Your fees at work: Support for pro bono

The Law Society regularly highlights services supported by the annual practice fee so that lawyers are aware of services to which they are entitled as well as organizations that benefit from Law Society funding. In this issue, we feature support for pro bono.

In 2006, the Benchers determined that the Law Society would contribute one percent of the annual practice fee to the Law Foundation to provide stable funding for pro bono programs and organizations in British Columbia. In 2011, the Law Society contributed $152,650 to the Law Foundation, up from $137,660 in 2010. Overall, in 2011, the Law Foundation granted $600,727 to organizations that facilitate the delivery of pro bono services including the following:

  • Access Pro Bono Society of BC
  • Salvation Army Pro Bono and Justice Services Program
  • Multiple Sclerosis Society Volunteer Advocacy Program
  • Pro Bono Students Canada (UBC)
  • Pro Bono Students Canada (UVic)

Adding in funds provided to the Law Students Legal Advice Program at UBC and the Law Centre at the University of Victoria, a total of $1.1 million was distributed to pro bono services in 2011.

BC lawyers have a longstanding tradition of providing pro bono services and, according to Access Pro Bono Society of BC, are the most generous in the country with their time. In 2011, Access Pro Bono reported that about 7,400 hours had been contributed by BC lawyers to support ­Access Pro Bono programming.

The Law Foundation reports that 843 lawyers participated in formal pro bono programs in 2011, a further 590 volunteered in clinics and 134 volunteered on roster programs. As a result of these programs, just under 20,000 clients were served.

Even more impressive, as reported via their annual practice declarations to the Law Society, BC lawyers provided about 340,000 hours of pro bono services in 2011, or about 27 hours per lawyer. Certainly, this is something of which the legal community can be very proud.

On behalf of those clients who benefit from the generosity of BC lawyers, the Law Society thanks all those who give their time to assist others.