TORONTO, ON FEBRUARY 9, 2022 –
Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is proud to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Family Justice Centre’s (FJC) clinic operations. The FJC is a virtual legal clinic that brings together law students and pro bono lawyers to offer free legal services to low-income, self-represented family law litigants.
Since the FJC’s first virtual clinic on February 9, 2021, the program has directly served more than 140 people through summary legal advice and document drafting services, and many more have benefited through its creation and dissemination of public legal education resources. “We are thrilled to see the FJC’s significant impact in its inaugural year of operations,” said Rod Strain, Vice President, Clinic Law Services at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). “The program addresses critical gaps in the access to justice landscape by providing unbundled legal services accessibly, when and where Ontarians need support.”
The FJC is managed by PBSC’s National Office at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and it is staffed by law students and volunteer lawyers. Student caseworkers receive extensive training in family law and related skills, such as anti-oppression practices and trauma informed lawyering. “Working at the FJC has been an invaluable practical learning experience. I have seen firsthand the value that these services have for our clients and how much they appreciate our help. It has inspired me to continue providing pro bono services as a part of my future law practice.” said Amanda LaBorde, an Osgoode Hall Law Student and FJC Student Caseworker.
Supporting the work of the FJC’s law students, the private bar has stood behind this program through crucial in-kind and financial contributions. “We are so pleased to celebrate this one-year milestone of offering operational clinics to the public”, said Roslyn Tsao, Managing Partner at Epstein Cole LLP and FJC Pro Bono Lawyer Supervisor. “I commend the members of our family law bar who have donated their time and the law students and staff at PBSC for working collaboratively and nimbly to enable the FJC to deliver practical legal services via this new model.”
Many of these sentiments were echoed by Ron Shulman, Managing Partner at Shulman & Partners LLP. “The FJC provides a unique opportunity for the private bar to deliver much-needed, accessible services while preparing the next generation of lawyers with the skills and values to continue this work in the future. We are inspired by the progress the FJC has made in its first year and are excited to see it continue to evolve into a fixture in Ontario’s access to justice landscape.”
The FJC was established and continues to operate through the generous funding of its Founding Partner, Epstein Cole LLP, and Program Partner, Legal Aid Ontario, and it receives significant ongoing support from its Champion Partner, Shulman & Partners LLP. The program’s work is also supported by contributions from the Friends of the FJC, Thomson Rogers, Boulby Weinberg LLP, and Settify, as well as its in-kind supporters, Clio and Divorcemate.
About Pro Bono Students Canada
PBSC was established in 1996 at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. PBSC’s mission is to provide free legal support to people and communities facing barriers to justice. Each year, the organization recruits approximately 1,500 law student volunteers who work with community partners and under the supervision of pro bono lawyers and notaries to serve over 12,000 people. The organization’s student volunteers alone provide approximately 120,000 hours of free legal support annually, helping to close the justice gap while providing students with opportunities to develop valuable skills and experiences.
Donor and Media Inquiries
Jason Goodman, Acting National Director
Lawyer/Law Student Volunteer Inquiries
Hilary Ingle, Program Manager