Pro Bono Students Canada

Pamela Kovacs – Former Coordinator

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PBSC alumnus Pamela Kovacs

Southeast of Regina, in rural Saskatchewan, is the municipality of Lajord and its population of less than 100. It’s a community in the truest sense, with tight-knit neighbours and no shortage of helping hands. Lajord is also where Pamela Kovacs, a PBSC alumnus, grew up. Though she eventually left for Regina—and has since found herself travelling extensively in South America — Pamela has never stopped helping others. When she started her first year at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 2002, Pamela joined the ranks of thousands of other 1L students across Canada by volunteering through PBSC for the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan. “It was an excellent experience both in terms of learning and helping out an important charitable organization,” says Pamela.
 
The placement was so inspiring that she applied to work for PBSC, and from 2003-2005 was co-director of her school’s PBSC chapter. Pamela and her co-directors launched a range of new projects over those years, such as developing a legal show for community radio, supporting a northern fly-in court circuit, and assisting court-workers and community organizations across the province. She also helped coordinate the Saskatoon Free Legal Clinic. “PBSC opened many doors for me,” says Pamela. “It also made me feel like I was making a tangible difference with my legal degree. It is an important program that I believe can be a benefit to all law students.”

“My time at PBSC shaped my practice as a young lawyer. I’m personally committed to pro bono work. Imagine what we could accomplish if every lawyer in Canada was also committed.”

Pamela was called to the Bar in 2006, and took a position with McKercher McKercher & Whitmore LLP in Regina following her articles. Despite the long hours and heavy workloads faced by all new associates, Pamela found time to help establish the Regina Free Legal Clinic, devoting her evenings and weekends to recruiting volunteer lawyers, establishing the clinic’s policy and organization, and administering the clinic. The model she developed was a huge success, and Pamela adopted it for the creation of a similar clinic in Prince Albert. “My time at PBSC shaped my practice as a young lawyer,” she says. “I continued to actively engage in pro bono work and volunteer with PBSC.”
 
After three years of dividing her efforts between billable hours and volunteer work, Pamela left McKercher to become the first executive director of Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (PBLS). The non-profit organization was founded in 2008 to increase access to justice in Saskatchewan by creating, promoting and facilitating pro bono opportunities for lawyers to provide services to low-income clients.
 
In early 2010, after establishing PBLS’ influential role in the legal community in Saskatchewan, Pamela left the organization. But she hasn’t stopped helping those in need, and is currently travelling and doing some occasional volunteer work in South America. So far, most of her volunteer efforts have involved working on projects to create opportunities for underprivileged children. She plans to continue her travels and volunteer work in Africa this fall. “In a perfect world, pro bono work would not be necessary,” she says. “However, while we continue to live in an imperfect world, lawyers are able to directly connect with clients and assist them. It is often the most rewarding part of being a lawyer as it represents the heart of the profession. I’m personally committed to pro bono work. Imagine what we could accomplish if every lawyer in Canada was also committed.”