Pro Bono

 

There is no better way to give back to your profession – and the community at large – than by volunteering for one of the Society's pro bono projects. If you are looking for an opportunity to make a difference, you’ve found it here. Before you get started, it is important that you to read our Pro Bono Guidelines .
 

Pro Bono Opportunities:

 

Duty Counsel for LSUC Disciplinary Hearings

Society members make meaningful contributions to the administration of justice by assisting unrepresented lawyers at Law Society Discipline Committee Hearings. Duty counsel speak to adjournments, help finalize agreed statements of fact, act on consent findings of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming, and speak to penalty.

The program is especially in need of French-speaking volunteers and volunteers with experience in mental health law.
 
Duty Counsel Training Materials
Volunteer Registration Form/formulaire d'inscription des bénévoles
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Ontario Securities Commission Litigation Assistance Program

The Securities Litigation Practice Group started the OSC Litigation Assistance Program (LAP) in 2011 as a pilot project with five volunteer counsel. The pilot was incredibly successful and has been extended and expanded.

The LAP offers volunteer litigation services to unrepresented respondents appearing in enforcement proceedings before the Ontario Securities Commission. Volunteer counsel assist unrepresented respondents in enforcement cases in four areas:
  • Prehearing Conferences
  • Settlement Conferences
  • Sanction/Costs Hearings
  • Certain Motions
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Appeals Assistance

In partnership with Pro Bono Ontario, TAS members support three areas of appeals assistance. They are:
  • Appeals Assistance Project
  • Crown Wardship Appeals Program
  • Federal Court Assistance Project
Appeals Assistance Project
This “matching program” allows self-represented appellants and respondents to apply for pro bono assistance with appeals.

Roster volunteers receive the reasons of the decision being appealed and, if available, the notice of appeal. A volunteer who is interested in assisting would then advise Pro Bono Ontario and obtain further information.

The volunteer may assist on either a full representation basis or a limited scope basis. Limited scope representation may include, for example, providing an initial consultation to the client, assisting with drafting written materials or with preparing oral argument.

A Note About the Lawyer/Client Relationship: When a volunteer is matched with a party seeking assistance, a lawyer/client relationship is created and a retainer agreement for pro bono services is recommended.
 
Crown Wardship Appeals Program
Volunteers represent low-income litigants appealing Crown Wardship No Access Orders. Litigants may apply for assistance once a Notice of Appeal has been filed.

A Note About the Lawyer/Client Relationship: When a volunteer is matched with a party seeking assistance, a lawyer/client relationship is created and a retainer agreement for pro bono services is recommended.
 
Federal Court Assistance Project
The Federal Court Assistance Project provides low-income, unrepresented litigants in the Federal Court with the assistance of counsel on matters with a reasonable prospect of success.

While it is expected that counsel will provide full representation in matters of interest to them, there may be scope for more limited assistance as the project develops. Lawyers at any level of practice are welcome to participate, but sufficient Federal Court experience or mentorship must be demonstrated.

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Amicus/Duty Counsel Program

This program allows lawyers to help self-represented litigants with in-person family motions at the Court of Appeal. Volunteers will be scheduled on days when family law motions are expected to be heard and will be provided with filed material in advance, although the amount of time between receipt of the material and the hearing of the motions is likely to be short. Because the scheduling is not entirely predictable, roster volunteers may be asked to be “on call” to respond to family law-related questions on motions.

A Note About the Lawyer/Client Relationship: When serving in the amicus role, duty counsel lawyers are not entering into a lawyer/client relationship. The essence of the role is to assist the Court and the self-represented litigants appearing before it by ensuring that those litigants are properly heard.

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Child Advocacy Project: Education Law Program

Since 2002, The Advocates' Society has been helping safeguard the public education rights of low-income children and youth across Ontario. Through the Child Advocacy Project's (CAP) Education Law Program, our members provide summary advice, verbal and written intervention with school administrators, and representation at hearings and tribunals for children and youth whose legal rights at school are denied. Lawyers involved in this project have handled over 1,000 cases with a success rate of more than 90 per cent.

CAP frequently hears from families in rural and northern communities, where local legal resources are unavailable. For this reason, volunteers are sometimes asked to provide remote legal services, by telephone or Skype. The Advocates' Society endorses remote legal services because, in many cases, they are the only way to ensure that children's rights at school are upheld.
 
CAP is a volunteer-based legal service run in partnership with Pro Bono Law Ontario, The Advocates' Society (TAS) and Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), the province's only specialty legal clinic for youth under 18.

Volunteers are not required to have prior experience in education law and will benefit from the expert training and ongoing mentoring provided by the staff lawyers at JFCY.
 
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Law Help Ontario

Law Help Ontario is an award-winning project of Pro Bono Ontario that provides pro bono legal services in civil, non-family matters to unrepresented litigants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer and who do not qualify for Legal Aid.

The project currently operates two court-based self-help centres in Toronto and one in Ottawa.
 
Volunteers have the opportunity to provide brief summary advice and may, on occasion, represent litigants at examinations, settlement conferences, court hearings or other attendances related to their matters.
 
This project is primarily aimed at junior to intermediate lawyers but there are no experience-based restrictions. Completion of a Continuing Legal Education program and familiarity with the civil process, including the Rules of Civil Procedure, are required. The CLE program can be tailored to ensure it is as convenient as possible for volunteer lawyers.
 
The time commitment for this project is one full day (or two half days) per quarter from 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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