Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is a national, multiple award-winning organization with chapters in 22 of Canada’s 23 law schools. PBSC matches law students with public interest organizations, government agencies, tribunals, legal clinics, and courts to deliver high-quality legal services. The goal of PBSC is to increase access to justice for underrepresented communities across Canada by offering free legal services in the form of public legal education, client intake and assistance, and legal research and writing.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
Our PBSC projects range from 1 – 20 students per project. Please contact PBSC UCalgary to discuss the number of student volunteers on the project that you are overseeing.
Generally speaking, we ask you to be responsive and to maintain regular contact with your student(s). Specifically, this includes meeting with the student(s) at least once early in each academic term and at the end of the project; holding all meetings in person, except for projects that are being supervised remotely or where it is not possible for any other reason to meet in person, in which case the lawyer supervisor and volunteer(s) should communicate over the phone; to be available periodically during the course of the project as reasonably required to answer questions of a legal nature, to provide guidance relevant to the project, and to review and provide feedback on the work product of the PBSC volunteer(s); and to complete in a timely fashion a final evaluation of the student(s).
Yes. All lawyer supervisors must sign a Lawyer Supervisor Agreement Form which sets out our expectations and confirms that all supervising lawyers registered have the appropriate professional liability insurance that extends to their role as a supervising lawyer.
The PBSC Program Coordinator will contact you by phone once in November and once in February as part of the project monitoring process. In order to make this monitoring process effective, it is vital that the monitoring calls take place within the planned time frame. Accordingly, we ask you to promptly return emails attempting to schedule a monitoring call. These calls typically take less than 10 minutes, and it is vitally important that we know whether things are going smoothly on your project. We also ask that you not wait until the monitoring process and notify your local PBSC Office with any concerns which come to your attention regarding the student or the project.
Every Law Society in Canada has a policy regarding the Continuing Professional Development of lawyers. In some provinces CPD is mandatory and in others it is merely recommended. In some cases supervision of a PBSC placement can counts as CPD. While PBSC makes every effort to keep up with the policies of every Law Society, please refer to your province’s policy to determine whether your work with our organization counts as part of your CPD.
PBSC relies on your feedback to strengthen our program, and report to our funders. In mid March we will send you a satisfaction survey to fill out. Please be sure to take a moment to complete the survey and provide us with your impressions of our program – we welcome both positive feedback and constructive criticism.
No. PBSC students may only provide legal information. PBSC students are not qualified or insured to provide direct legal advice. Law student volunteers do not have professional liability insurance, nor is PBSC or your law school insured to provide direct legal advice. Students are therefore restricted from providing direct legal advice or otherwise holding themselves out as lawyers.
Yes! If your project proposal is approved, PBSC UCalgary will do our best to find a supervising lawyer that can provide expertise on the area of law that the project touches.
No. PBSC student volunteers cannot review, update, or draft policy manuals and/or by-laws for not-for-profit corporations and charities because they would be providing a form of legal advice.
Yes! A number of PBSC placements are short-term projects. Short-term projects are designed to be completed within the program year (October to March). These projects provide organizations with the volunteer resources they require to address a particular issue or create a particular resource.