supreme Court by early 2004. The first organizational meeting has been held with representatives of the Supreme Court of BC, Court Services Branch, Legal Services Society, Pro Bono Students of Canada, Salvation Army Pro Bono Delivery Program and Western Canada Society to Access Justice. If you are interested in pro bono civil work at the BC Supreme Court, contact Executive Director of Pro Bono Law of BC, Pat Pitsula, at 604 893-8932 or email@example.com.
Pro Bono Law of BC is also working with the Ministry of Attorney General to explore the development of a pro bono policy for in-house counsel and, with the Legal Services Society, to create a pro bono disbursement fund. While the Law Foundation of BC and the Law Society have been pivotal in funding the launch of Pro Bono Law of BC, the board intends to diversify its sources of funding through new fund-raising projects and charitable donations.
Pro Bono Law of BC update
Pro Bono Law of BC is a non- profit society that strives to encourage a pro bono commitment by lawyers and firms in the province.
A joint initiative of the Law Society of BC and the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, the Society is primarily funded by the Law Foundation of BC and the Law Society.
Pro Bono Law of BC directors recently adopted a strategic plan, welcomed the Society's first Executive Director, Pat Pitsula, and Coordinator Carol Jones, both working part-time through offices in the Law Society building. Ms. Pitsula works on Tuesday and Wednesday and Ms. Jones on Tuesday through Thursday. They welcome your calls at 604 893-8932.