Law students at both the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta gain valuable legal experience and assist people in need through a variety of new and returning projects. Whether students are interested in meeting one-on-one with clients, conducting legal research, or providing public legal education, the chapters’ strong connection to key partners in Alberta means that opportunities abound.
PBSC chapters in Alberta are proud of their long-standing relationships with Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA) and Legal Aid Alberta, both important partners in key civil litigation projects. At both the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, students can volunteer with the Civil Claims Duty Counsel (CCDC) and Court of Queen’s Bench Amicus (QBA) projects, both run with PBLA. Through CCDC, student provide self-represented litigants with summary legal assistance at Provincial Court, while in QBA, they assist self-reps with their civil claims at Queen’s Bench Masters and Justice Chambers.
Students at U of C interested in family law also have their choice of exciting projects. They can work alongside Legal Aid Alberta duty counsel to conduct intake and assist unrepresented family law litigants at Queen’s Bench Court. Students can also help duty counsel prepare and process Emergency Protection Orders through the EPO Project, supporting survivors of domestic violence. Partnerships with vital organizations such as Calgary Legal Guidance, the Children’s Legal and Education Resource Centre/The Alex, and The Discovery House enable students to develop advocacy skills while directly impacting individuals in need of support.
Research and Public Legal Education
Public legal education and legal research is another major focus of both Alberta chapters. PBSC U of A is excited to once again partner with the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) to have students conduct research and write articles for the LawNow blog, a free bi-monthly digital magazine that examines how the law relates to everyday life. Students are trained to conduct legal research and write for non-legally trained audiences, and in the past have written on topics such as access to justice, environmental law, and corporate law. U of A students will also have the opportunity to conduct legal research with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC) for several exciting research projects. This year, student volunteers will be drafting legal memoranda on a variety of topics, including family and Indigenous law.
In Calgary, law students can deliver public legal education in local schools. In the Consent Project, for example, law students focus on providing high-school aged students with a comprehensive look at the legal issues of consent, sexual assault, and bystander intervention. Law students interested in working with Indigenous youth can volunteer with the Indigenous Youth Outreach Program, run by LEVEL Justice, to deliver workshops at the Siksika Outreach School. This coming year, PBSC U of C will also expand its Hearsay Podcast project, which had a strong first year in 2017-18. This project saw students interviewing legal experts and producing public legal education podcasts on various topics, including immigration laws and freedom of expression. Check out last year’s episodes here.
Both PBSC U of C and PBSC U of A are active participants in campus life. This year, PBSC U of C will host the annual Public Interest Career Panel in partnership with the UCalgary Law Career and Professional Development Office. Students will hear from an exciting panel of practitioners about their careers in public interest law, followed by a networking reception with members of the Calgary legal community. Amanda Ghahremani, Legal Director and Acting Managing Director for the Canadian Centre for International Justice will be a panelist. At U of A, PBSC partners with the Student Legal Services to run a joint open house for students, faculty, and advising lawyers, which enhances the pro bono community at the law school.
So much is happening at our PBSC chapters in Alberta! We are very proud of their hard work and impact, and we are so grateful to our many Alberta partners. A special thank you to the Alberta Law Foundation for its support.