March 15, 2022
Welcome to the latest issue 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 to access where possible.
Increasing Insolvencies Signal Rising Need for Local Debt and Foreclosure Advice
The latest release of insolvency statistics has volunteer lawyers at the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILC) on watch. The PILC is a teaching program at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law. Upper year law students learn advocacy skills from clinician instructors and volunteer lawyers through direct involvement in law reform projects and test case litigation.

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, Alberta saw a 17 per cent increase in insolvency filings from October to November 2021. That rising number is an indicator for an expected increase of people seeking help with foreclosure and debt issues generally.

The PILC hosts the Consumer Debt Negotiation Project, a free legal service pairing volunteer lawyers with anyone in Alberta who needs to understand the legal process and their options in relation to foreclosures and other debt. In many cases, the lawyers help the homeowner or debtor negotiate with their creditors to find a way forward.

“The project has successfully helped a number of homeowners. Some keep their homes by working with the banks’ representatives and insurers like CMHC. When keeping their home is not possible, we help them through the foreclosure process. In those cases, the goal is an exit with dignity,” says Christine Laing, Executive Director of the PILC.

The Consumer Debt Negotiation Project is a resource for your clients who are facing foreclosure or other debt issues. For more information on the project, visit their website or contact Christine Laing.
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 plan to retire, we encourage you to consider electing a pro bono status instead of an inactive status. Visit our website for more information about status options.

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.

Edmonton Community Legal Centre

The Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC) recently had a successful fundraiser celebrating their 20th anniversary and would like to thank everyone who contributed. ECLC provides free legal advice to low-income individuals, with the assistance of volunteer lawyers and articling students. It is supported by a multidisciplinary team including staff lawyers, articling students, legal assistants, social workers, students and professionals with a range of backgrounds and education.

Clinic Lawyers Urgently Needed

ECLC urgently needs family and civil lawyers for their clinics. Training can be provided on common topics. Articling students can volunteer to provide advice with the permission of their principal. ECLC provides shadowing and training opportunities.

  • Volunteer Role: Meet with clients by telephone or in-person and provide summary legal advice on family, civil or immigration matters. 
  • Time Commitment: Weekly, biweekly or monthly for two to three hours per shift. Flexible day and evening times available for remote appointments.
  • Contact: Visit their website or email Ruth Thangiah, Communications and Lawyer Engagement Coordinator.

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. The organization turned 50 this year and to celebrate this milestone, they are hosting a fundraising event and are looking for 50 new or past volunteer lawyers to join their summary advice clinic.

  • Volunteers Needed: Family, criminal, immigration and civil lawyers. There is a particular increase is civil cases, so consider volunteering if you are interested and this is your area of law. 
  • Volunteer Role: Advise, inform and direct people through the legal system through meetings by phone (hoping to reopen the summary advice clinics to in-person services in the spring).
  • Time Commitment: One to two two-hour shifts per month.
  • Contact: Kim Feodoroff via email

CLG is also 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.


IntegralOrg offers education and support in governance, strategic planning, risk management, legal compliance and financial management for registered charities and non-profit organizations.

  • Volunteers Needed: Lawyers interested in charities and non-profit law.
  • Volunteer Role: Participate as a member of the legal committee; provide one-on-one clinics with organizations; assist with issue spotting and problem solving on various issues including legal regulatory matters; and review, revise and create, as needed, legal information in toolkits to be used by charities and non-profits on select issues of legal concern.
  • Time Commitment: No fixed time commitment — set based on volunteer lawyer availability.
  • Contact: Email or call Yvonne Chenier, QC at 587.323.4569.