Pro Bono Project
was the Three Counties Pro Bono project?
What initiatives took place
in the Pro Bono project?
What is in store for the
Continuing PBLO initiatives
How can I get more information
about Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO)?
What was the Three
Counties Pro Bono Project?
The expression “pro bono,” from the Latin phrase “pro bono publico”, means public good. In legal terms, it means representation of
someone free of charge.
The Community Advocacy & Legal Centre was approached by Pro Bono Law Ontario
in 2004 to initiate a project in our geographic area. We were provided with
a start-up grant by PBLO.
The objectives of the project were threefold:
to provide training and recruit volunteer lawyers to
provide legal information and services in education and special
education issues which was dubbed the “Child Advocacy Project”
to recruit volunteers to provide information and services
to non profit agencies, which was labeled the “VLS Project”
to encourage participation in local, organized pro bono
work and recognize the pro bono contributions of local lawyers.
What initiatives took
place in the Pro Bono Project?
A local Steering Committee was formed to oversee the project,
consisting of members of the legal community in Lennox & Addington and
Hastings County. A retired local educator also joined the Steering
Local Law Associations were involved in the Three Counties Pro Bono Project.
We requested and received an endorsement for the project from both the
Hastings County Law Association and the Lennox & Addington Law Association.
The Hastings County Law Association hosted Justice Stephen Goudge to speak
about Pro Bono Law Ontario at their 2004 Annual General Meeting.
Recruiting and training of volunteer lawyers for the Child Advocacy portion
of the project was undertaken. In the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005
training was provided to lawyers on Education Law, Special Education and
human rights issues in Education. A separate training session was conducted
for service providers in the fall of 2004.
The Three Counties Pro Bono Project provide training material to the
participants in the legal education sessions, as well as providing resource
material to the local law libraries.
An extensive survey of private bar members was developed and completed in
the summer of 2005. We were not surprised to find that local lawyers are
already doing a wide variety of pro bono work in the community. Respondents
also expressed interest in participating in future pro bono work.
The Steering Committee recommended moving forward with the non-profit
portion of the project by use of the existing Volunteer Lawyer Service
(VLS), which is a registered project of PBLO. VLS offers a mechanism for
local lawyers to register in order to provide legal advice or information to
non profit agencies.
What is in store for the
Public Legal Education
Many lawyers in our area have expressed an interest in
providing information by way of public legal education. Armed with the
information collected in the 2005 survey, we have a good base of potential
volunteers when our future “Community Law School” launches. We are working
on a project that will allow an organized approach to public legal education
in our area and are presently seeking funding for a Coordinator to organize
events such as brown bag lunches, newspaper columns and radio talk shows.
Watch our website for details.
In Celebration, In Recognition, In Appreciation
The Community Advocacy & Legal Centre hosted an Appreciation
Gathering for local lawyers on January 22, 2007, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
at our office in Belleville. This was one of the ways to thank lawyers for
the pro bono work they do in the community. We hope to make it an
The focus of our Child Advocacy Project was the provision of
legal service and advice to low income families experiencing difficulty with
the education sector, particularly in the area of special education. Our
project with Pro Bono Law Ontario has ended, thus the extended insurance
coverage that was available to lawyers through such a project has ceased.
The Community Advocacy & Legal Centre is no longer referring education law
issues to our private bar panel. If a lawyer is interested in providing this
service, contact the Child Advocacy Project (CAP) of Pro Bono Law Ontario.
You may register with the Child Advocacy Project at 1-866-466-7256 or on
their website at www.pblo.org.
CAP has confirmed that membership in the Advocate’s Society is not required
in order to participate in the program.
Please note that our clinic, through the course of the Three
Counties Pro Bono Project, has developed materials which are available to
local lawyers. Contact Gina Cockburn at 613-966-8686 Extension 34 to request
The speciality legal clinic, Justice for Children and Youth
produces thorough pamphlets which contain basic, understandable information
for parents. The JFCY has also recently posted material to their website at
A further resource may be found at
Volunteer Lawyers Service
The Volunteer Lawyers Service (VLS) offers legal support to
eligible charitable and nonprofit organizations in Ontario. VLS matches
community agencies with volunteer lawyers who can help with a range of
services such as incorporation, charitable registration, board governance,
contracts or trademark registrations.
VLS also provides educational seminars and online support
materials to help community agencies strengthen their business practices.
Visit their site at
to learn more about what they do and if your organization is eligible for
Lawyers may register through this service to provide legal
advice/information to non profit organizations.
Local lawyers may specify the county in which they are
willing to provide service. The benefits of registration through VLS include
initial screening of service requests by VLS and the insurance coverage of
an endorsed Pro Bono project.
How can I get more information
about Pro Bono Law Ontario?
Visit the provincial organization at
www.pblo.org. This site
also acts as the entry point for
an online resource to assist lawyers who want to volunteer and for members
of the general public seeking access to pro bono services.
The public can go directly to the
Law Help Ontario
section to find out where you can get pro bono legal help through projects
currently registered with Pro Bono Law Ontario. They also have a
number of fact sheets and legal information, including self-representation
guidebooks, videos, court forms, and court guides in areas
You can also ask a question to their
live chat line,
offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.