Students

Gain practical experience and introduce yourself to a nation-wide legal community.

What We Do

PBSC selects student volunteers in their 1st, 2nd and 3rd years of law school in the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary. Participating students can gain practical experience while working with national and local organizations involved in public interest legal work.

In addition to arranging placements for interested students, PBSC promotes a pro bono ethic on campus by inviting guest lecturers to speak on non-traditional public interest legal careers, encouraging community involvement through public advocacy, offering public legal education, and urging social and professional responsibility.

In today’s competitive employment market, participating in PBSC gives law students an edge. Not only will volunteering for PBSC make your resume stand out, more importantly, you are contributing to the Calgary community by assisting marginalized individuals and non-profit organizations.

Train Future Lawyers

Develop practical legal skills and supervised learning opportunities while working with community organizations and a national law firm.

Access to Justice

Apply what you learn in the classroom to assist low-income individuals and non-profit organizations in our community.

Network

Network with members of the public legal interest sector in Calgary including lawyers, judges, government agencies, and tribunals.

Explore

Explore a variety of career options and increase your knowledge surrounding the access to justice crisis in our community.

Why Volunteer?

  • PBSC has projects covering many areas of law including civil, family, criminal, human rights, immigration, indigenous, administrative, and youth law.

  • PBSC projects provide students with opportunities to network with professionals in the legal and public interest communities, including: lawyers, judges, national law firms, and public interest organizations.

  • PBSC projects vary in the necessary time commitment. A minimum of 1-3 hours/week and a maximum of 5 hours/week is expected of student volunteers.

  • PBSC projects are easily manageable alongside academic demands.

  • PBSC volunteers are provided with free legal research training by WestLaw.

Requirements

A student is required to volunteer between 3-5 hours a week on their project during the academic year. Projects usually last from late September to March (with a break in December for exams).

Once a match is made, students are required to attend three training sessions at the beginning of the academic year and sign an agreement form committing to act professionally, ethically, and maintain accountability for project work.

During the school year, students will be required to meet regularly with their project leaders and partner organizations. Student volunteers will be asked to fill out evaluation forms periodically during the year to see how placements are going and what support the PBSC office can provide.

A student who is unable to meet a deadline or attend a scheduled meeting must clearly inform the affected organization so that alternative arrangements can be made.

Beyond that, students can expect to have fun and learn practical skills that will help them in their careers as lawyers.

Online applications are open annually from the beginning of September until mid September. Complete our short online application here to indicate the top 3 projects that you are interested and why you would be a great fit for those projects.

Yes! All our PBSC projects are open to 1L students with the exception of the Queen’s Bench Amicus Project.

Each year we have approximately 120-130 spaces available for student volunteers.

Students are expected to volunteer 3-5 hours per week on their project. Some projects offer more flexible schedules allowing students to manage their time accordingly, however other projects offer scheduled shifts and require students to volunteer at a specific time weekly or bi-weekly. Overall, PBSC projects are easily manageable alongside academic demands.

We ask that students apply to work on 1 project for the fall semester. If you have available time in your schedule during the winter semester, please email us (probonos@ucalgary.ca) in January and we will check if there is a project that requires additional volunteers.

No. PBSC UCalgary does not accept new volunteers during the winter semester as all of our mandatory training sessions are only offered in September and October each year. If you are interested in volunteering, please apply through our annual online application released in early September.

After a student has been notified of their placement, there are 3 mandatory training sessions that they must attend in September and October:

  • PBSC Process Overview

  • PBSC Ethics and Professional Responsibility Training

  • Westlaw Research Strategies Training

Current Projects

Indigenous Legal Education Project

With assistance from Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG), students will participate in the creation of public legal education materials focused on areas of law most often affecting Indigenous populations. Students will research common legal issues and create three public legal education resources and one public legal education workshop to assist CLG’s Indigenous Outreach Program. These materials will be provided to Indigenous clients obtaining assistance from Calgary Legal Guidance. Research topics will include: Indian Day Schools Class Action; Wills (Urban and On-Reserve); Voting Off-Reserve; and Applying for a Pardon.

Emergency Protection Orders Project

Students support Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) Duty Counsel lawyers by conducting intake and assisting applicants as they prepare and process Emergency Protection Orders (EPO). EPOs are available when violence or threatening behaviour occurs between family members and there is a need for immediate protection. Students will be the first point of contact in the EPO process. Students will listen to the client’s story and assist them in filling out the necessary paperwork. Students also have the opportunity to sit with Duty Counsel and observe the lawyer speak with the client and/or accompany Duty Counsel to court to observe them present the applications. Students will be required to take on a 3-hour shift twice per month at the Calgary Court Centre.

Youth Law Project

Youth Law at The Alex offers legal advice, information, representation, referrals, and services to children and youth aged 19 and under. Student volunteers on this project will have an opportunity to participate in legal research related to youth law, public legal information workshops in Calgary schools on the topic of youth legal rights and responsibilities, and client intake and observation sessions at the Louise Dean School.

Family Law Duty Counsel Project

Students assist Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) Duty Counsel at the Court of Queen’s Bench with self-represented family law litigants. Students assist by conducting client intakes, performing triage, and explaining basic court procedure in a concise and effective manner. Following intake, students are able to accompany Duty Counsel to court and observe the lawyer while matters are being heard in morning chambers.

Get Involved with Us

Join 120+ student volunteers to gain legal experience and increase access to justice in our community