January 28, 2021
Today’s special edition of the eBulletin marks the second issue of the Access to Justice edition. As introduced in our inaugural edition last October, 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 the central tenets of the our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, and we hope to continue to promote the affordability and availability of legal services and remove regulatory barriers to access where reasonable and appropriate.
Student-Led Legal Clinics Adapt to COVID-19 Challenges
When the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of most courthouses in Alberta, student volunteers and administrators from both Student Legal Services (SLS) in Edmonton and Student Legal Assistance (SLA) in Calgary had to rethink their approach to providing legal information and assistance to their clients. While serving low-income Albertans is the primary mission of these organizations, neither had encountered a situation where issues with access to justice were less about having funds and more about being physically unable to engage with the justice system.

With offices housed in the law schools of the University of Alberta and University of Calgary, respectively, SLS and SLA had to make several significant changes to adapt to the new “normal” as both locations were closed during the campus shutdown in the spring. Deciding how to move forward with their respective mandates in a time of social distancing and remote work created new challenges and opportunities for students, advising lawyers and administration. Click here to read the full story.
“Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives”: An online course offered by the Justice Sector Constellation
For those interested in learning more about access to justice issues, Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives is a free, interactive online module provided by the Justice Sector Constellation. The module will equip you to better serve your clients and communities through an understanding of the issues that arise at the intersection of poverty and the legal system.

The module includes learning outcomes, discussion questions, a reflective journal to encourage interaction with the module, and a knowledge check. You may print out a Certificate of Completion once you have successfully passed the knowledge check (70 per cent correct required). The module takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours to read, excluding time you may spend with the reflective journal.

The module may also be used in an educational or group setting. To support those efforts, an instructor’s resource, found at Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives - Instructor's Resource, includes additional activities that can be used to encourage engagement with the content of the module.
Both the module and the instructor’s resource are free to you, thanks to funding from the Catalyst Fund of Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy.
Volunteers Needed
Volunteer recruitment continues to be a challenge for many Approved Legal Services Providers (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 able, consider volunteering with an ALSP to alleviate some of the stress the pro bono legal community is currently facing due to the economic situation and pandemic. These important organizations further promote access to justice in Alberta, and any contribution you can make to their success is highly appreciated.

The following list provides a brief overview of the specific volunteer positions that various ALSPs are in need of. Visit our website for more information on each ALSP and what they do.
Alberta Prison Justice Society

The Alberta Prison Justice Society (APJS) is an organization devoted to addressing injustices in correctional institutions.
  • Volunteers Needed: Any lawyers interested in prison justice issues.
  • Volunteer Role: Assist in conducting research and forwarding legal applications of importance to incarcerated individuals.
  • Time Commitment: Flexible depending on your availability and the specific issues the Society is working on.
  • Contact: Email albertaprisonjusticesociety@gmail.com for more information.

Calgary Legal Guidance

Calgary Legal Guidance provides legal assistance, information and support to people who would not otherwise have access to such services. Their free public legal advice and education, ID clinics and specialized legal programs help people navigate the legal system and understand their rights.
  • Volunteers Needed: General civil and family lawyers (10 of each needed).
  • Volunteer Role: Advise, inform and direct people through the legal system through phone and online meetings.
  • Time Commitment: One to two 2.5 hour shifts per month. Very flexible with scheduling dates and start times.
  • Contact: Kim at feodoroffk@clg.ab.ca

Calgary Legal Guidance is also looking specifically for family lawyers who are experienced in Child and Family Services issues or are looking to learn more in this area to be able to provide legal advice and information. This need is related to a new program they are hoping to launch in the coming months.

Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic

The Community Legal Clinic offers free legal advice to people who qualify for the service. Their head office is located in Red Deer, however they also provide legal services throughout Central Alberta, as well as in Medicine Hat, Fort McMurray and Lloydminster.
  • Volunteers Needed: Family or criminal law lawyers urgently needed.
  • Volunteer Role: Provide summary legal advice to people in pre-booked appointments of 30 to 45 minutes over a two-hour period.
  • Time Commitment: Monthly, but flexible depending on the needs of volunteers; daytime or evening shifts available.
  • Contact: Visit their website or email info@communitylegalclinic.net for more information.

Edmonton Community Legal Centre

The Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC) provides effective advocacy and access to justice in a supportive environment to persons living with low income. It is unique in its holistic approach to legal problems, situating the individual and family within the broader picture of their personal, financial and social circumstances.
  • Volunteers Needed: Urgent need for lawyers with expertise in Wills & Estates. In general, civil, immigration and family law lawyers also needed.
  • Volunteer Role: Meet with clients in-person or by telephone and provide summary legal information and advice on a variety of legal matters.
  • Time Commitment: Once or twice a month for one to three hours per shift. Flexible times available for in-person and remote appointments.
  • Contact: Giselle General, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator, at GGeneral@eclc.ca or visit their website.

View the ECLC website for inspirational videos featuring volunteer lawyers and what they love about working with the clinic.

Lethbridge Legal Guidance

Lethbridge Legal Guidance provides clinical legal services to vulnerable persons who cannot afford legal services and provides public legal information on a variety of law topics. They work to bridge the access to justice gap so individuals who are living in poverty are not further discriminated against and marginalized.
  • Volunteers Needed: Family and criminal law lawyers.
  • Volunteer Role: Provide clients with legal advice, guidance and direction, currently over the phone.
  • Time Commitment: Thirty minutes per client, with up to five clients per session; asked to commit to a handful of sessions a year (twice a year, quarterly, bi-monthly), but highly flexible.
  • Contact: Visit their website.

Volunteer Lawyer Services Program, Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA)

The Volunteer Lawyer Services Program is the umbrella program for PBLA’s pro bono programs and initiatives. It is comprised of three main sub-programs: the Volunteer Lawyers Services Roster, the Civil Claims Duty Counsel (CCDC) Project and the Queen’s Bench Court Assistance Program (QB Amicus). Read more about each program on their website.
  • Volunteers Needed: No specific area needed – any active member of the Law Society, including articling students, can volunteer.
  • Volunteer Role: Varies depending on program:
  • Volunteer Lawyer Services Roster: Assist non-profits and charities with discrete legal needs on full-scope or limited retainer basis.
  • Civil Claims Duty Counsel (CCDC) Project: Provide brief legal assistance to self-represented litigants with civil matters in the Provincial Court.
  • Queen’s Bench Court Assistance Program (QB Amicus): Provide brief legal assistance, including assistance in morning chambers, to self-represented litigants with civil matters at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary and Edmonton.
  • Time Commitment: No fixed time commitment – scheduling is flexible for the CCDC and QB Amicus Programs and lawyers determine scope and type of files they wish to take for the VLS Roster Program.
  • Contact: Email vls@pbla.ca

Please note that the CCDC Project and QB Amicus Program are now running virtually, with services delivered using phone and videoconferencing platforms. Training and ongoing support is provided for volunteers.

For more information, email either civilclaims@pbla.ca for the CCDC Project or courtassistance@pbla.ca for the QB Amicus program.

Women’s Centre of Calgary

The Women’s Centre provides a safe and supportive space accessed by thousands of women in Calgary. As part of their services, they host free legal advice clinics for women, working to create a safe, empathetic and non-judgmental space where women are able to gain information and support.
  • Volunteers Needed: Family law lawyers who identify as a woman.
  • Volunteer Role: Provide one-time, 30-minute sessions of legal advice to those who identify as women.
  • Time Commitment: One two-hour shift per month on an ongoing basis.
  • Contact: Visit their website.
Approved Legal Services Providers Webinar
If your organization is interested in learning more about the ALSP program, this introductory webinar is an excellent place to start. This session will help individuals and organizations who are involved in pro bono legal services to understand the ALSP program, its benefits and how an organization can become eligible for ALSP status. View the full webinar on our website.