Who We Are
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is a national, award-winning program that operates in 21 law schools in eight provinces across Canada. Founded in 1996, PBSC law student volunteers provide free legal services to vulnerable, low-income Canadians and non-profit organizations.
“Our Court, the largest and busiest family court in Canada, would literally not be able to function without the PBSC student volunteers.” Justice Harvey Brownstone, Ontario Court of Justice
Each year, PBSC recruits between 1600-1700 law students to work with almost 500 organizations, agencies, clinics, law firms, courts and tribunals. Through these placements, our students contribute a staggering 130,000 hours of free legal services to Canadians and organizations in need. Together they provide legal information, support and services to over 10,000 low-income Canadians.
The Benefits of Law Student Pro Bono
As the access to justice crisis worsens, law student pro bono is a win-win-win for the community, law students and the profession.
- The Community: By drawing on trained law students to relieve volume in courts, clinics and legal centres, PBSC helps the justice sector stretch existing resources and assist greater numbers of people.
“Without PBSC I would have been lost. The forms I needed to fill out overwhelmed me. I didn’t know what information the court needed or how to present my case. I don’t qualify for legal aid based on my income level, but there’s no way I could have afforded a lawyer.” Angel Robinson, Family Law Project Client
- Law Students: Law student pro bono prepares students for legal practice, exposes them to the depth and breadth of the crisis and the need, and creates a generation of lawyers committed to the public good. Last year, 83% of our students said they plan to do pro bono as lawyers.
The best decision I made in law school was to volunteer with PBSC. The program made me a better person, and will no doubt make me a better lawyer. I assisted clients who could not read or write, victims of domestic violence, and people with absolutely no family or community support.” Katerina Svozilkova, PBSC Volunteer
- The Profession: Law student pro bono enhances the public’s experience of the legal system, elevates the reputation of lawyers, and creates a more compassionate legal profession.
“PBSC is one of the most visionary undertakings I have seen in my 40 years at the bar.” Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Supreme Court of Canada
PBSC law students provide a range of services in almost every area of law. Here are just a small handful of the projects we run:
- Family Law Project: Students in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Windsor, Kingston, London, Toronto, Halifax, Moncton and Fredericton help low-income litigants draft court forms and navigate the complex legal system.
- Wills Clinics: Students in Saskatchewan, Toronto, Windsor, Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Halifax draft wills and Powers of Attorney for low-income seniors.
- Civil Litigation Project: Students in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, London, Toronto and Montreal assist low-income litigants in Small Claims Courts and help centres.
- Tax Court of Canada Project: Students in Toronto, Montreal, Sherbrooke and Halifax represent low-income appellants in the Tax Court of Canada.
- Rights Watch Blog: Students from every law school in Canada monitor civil liberties abuses in communities across the country, posting their findings on a blog run in partnership with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
- Non-Profit Corporate Law Projects: Students in Saskatchewan and Toronto assist non-profit organizations that do not have the resources to retain a lawyer with their legal needs in the areas of charity, business, employment and tax law.
PBSC turns away over 700 law students each year for no other reason than a lack of capacity to support more placements. More dollars will allow PBSC to expand our award-winning program, mobilize more law students and help thousands of additional Canadians every year.