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Pro Bono Law Alberta.

Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA) is a provincial not-for-profit charitable organization, established in 2007, that promotes and supports the development and delivery of organized pro bono legal services in Alberta. Pro bono literally means "for the public good". Pro Bono is used to describe legal work or services provided free of charge. PBLA serves the public interest by enhancing access to justice for those who otherwise would not have access to legal services.

PBLA is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by an Advisory Board comprised of senior members of the Bar and the judiciary. PBLA promotes access to justice by creating opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to low income Albertans who are not eligible for Legal Aid. PBLA works with the legal profession in enhancing the growth and fostering of a pro bono culture within the legal profession across Alberta. Pro bono services are intended to complement, not replace, a properly funded legal aid system.

PBLA has developed a best practice guide for law firms entitled "Investing in Pro Bono: A Best Practice Guide for Pro Bono Legal Services by Law Firms." PBLA continues to work with law firms to help them create a pro bono policy specific to their firm's needs. The policy assists law firms to formalize and track the commitment that their lawyers have made in providing pro bono services.

PBLA looks forward to hosting the third national pro bono conference in Calgary from September 15-17, 2010 and is working with Pro Bono Law Ontario, Pro Bono Law of British Columbia, Pro Bono Quebec, and Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan in the planning. The conference will provide an opportunity for stakeholders across Canada to further their commitment to the belief that pro bono service is a professional obligation, and that it plays a critical role in improving access to justice. The conference will recognize the creative energies of the judiciary, the private bar, government lawyers, and community groups who work in partnership to serve the most vulnerable members of our society. The conference will highlight not only the excellent programs and services that exist in Alberta but will also promote pro bono service delivery across the nation given the conference's national scope.

PBLA also facilitates the creation of relationships between law firms and existing clinics and community groups to provide the delivery of pro bono legal services. For example, PBLA brokered a relationship between Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) and Children's Legal and Educational Resource Centre (CLERC). Since early 2008, BLG volunteers have assisted CLERC with background research on several client cases as well as legal representation. In addition, PBLA partnered with the Association of Women Lawyers and the Women's Centre of Calgary to assist in the recruitment of additional volunteers to support the expansion of pro bono legal services offered by the legal clinic. PBLA has also brokered a new partnership between Davis LLP and the Alex Pathways to Housing Program. Davis LLP has agreed to support the Project by providing pro bono legal services internally to the organization.

Pro bono clinics, programs, and organizations are in operation throughout the province and provide free legal advice, information, and education to Albertans who are not able to afford access to justice. If you are a member of the public seeking legal advice or information, you may wish to visit one of the following pro bono providers: Calgary Legal Guidance, The Women's Centre Legal Advice Clinic (Calgary), Children's Legal and Educational Resource Centre (Calgary), Student Legal Assistance (Calgary), Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic (Red Deer), The Edmonton Community Legal Centre, Lethbridge Legal Guidance, Student Legal Services (Edmonton) and Grande Prairie Legal Guidance. PBLA continues to support the existing clinics and has undertaken further expansion of pro bono services through volunteer recruitment and outreach initiatives.

Assistance for eligible charitable organizations, including free legal service and advice, may be available by accessing the Volunteer Lawyer Service and Pro Bono Students Canada in both Calgary and Edmonton.

If you are a lawyer wishing to provide pro bono services, the following organizations have a variety of volunteer opportunities available: Calgary Legal Guidance, Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic (Red Deer), Edmonton Community Legal Centre, Grande Prairie Legal Guidance, Lethbridge Legal Guidance, and The Women's Centre Legal Advice Clinic (Calgary).

For more information and a list of services provided by each of the clinics and organizations visit http://www.pbla.ca/ public/. For more information on PBLA visit http://www.pbla.ca/.

Cecelia Frohlick is a Project Manager with Pro Bono Law Alberta in Calgary, Alberta.
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Title Annotation:Legal Events
Author:Frohlick, Cecelia
Publication:LawNow
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 29, 2010
Words:759
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