Pro Bono Students Canada was established in the fall of 1996 at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. At the time, it was the first and only pro bono organization in Canada. The visionary support of two key players—founding Dean Ronald Daniels and the Law Foundation of Ontario—was instrumental in launching the organization. Through the creation of PBSC, Dean Daniels aimed to combine education and public interest volunteer work, with the goal of ensuring that each new generation of lawyers would enter the profession already committed to pro bono philosophy and practice.
The initiative was a resounding success, and the University of Toronto set out to expand this innovative program across Ontario and throughout the country. Today, there are 21 PBSC chapters—one at almost every law school in Canada. Every year, over 1600 law student volunteers—a quarter of all law students in the country—provide approximately 130,000 hours of free legal services to 400-500 public interest groups, community organizations, courts and tribunals across the country. PBSC is firmly integrated into the fabric of legal education in Canada, providing thousands of future lawyers with their first taste of legal work through an exciting and diverse range of co-curricular opportunities.