The Family Justice Centre
In 2020, PBSC launched the Family Justice Centre (FJC), a first-of-its-kind initiative aiming to address the longstanding gaps in Ontario's family justice system. The FJC's launch was made possible by the generous funding provided by our Program Partner, Legal Aid Ontario, and our Founding Partner, Epstein Cole LLP. The FJC hosts virtual legal clinics for Ontarians dealing with family law issues who are unable to afford a lawyer, but do not meet the threshold to qualify for legal aid services. At the virtual clinics, family law lawyers supervise law students in the delivery of free unbundled legal services to self-represented litigants in Ontario. The FJC also develops public legal education resources to support self-represented litigants in navigating the family law process.
To find out if the FJC can help you, please call during one of the times listed below. You will speak with a law student who will ask you questions about your situation to determine whether the FJC can assist you. If the FJC can help, you will be scheduled to meet with a lawyer during one of our clinics.
Please note that law students are not permitted to provide legal advice.
If you are not able to call during one of the times below, you can leave a voicemail and a law student will call you back.
Please note intake and clinics are only available to residents of Ontario at this time.
Thursday September 9th, 16th - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Monday, September 13th, 20th - 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Monday, September 27th - 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
From October 1st to, and including, December 3rd:
Mondays - 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
With the exception of October 11th (Thanksgiving Monday)
Wednesdays - 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. With the exception of 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on November 3
Thursdays - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
With the exception of October 7 and November 18
PLEASE NOTE: Appointments are required for the clinics and can be scheduled through the intake process.
The Family Justice Centre Clinics are fully booked until January 2022. If you would like to determine if you are eligible for FJC services in 2022, please contact us during one of our intake sessions.
Winter 2022 Clinic dates coming soon.
DISCLAIMER: Please note these videos contain general legal information and NOT legal advice. Law students are not permitted to provide legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer for legal advice regarding your matter.
A CLIENT'S JOURNEY
NOTE: Blue boxes indicate work happening outside of clinic hours!
Final forms are emailed to client with resource explaining how to sign, serve, and file the documents
Lawyer, student, and client meet to review final forms
Student sends forms to lawyer for review & approval. May involve:
The exchange of drafts between lawyer and student until forms complete
Student drafts court forms. May involve student:
Speaking again to client to get further information
Speaking with PBSC Program Manager for guidance
Client has family law issue but cannot afford to hire a lawyer
Client contacts the FJC to complete an intake
Law student conducts intake to determine financial eligibility, gather basic information about client, situation
Student provides referrals to client because client ineligible
Client meets with lawyer (student present also)
Lawyer provides summary advice
Lawyer provides summary advice & suggests client proceed with court documents
Client drafts using CLEO's guided pathways
'UNBUNDLED LEGAL SERVICES'?
Also known as ‘limited scope representation’, the ‘unbundling’ of legal services allows lawyers to assist with a specific part of a client’s legal case. Unbundling gives clients and lawyers the freedom to decide which tasks may be performed by the client themselves, and which should be performed by the lawyer, offering a more accessible pathway to justice. The FJC will only be providing unbundled legal services in the form of summary advice and, when appropriate, assistance with document drafting.
PUBLIC LEGAL EDUCATION
Short videos, flowcharts, pamphlets, and other interactive resources to assist self-represented litigants in navigating the family law system.
SUMMARY LEGAL ADVICE
There can be many paths to a resolution. Get a lawyer's opinion on your case before determining how to proceed.
DRAFTING COURT FORMS
With the assistance of law students, filling in court forms is a less daunting task.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
I am very pleased that the FJC has so quickly become a reality, bringing together public-minded lawyers, students and technology to address access to justice challenges facing family law clients.
— Philip M. Epstein, O.Ont., O.Can, Q.C., LSM, LL.D
LEGAL AID ONTARIO
Request a lawyer referral online and receive a free consultation of up to 30 minutes to help determine your rights and options.
Contact to request free unbundled legal services for your family law matter.
Contact a student legal aid clinic to seek assistance with your family law matter.
Find step-by-step information about your family law matter.
Find a lawyer who charges reduced rates for qualifying clients seeking family law services.
Resource for women/children seeking safety from violence/abuse.
Free legal services for women who have experienced violence or abuse in the areas of immigration and family law.
Free family law advice, information and support for women who have experienced violence, including virtual appointments with family law lawyers.
COVID-19 has amplified inequities in access to the family justice system, resulting in backlogs caused by court closures and the inability of people to pay for legal services due to job and/or income loss. Though we recognize the barriers presented by running virtual-only clinics to those without access to technology, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is anticipated that all FJC work will be conducted virtually until mid-2021.
It is our hope that by providing virtual clinic services, we will be able to reach clients throughout Ontario, including in remote areas where access to service has historically been limited. Whenever possible, we will endeavour to support clients in accessing technology by providing referrals and instruction, and also by communicating through telephone instead of videoconferencing.