Projects and Partnerships
Pro Bono Law Alberta works to promote access to justice by:
• Creating pro bono opportunities for Alberta lawyers
• Working with law firms to develop pro bono policies and projects
• Leveraging pro bono resources in the community
• Enhancing the growth of a pro bono culture in the legal profession
PBLA does this through partnerships, collaborative projects, and events that involve the legal community and the authorized pro bono clinics throughout the province. PBLA is involved in several innovative partnerships and projects with law firms, not-for-profit organizations and pro bono and legal organizations that further increase volunteer lawyer engagement in pro bono service delivery. Examples include:
Legal Clinic at Wellspring Calgary with Walsh LLP
Volunteer lawyers from Walsh LLP provide free summary legal advice to clients of Wellspring Calgary who are living with cancer. Volunteer lawyers support cancer patients with issues related to Long Term Disability (LTD) or employment issues through the delivery of a monthly legal advice clinic and legal information sessions. The clinics are delivered as an extension of Wellspring Calgary’s Money Matters program.
Legal Clinic at Brenda Strafford Centre with Foster LLP
Brenda Strafford Centre is a safe place for for women and children who have been impacted by domestic violence. The legal clinic at Brenda Strafford Centre engages pro bono lawyers from Foster LLP in providing legal services through legal clinics and public legal education sessions. This type of partnership is important to the future of pro bono, as it helps to achieve access to justice for vulnerable individuals who are in extreme need and not able to seek out other sources of assistance due to the sensitive nature of their particular circumstances.
Legal Clinic at Discovery House with WK Family Law Lawyers
Discovery House began its journey with Pro Bono Law Alberta and Widdowson Kachur Ostwald Menzies LLP (WK Family Lawyers and Mediators) on November 19, 2013. Since that time Discovery House clientele have reaped the rewards of having free half hour sessions on a monthly basis which has given them tremendous family law support and peace of mind. Ongoing feedback from the clientele has been positive with comments such as, “I have a clear understanding of the direction I need to take”, “I felt supported and the lawyer really cared about my situation” and “This is a very good service, please don’t take it away”.
Also through this partnership, law students from the University of Calgary provided four education sessions to clients and staff on topics such as Immigration Law and “Frequent Questions often asked by our Clientele”. Lawyers were present in all the sessions to assist the students and give direction when necessary.
Immigration and Family Law Clinic with Calgary Legal Guidance, Family Law Office, Gowlings and Centre for Newcomers
This is a joint project between PBLA, Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG) and the Centre for Newcomers (CFN). Lawyers from Gowlings and the Family Law Office volunteer at evening clinics that are held the second Wednesday of each month. CLG provides training and organizes the immigration lawyer volunteers, a representative from Gowlings organizes its volunteers and the Centre for Newcomers organizes all of the logistics – ensuring volunteers have all of the necessary forms, paperwork, computer access and translation services as necessary. Many of the volunteers for the Immigration Project say that their two hours a month at the clinic is some of the most fulfilling work they do. Volunteer lawyers have the opportunity to assist people in difficult and stressful situations and this experience provides a valuable and rewarding reality check for them.
PBLA has also been involved in brokering and supporting the following law firm partnerships:
- Alcove Legal Clinic with a group of lawyers practicing in association with Campbell O’Hara (2010)
- Pathways to Pro Bono Project with Field Law and Boyle McCauley Heath Centre (2010)
- Alex Pathways to Housing Project, in partnership with DLA Piper (Canada) LLP – formerly Davis LLP (2009)
- Women’s Centre Legal Advice Clinic with Association of Women Lawyers (2008)
- Child Advocacy Pro Bono Project with Borden Ladner Gervais and Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre (2007)