April 28, 2021
Today’s special edition of the eBulletin marks the third issue of the Access to Justice edition. 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. We hope to continue to promote the affordability and availability of legal services and remove regulatory barriers to access where reasonable and appropriate.
Lawyer Referral Service: One Year Later
Access to justice is a key strategic goal for the Law Society, serving as one of the four pillars of our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan. As part of the work of that Strategic Plan, we have increased resources providing information for the public about legal services and assistance in finding the services it needs. In late March of 2020, the Law Society moved the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) in-house from Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG), to the Law Society’s Customer Service team.

LRS assists members of the public in finding a lawyer. This is a voluntary program for lawyers who choose to sign up. Members of the public can contact the LRS via phone or email, advise the operator of their legal problem and be provided the contact details of up to three lawyers in the relevant area of law.
The first half-hour of conversation with the provided lawyers is unbilled, and should be used to discuss the client’s legal issues, options, potential costs and determine if the lawyer is a good fit for their legal issue.

“LRS has operated continuously since 1972, and throughout that time it has grown and changed to meet the needs of Albertans,” says President Darlene Scott, QC. “We had an opportunity to expand the capabilities and resources of LRS, improving both the responsiveness and speed of service for Albertans and lawyers.”
Lawyer Referral Service Review and Survey
After running the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) in-house for a year, the Law Society is reviewing the service to better understand if enhancements are required to support both the public and Alberta lawyers. Starting Friday, the Law Society will be surveying lawyers and members of the public who have used LRS in the past year to collect information on their experience.

The anonymous survey will be open until May 30, 2021. All survey information will be analyzed by a third-party researcher for accuracy and transparency of our results.

To access the survey, visit the Law Society Listens website. Please note that there are two surveys for lawyers (those who participate in LRS and those who do not) – please select the survey that is appropriate for your situation.

If you have any questions or concerns from lawyers about Lawyer Referral, please contact Customer Service.
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.

BLG Business Venture Clinic

The Business Venture Clinic is a student-run, pro bono legal clinic at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law. Law students assist entrepreneurs in creating new businesses. Over the past five years, the clinic has worked with over 400 entrepreneurs.
  • Volunteers Needed: Lawyers in any area of the law that have been practising for three years or more. 
  • Volunteer Role: Act as a mentor to students, reviewing and providing feedback on written agreements or memos generated by the students over the course of the academic year.
  • Time Commitment: Approximately one to two hours per month.
  • Contact: Email businesscliniccoordinator@gmail.com for more information.

Calgary Legal Guidance

Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG) 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. CLG has a number of new volunteer positions they are looking to fill:
  • Pre-Apprehension Child Welfare Program: CLG is looking to launch a new program related to child welfare issues and needs volunteers willing to provide summary advice, coach other volunteers and present on the issue to community groups and agencies. Interest in child welfare or family law is an asset.
  • Pro Bono File Roster Program: CLG is recruiting lawyers willing to take on a pro bono file through their Pro Bono File Roster Program. Areas of law include civil, family, criminal, employment and human rights law.
  • Lawyers Fluent in Chinese: CLG is currently looking for lawyers fluent in Chinese who can serve its Chinese client base at its Legal Advice Clinics. The clinics run remotely by phone or online with a time commitment of 2.5 hours per month. Areas of law include family, civil, employment and human rights law.

If you are interested in volunteering for any of the positions above, contact Kim at feodoroffk@clg.ab.ca.

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. ECLC is also in need of volunteer lawyers interested in disability law, as well as lawyers who can leverage their Administrative Law experience and work with advocates to come up with creative solutions for individuals and systemic problems when all other avenues have been exhausted.
  • 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.

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.
  • CCDC Project: Provide brief legal assistance to self-represented litigants with civil matters in the Provincial Court.
  • 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 want 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.
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.