"By being part of Pro Bono Students Canada, you are part of one of the most visionary undertakings I've seen in 40 years at the bar."
- Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Supreme Court of Canada
Who We Are
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is a national multiple award-winning pro bono organization, with chapters in 21 law schools across the country. Founded in 1996 at the University of Toronto, PBSC is the only national pro bono service organization anywhere in the world. Our mandate is threefold: (1) to provide early, practical learning experience for law students; (2) to provide high-quality legal services for our partners and their clients; and (3) to promote the value of pro bono among the next generation of lawyers.
What We Do
Each year, PBSC places over 170 volunteer law students at the University of Toronto with public interest organizations, legal clinics, and lawyers, working on pro bono files. Students perform a variety of law-related tasks, including legal research, providing legal information to organizations, performing client-intake and in some cases working on files for unrepresented litigants and appearing before courts and tribunals (under significant lawyer supervision).
Across Canada, about 1,600 PBSC volunteers provide approximately 127,000 hours of free legal services to between 400-500 organizations, courts and tribunals across the country. That’s equivalent to 62 people working full-time for a year!
PBSC regularly creates projects in the following areas of the law: aboriginal, administrative, civil, constitutional, corporate non-profit, criminal, environmental, family, human rights, immigration and refugee, union side labour, and all areas of poverty law. We proudly serve diverse populations of Canadians including artists, First Nations, Francophone Canadians, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) Canadians, immigrants and refugees, low-income Canadians, seniors, women, youth and others.
Why Volunteer with PBSC
Wide Range of Options
In addition to the areas mentioned above, the University of Toronto chapter has partnerships with over 50 organizations. Whether you came to law school knowing exactly what area you want to pursue, or are hoping to be exposed to something new, you are sure to find something at PBSC -- just ask any of our volunteers, 95% of whom said that they would recommend PBSC to other law students.
PBSC volunteers have a variety of resources available to them. In addition to general PBSC training that will take place on September 27th and 28th, you will also hone your legal research skills at a training session hosted by Westlaw Canada. Not only does this ensure that students are comfortable accessing the resources available to them, but it complements the Legal Research and Writing course offered to 1Ls.
Personalized Guidance and Practical Experience
Students benefit significantly from the personal nature of our projects. Each placement has lawyer supervision and most of our projects take on between one and four students. This means that our volunteers have the unique experience of working very closely with both the organization and an experienced lawyer on a weekly basis, who are passionate about what they do and strive to ensure that the student has an excellent experience.
Be Part of Something Bigger
As a PBSC volunteer you are placed with one project you pursue throughout the year, which means that you will get to know your organization and supervisor quite well. Despite working on different, individual projects, joining PBSC makes students part of a bigger pro bono movement. Since our inception, PBSC has been reminding students and lawyers of our responsibility to address the access to justice crisis in our communities. Volunteers come out of our program with an understanding of the value of the pro bono culture, with 85% reporting that they plan to provide pro bono services upon graduation. Read more about the impact we have from Nikki Gershbain, the National Director of PBSC, and Dean Iacobucci of the Faculty of Law below:
See our Programs at the University of Toronto page for detailed information about some of the PBSC programs offered at the University of Toronto Chapter.
For More Information
For more information about our mandate, history, and structure, or for information about other PBSC programs across the country, please visit the national website at: www.probonostudents.ca
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Pro Bono Students Canada does not assist individuals seeking legal advice. If you require assistance with a specific legal problem, see the Seeking Legal Advice page for services that may be of assistance.
For all inquiries relating to the Pro Bono Students Canada Chapter at the University of Toronto, please contact:
Tina Saban and Jennifer Duff
U of T Program Coordinators
Pro Bono Students Canada
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter - @PBSCToronto
Facebook – www.facebook.com/PBSCToronto
Principal Funder: The Law Foundation of Ontario
Principal Funder Ontario Family Law Project (FLP): Legal Aid Ontario
Law Firm Partner: McCarthy Tétrault LLP
National Legal Research Partners: Westlaw Canada, La référence