PBSC Training Session. 2012-2013. What is Pro Bono?. PBSC Mandate. PBSC aims to provide vulnerable communities with legal services free of charge, to provide law students with out-of-the classroom legal experience, and
PBSC Mandate PBSC aims to provide vulnerable communities with legal services free of charge, to provide law students with out-of-the classroom legal experience, and to instill the pro bono ethic in future lawyers from their first day of law school.
Pro Bono Students Canada The only national pro bono program in Canada Has been serving the legal profession for 15 years Operates 22 Canadian law school chapters Approximately 1500 volunteers nationwide Runs almost 500 projects every year Provides 120,000 hours of legal services each year
PBSC increases access to justice by partnering with: Not-for-profit Organizations Legal Clinics and Law Help Centres Government Agencies Courts and Tribunals Lawyers working on Pro Bono files How PBSC Works
What Do PBSC Volunteers Do? Legal Research and Writing – summarize legislation and write case briefs for non-profit organizations and pro bono lawyers Clinical Projects – assist lawyers by conducting client intake, providing information to clients, assisting with document preparation Public Presentations – develop and deliver legal information seminars to members of the public who do not have access to lawyers; create plain language documents for the public
General PBSC Training Westlaw Canada Training Student Agreement Form 3–5 Hours per Week on Your PBSC Project On-line, end-of-year survey What is Required from PBSC Students?
PBSC Timeline September October PBSC General Training (this is it!) PBSC-Westlaw Canada Training Make Contact with your Organization Make Contact with your Lawyer Supervisor (if he or she is not also from your organization) Meet With Your Organization and Supervising Lawyer Develop a Work Plan and have it approved by your Organization and Supervising Lawyer Begin Working on your Placement
Prior to the meeting, gather background information Ask for more details about your assigned project Make sure to take careful notes! Ask: Where should I begin with my research? Are there any special resources available that I can use? Do you have examples of similar work that I can review? What would you like the final product to look like? Is there anything else I need to know? First Meeting What to Discuss
Discuss how you should work through the project with your supervisor Devise a schedule with timelines and benchmarks you will need to hit Set a final deadline and dates for a number of regular ‘check-ins’ along the way Draft the work plan and ask your organization and lawyer supervisor to approve it Develop A Work Plan What it Should Contain
PBSC Timeline November December Continue Working on Your Project Make yourself available to the Program Coordinator for Monitoring Check in with your Organization and Lawyer Supervisor about where your project is at (if applicable) Attend PBSC’s Fall Community Building Event! Exam Time. We have made it clear to your Organization that this month, you will not be working on your PBSC project. Good luck!
PBSC Timeline January February Resume Work on Your Project Consider Applying to be a 2012-2013 Program Coordinator Consider Applying to be a 2012-2013 National Office Coordinator Continue Working on Your Project Respond to the second Monitoring telephone call
PBSC Timeline March April Submit Your Final Project (if Applicable) before the Exam Period Begins Attend PBSC’s Final Appreciation Event! Complete PBSC’s on-line, End of Year Survey Your project should be completed and submitted at this point, so you can focus on your exams.
Expectations What is Expected of PBSC Students?
PBSC Volunteers are Professionals This includes support staff, fellow volunteers, supervisors, clients, opposing counsel, your PBSC Coordinator, etc. Treat Everyone with Respect Follow Through On All Commitments Answer all phone calls and emails in a timely fashion (the professional rule of thumb is within 24 hours, even just to acknowledge receipt) Be responsive to the specific requests made by your organization and lawyer supervisors, as well as your PBSC Coordinators. Arrive on time and prepared for all meetings and complete all tasks as requested and promised and within the time frame agreed.
PBSC Volunteers are Professionals While there’s no such thing as perfect, PBSC volunteers should not submit any work until they believe that it is. Your organization and lawyer supervisor are not editors! Communicate Professionally All Communication, including email, should be formal and professional and include a proper greeting, complete sentences, and a proper salutation. Note: professional emails do not include “Hey guys”, “LOL” or “”! Submit only the Highest-Quality Work
Scenario Catherine McMahon and Simon Cheng are PBSC volunteersand they have been assigned to: work at a clinic that provides litigation support to a rights-based organization seeking to start a Charter challenge under s.15. After a conference call with the clinic’s lawyer: They divide up the work that has been assigned, but agree to meet to collaborate on a memo on the legal issues identified in the call. A deadline has been set for the memo so that the lawyer can review it. Catherine can’t meet the deadline, even after an extension. Simon sends in his memo and copies sections of Prof. Hogg’s treatise on the Constitution for the work that Catherine was supposed to do. The lawyer has to quickly edit the memo to have something presentable for the partner organization. The lawyer schedules a meeting with Catherine and Simon to discuss the work, but it can only be after the meeting with the client group.
Scenario On the day of the meeting: Catherine sends in her own version of her research by email directly to all of the participants, thinking this makes up for her error. They meet with the lawyer to discuss the memo and her concerns about the work that has been completed. The lawyer asks them to complete one follow-up memo which is not a part of the original placement. Since there is still another two months left to the program year, Catherine and Simon agree to do the follow up assignment. Shortly thereafter, Catherine sends the following email to her Coordinator:
Catherine’s e-mail to the PC From:Catherine.Volunteer@gmail.comSent: Sunday, January 10 12:20 AMTo:Victor.Coordinator@utoronto.caCc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: RE: hey, i’mreally unhappy with my project. this has been a really crappy experience. I talked about it with my Con Law class and they agree that clearly this is a pointless Charter case :s, so what’s the point? Sorry, I’m just not going to be able to finish this up – I’m falling behind in my classes and need the time to study. Can you let the organization know they’ll just have to find someone else? Also, can I still put this on my resume?
Importance of Ethical and Professional Behaviour As a student you have already entered the legal profession and begun the process of establishing your professional reputation Every interaction you have with classmates, professors, lawyers or organizations matters The Bar is small: you will want to make sure the reputation you develop is one of a competent, reliable and ethical professional Your Reputation is Key
Importance of Ethical and Professional Behaviour PBSC– PBSC’s reputation can be damaged by any unprofessional behavior The Law School - When you interact with various stakeholders, you are the face of your law school, as well as PBSC The Legal Profession - Your actions influence how lawyers are viewed by the public It’s Not Only Your Personal Reputation
Professionalism in PBSC Context Loyalty To whom am I loyal? Who is my client? For PBSC volunteers, your“client” is the organization. Confidentiality As a general rule, volunteers should not discuss anything about a project or a file with anyone outside of the organization
Professionalism in PBSC Context Competence There is an expectation you will be knowledgeable, diligent, and exercise the appropriate judgment necessary to assist your client (the organization) Conflict of Interest A conflicting interest is an interest that would be likely to affect adversely your judgment on behalf of, or loyalty to, your client (the organization)
Time Management Disengagement Withdrawal Potential Challenges You Might Face:
Legal Advice vs. Legal Information
PBSC Policy PBSC Volunteers CANNOT provide direct legal advice for at least 3 reasons: The Law Society does not allow law students to provide legal advice Law students are not qualified to provide legal advice Law Students are not insured to provide legal advice
Legal Information vs. Legal AdviceLaw Students CAN provide legal information. Although the line between legal information and legal advice can be blurry, it is critical that all PBSC volunteers understand the distinction: Legal Information Legal Advice Legal information is a general, objective description of the state of the law and not based on a specific set of facts Legal advice is a subjective opinion about how the law applies to a specific set of facts
Some PBSC projects do cross over the line from legal information to legal advice! PBSC operates a small number of projects where students provide legal services that go beyond mere information For all of these projects, students work under the close and constant supervision of a lawyer This year the following PBSC projects include some element of legal advice: Project 1 Project 2 Project 3
Sample Disclaimer for Written Documents “This document does not contain legal advice. Pro Bono students Canada is a student organization. This document was prepared with the assistance of PBSC law student volunteers. PBSC students are not lawyers and they are not authorized to provide legal advice. This document contains general discussion of certain legal and related issues only. If you require legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.”
Legal Information vs. Legal Advice Exercise You have been placed with the East End Legal Clinic. As part of your placement, you will be responsible for the following tasks: Assisting with client intake; Legal Research for a factum; Drafting letters to counsel and tenant applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board; Developing and delivering public legal education seminars on tenant rights; and Posting poverty law-related developments, particularly new judicial decisions, on the clinic’s blog.
Conclusion PBSC’s role is to provide you with a practical, meaningful experience in the community Your role is to make a firm commitment and provide the most professional service possible We are here to help: contact us for assistance at any point in the year Good luck with your placement!
Before we take your questions, thank you to PBSC’s sponsors:
And Thank You To: Chantal Morton – Centre for the Legal Profession Archie Kaiser – Schulich School of Law For their assistance in creating the slides on Ethics and Professionalism