October 28, 2021
Welcome to part two of the latest edition of the Access to Justice eBulletin. The aim of this eBulletin is to highlight access to justice issues within Alberta and promote awareness of key pro bono initiatives to the greater legal community. Access to justice is one of four strategic goals in our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. Working within our regulatory mandate, we want to promote affordability and availability of legal services and remove regulatory barriers where possible.
Volunteers Needed
The Law Society offers a status known as active, pro bono. This status allows you to exclusively volunteer at an Approved Legal Services Provider (ALSP) and is the same annual cost as holding inactive status. You do not need to purchase indemnity coverage with an active, pro bono status. If you are considering making a status change or planning to retire, we encourage you to consider electing a pro bono status instead of an inactive status.

Read the volunteer needs below from ALSPs in Alberta. Under the Law Society’s ALSP program, these providers offer pro bono legal advice on various topics, allowing underserved individuals to receive the advice and support they need. If you are interested, consider volunteering with an ALSP to promote access to justice. Your contribution will help to alleviate some of the stress the pro bono legal community is facing as a result of the pandemic and current economic situation.

Volunteers Needed

Alberta Law Foundation Update
The Alberta Law Foundation (the Foundation) is the largest non-government funder of Access to Justice in Alberta.

Created in 1973 under the Legal Profession Act (the Act), the Foundation has been supporting law reform, law libraries, public legal education, legal information, advice and representation to vulnerable individuals throughout the province for 48 years.

2021 Annual Report

In 2020-21, 43 grants totaling over $15 million were allocated to non-profit organizations for programs and projects that advance access to justice in Alberta. In addition, the Foundation contributed $12.8 million to Legal Aid Alberta in 2020-21. More information about the Foundation and the programs it supports can be found in their 2021 Annual Report.

How Lawyers Can Support the Foundation and Access to Justice

The Foundation’s primary source of revenue is the interest that financial institutions pay to the Foundation on lawyers’ pooled trust accounts. Pursuant to section 126 of the Act, every lawyer holding a pooled trust account in Alberta is required to direct the financial institution where the account is held to pay interest to the Foundation in accordance with the arrangement between the financial institution and the Foundation. In the last few years, the Foundation has identified over $2 million in unpaid interest because lawyers’ accounts were not opened correctly and/or the firm did not instruct the financial institution to pay the interest to the Foundation.

Read more for a few simple steps that lawyers can take to ensure the Foundation receives the appropriate amount of interest and ensure its ongoing ability to fund these important programs.
Calgary Legal Guidance Firm Volunteer Opportunity
Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG) is offering a program inviting interested local firms to “host” a clinic night several times during the year. Hosting a clinic night is an easy way to promote your firm’s pro bono program or involvement and help vulnerable Albertans gain improved access to justice.

In this program, your firm agrees to a set number of clinics for the next year. These can occur monthly, every other month, or bi-annually (twice a year) and run for approximately two hours. CLG will do all the intake and scheduling of clients, while you provide three to four lawyers who will volunteer during the clinic to provide legal guidance/advice either in person or by phone, depending on your preference.

CLG can schedule clients with legal needs specific to what your firm does or can offer clients with a range of legal concerns. These could include:

  • Family,
  • Elder (wills/estates/etc),
  • Criminal Defence,
  • Civil (employment, landlord/tenant, etc),
  • Identification needs (statutory declaration based ID cards),
  • Human Rights (LGBTQ2SI, discrimination, Mental Health Act, etc),
  • Immigration Law,
  • Child Welfare (pre-apprehension), and
  • Indigenous Law. 

If you participate, CLG will promote your firm as a “Friend of Pro Bono” on their website and other publications, as well as provide all the necessary training and orientation.

If you are interested in participating or have any further questions on the program, please contact Kim Feodoroff and cc Marina Giacomin.