There are a number of ways to get involved, including opportunities for private practitioners, in-house counsel, public sector lawyers, students-at-law, law students and retired lawyers. Click here to learn about our volunteer opportunities.
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PBLS works in a number of ways to support lawyers providing pro bono legal services:
Organized pro bono programs that match your available time commitment and area(s) of expertise are available to volunteers. To get involved, complete the lawyer profile form, indicating which volunteer opportunities you are interested in and send it to the Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan office.
Are you an inactive, retired or otherwise insurance exempt member? Click here to learn about insurance coverage and the law Society of Saskatchewan Pro Bono Membership.
Here are the volunteer opportunities we are currently offering:
Volunteers with the Clinic Program are asked to attend regularly, usually bi-monthly (six times a year), at a free legal clinic to meet with low-income clients and provide advice and assisted self-representation in an area of law with which you are familiar. You will provide summary legal advice at the clinic and are not obligated to represent anyone you see at the clinic. You are encouraged to take on full-representation pro bono files at your option, but generally refer clients in appropriate cases to the Panel Program for more in-depth assistance. Clients that attend at the clinic are pre-screened for income and conflicts in advance of each scheduled clinic.
Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan currently operates free legal clinics in the following locations: Regina, Swift Current, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Estevan, Weyburn, Yorkton, North Battelford, Meadow Lake, and La Ronge. There is also a clinic in Saskatoon operated by CLASSIC (Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City.)
Volunteers with the Panel Program will receive pre-screened referrals, generally one to five per year, depending on the type and complexity of the referral, which you may accept or decline. Referrals are made based on your expressed interest and area of practice. A conflict check is performed prior to a referral being accepted. Clients are referred to the Panel Program by clinic lawyers or Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan staff who have met with or reviewed the client’s particular legal situation, and determined that more in-depth assistance is required.
There is also the opportunity to volunteer with a specialized Panel Program. These programs are developed for particular sectors or court processes. Volunteering with these often requires additional training or expertise, and lawyers are asked to consider whether a Specialized Panel is an area of particular interest:
Volunteers provide legal services to individuals who have criminal matters before the Court of Appeal and who are ineligible for Legal Aid and have been denied court appointed counsel.
Individuals involved in the immigration & refugee process who are low-income are eligible to apply to this program.
Seniors (65+) who require legal assistance and are receiving the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement are eligible to apply to this program.
Articling students (supervised by their principals) advise and assist low-income individuals with residential tenancies matters.
Volunteers with the Solicitor Program will be matched with a charitable, non-profit or community organization of limited means.
Volunteers with the Mentor Program agree to make themselves available as a mentor to lawyers that are providing direct pro bono legal services.
Volunteers with a Support Program do not provide direct legal services but engage in support services for lawyers who are providing direct legal services. This can include precedent preparation, clinic coordination, developing resources for pro bono lawyers, continuing legal education with respect to pro bono legal services and a variety of other contributions, including assisting PBLS directly.
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is a national movement of law students committed to public interest legal work. Through PBSC, law students enhance access to justice by providing free legal information and assistance to non-profit organizations and lawyers working on a pro bono basis. Through a PBSC placement, volunteering entails supervising a project for an organization, assisting law student volunteers with developing a research plan at the outset of the project, providing guidance to students as needed over the duration of the placement and reviewing the work of the student volunteer prior to submission to the organization to ensure completeness, accuracy and provide suggestions for improvement.
The total time commitment required of a lawyer volunteer through PBSC is generally minimal. Most placements require only 5 to 10 hours for the entire course (spanning an academic year). Further, volunteering with PBSC in Saskatchewan provides an opportunity to demonstrate to students, other lawyers and the local community the importance of volunteer work and the need for a strong commitment to a pro bono ethic within the legal profession. If you wish to volunteer with please contact them directly.
PBLS welcomes all individuals involved in the legal profession to advance access to justice and increase the capacity of the legal profession to engage in organized pro bono programs. If you are a paralegal or legal assistant and wish to volunteer, please contact PBLS directly.
It is never too early to begin developing a commitment to pro bono work or the important skills you will require as a lawyer. From legal research to appearing in court, the skills you can develop through a pro bono volunteer opportunity are many. Volunteering with CLASSIC or Pro Bono Students Canada at the College of Law can be one of the most important and memorable experiences you will have at law school.
In addition, as the future of the legal profession, it is important that law students actively assess the varying commitment of Saskatchewan law firms to providing pro bono legal services. Many law firms have signed a Pro Bono Pledge and have adopted pro bono policies.
Encourage your employer or law firm to get involved in improving access to justice to Saskatchewan by signing the pro bono pledge. The pledge is a voluntary pro bono standard where places of business allow use of firm resources for pro bono files and recognize the worth of pro bono work by allowing for billable hour recognition of a lawyer’s first fifty hours of pro bono service annually.
Macpherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP
McDougall Gauley LLP
Allan C. Hjette Law Office
Elke Churchman Law Office P.C. Inc.
Miller Thomson LLP
Jaggi Law Office
Chowdhury Law Office
Kowalchuk Law Office
The CBA Disbursement Fund is available to members of the Law Society of Saskatchewan who are performing pro bono work through PBLS programs, not including the Solicitor Program. Pro Bono cases through the Clinic Program or Panel Program involving poverty law issues qualify for disbursement coverage to the limit of available funds.
Lawyers who provide pro bono litigation services to low-income individuals through PBLS approved programs, may bill PBLS for the cost of necessary and reasonable disbursements incurred up to $1,000 (or beyond in special circumstances). PBLS’s disbursement coverage is made possible by a grant from the Saskatchewan Branch of the Canadian Bar Association. The fund is supported by generous donations from Queen’s Counsel appointees and Past President’s of the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
If you are a volunteer and would like to apply to the CBA Disbursement Fund,
Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan recognizes the important work Saskatchewan lawyers are doing pro bono. Spotlight features profile the extraordinary pro bono work of lawyers in Saskatchewan. To suggest a lawyer to be featured please contact us.
Volunteer Spotlight - Janice Gingell
Congratulations to Janice Gingell who was recognized at the 6th Annual Gown to Gown Lawyers’ Charity Gala held in Saskatoon earlier this year. Janice was presented with the Pro Bono Service Award, an award presented annually by the Law Society of Saskatchewan and Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan to recognize outstanding pro bono service.
Janice has a remarkable professional history which includes practising with Legal Aid in Saskatoon and LaRonge, practising with Hnatyshyn Singer, Donlevy & Company, and McKercher LLP in Saskatoon, and acting as Senior Staff Solicitor for the Human Rights Commission. Janice also has a long history of community involvement and volunteerism. For the last number of years, Janice has volunteered with CLASSIC in Saskatoon. She volunteers with the organization at least 20 hours per week, acting as a mentor lawyer to both staff and students, supervising client files and providing experiential learning oversight to students. She also assists with the planning of events and policy development. Janice’s obvious commitment to CLASSIC is a wonderful testament to the work that CLASSIC does in Saskatoon and to the extraordinary community of staff, students, and volunteers at the organization.
Thank you Janice for being such a great example to the Legal Profession!