Vancouver to host first national pro bono week

Mark your fall calendar for September 14-20, 2008: six straight days of providing, promoting and celebrating pro bono legal services in Vancouver and other Canadian cities. The first National Pro Bono Week will be hosted by Pro Bono Law of BC, together with Pro Bono Law Ontario, Pro Bono Law Alberta and newly formed Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan.

“The centrepiece of Pro Bono Week will be the two-day Second National Pro Bono Conference, to be held September 18-19 at Vancouver’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue,” says Jamie Maclaren, Executive Director of Pro Bono Law of BC. “Our theme will be ‘Pro Bono: Spanning the Nation,’ building on the success achieved in November 2006 when the First National Pro Bono Conference — ‘Building Bridges to Justice’ — was held in Toronto. Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin has already confirmed that she’ll deliver the keynote address at the conference and Canadian Pro Bono Awards Dinner on September 18; we’re expecting around 250 people at the dinner and 150 at the conference.”

Pro Bono Week events being planned include:

  • CLE program on skills and resources relevant to pro bono lawyers and poverty law practitioners, put on by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC;
  • open-air and media-friendly pro bono legal advice clinics provided by Western Canada Society to Access Justice, the Salvation Army BC Pro Bono Program and the UBC Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP);
  • a free non-profit law seminar for non-profit organizations of limited means, hosted by Pro Bono Law of BC;
  • a “Pro Bono Speed-Dating Session” designed to foster new pro bono partnerships between BC law firms and BC non-profit organizations; and
  • several recruiting events held at BC’s law schools by LSLAP and Pro Bono Students Canada.

The conference is expected to bring together lawyers, judges, academics and volunteer organizers from across Canada, the United States and abroad.

“We want to combine plenary sessions addressing major issues and themes related to pro bono culture and practice with breakout sessions that take a “nuts and bolts” approach to various aspects of developing pro bono programs and delivering pro bono services,” says Maclaren.

The Law Society was instrumental in the formation of Pro Bono Law of BC in 2002 and continues to provide PBLBC with office space and other in-kind support.

For more information and to register for the Second National Pro Bono Conference and the conference and Canadian Pro Bono Awards Dinner, visit or call Pro Bono Law of BC at 604-893-8932.