By Carly Romanow, PBLS Executive Director & Staff Lawyer
Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan (“PBLS”) has partnered with the Regina Public Library to pilot a Family Law Free Legal Clinic to address the growing demand for family legal services. PBLS is the provincial pro bono organization in Saskatchewan. We operate 11 Free Legal Clinics across the province and provide further services through our Panel Programs, which match meritorious legal matters with volunteer lawyers for limited or full representation services. Through the Free Legal Clinics, clients are booked an appointment to meet with a volunteer lawyer to receive up to an hour of free legal advice. In 2017, we booked over 1700 appointments, 41% of those appointments dealt with family law matters. In Regina, the Free Legal Clinic runs every Saturday morning (except on long weekends) at the Salvation Army Haven of Hope. Due to the high demand for our services, clients may wait up to 8 weeks to get a family law appointment at the Regina Free Legal Clinic.
To address this long wait period, we are partnering with the Regina Public Library to pilot an additional Free Legal Clinic which would specifically deal with family law matters. The Family Law Free Legal Clinic will operate 1-2 evenings per month at the downtown location of the Regina Public Library starting January 2019. Volunteer lawyers will see up to six clients in 30 minute appointments from 5:30-8:30pm on Monday evenings. Volunteer lawyers would not have an obligation to assist the client outside of the appointment time. The time commitment would be 3-6 clinic shifts throughout the year.
By volunteering with PBLS, you are able to provide quality legal services to those most in need. All clients are screened to ensure they meet our income eligibility. Clients are served on a first come, first serve basis with no prior appointments being booked. Our organization assists Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable populations, including domestic violence survivors, and low-income families. If you are interested in assisting with this program or have any questions about any of our other programs, please contact Carly Romanow at firstname.lastname@example.org or my direct line 306-569-6233.
By Barbra Bailey, Policy Counsel
Law Society of Saskatchewan
The Legal Services Task Team was appointed in 2017 as a joint initiative of the Ministry of Justice and the Law Society of Saskatchewan to examine whether service providers other than lawyers should be permitted to provide some legal services in Saskatchewan.
The Task Team has completed its work and released its final report. The report includes a number of recommendations on how to improve the regulation and provision of legal services in the province.
The recommendations include:
- providing greater clarity to service providers about what legal services are regulated;
- expanding the list of exceptions to the prohibition against practicing law to recognize existing service providers;
- providing the Law Society with licensing authority to allow service providers to practice law with a limited license on a case-by-case basis;
- modernizing the legislation regulating legal services to provide more flexibility for future developments in this area;
- creating guidelines to help educate the public about legal services; and
- conducting pilot projects to help develop and test the recommendations.
The report is now under the consideration of the Minister of Justice and the Benchers of the Law Society of Saskatchewan. Members are encouraged to contact Benchers or Law Society Administration if they have comments on the recommendations. The Benchers will be discussing the recommendations at the September 14th Convocation meeting in Regina.
As CLASSIC has been working with students and advocating for clients for just over a decade, we thought it would be useful to reach out to the legal community to outline what goes on at CLASSIC and what types of student experiences we currently offer.
Walk-in Advocacy Clinic (“WAC”)
The WAC is the clinic CLASSIC is best known for. In the WAC, students work on files for clients. Our largest areas of practice are criminal, admin (particularly residential tenancy and prison) and immigration, though we practice in approximately 12 areas of law. If selected to volunteer, students can volunteer at any time throughout law school. Volunteers spend a minimum of 3 hours a week at CLASSIC, and typically have 3-6 files. Volunteer students may, but do not necessarily, get litigation experience at administrative tribunals or at provincial court.
Students may also participate in the intensive (aka clinical law) program. This is a for-credit course, for one entire academic term. Intensive students spend approximately 3.5 months working on files (Monday to Thursday) and typically have 25-30 files. Students participating in the intensive appear in provincial court regularly and will usually have done sentencing and/or administrative hearings. Students are evaluated on a pass/fail basis for the work they do at CLASSIC. Students receive a letter grade for their work in the seminar. The letter grade reflects the grade for their participation in the seminar and the paper they write for the seminar class. The letter grade may or may not correspond with their ability with actual file work. Since the actual file work is done on a pass/fail basis, hiring committees may want to contact CLASSIC during the hiring process.
Legal Advice Clinic (“LAC”)
The LAC is for indictable criminal, civil, and family law matters. Students volunteering with the LAC will either sit in on 30-minute consultations between a practicing lawyer and their client and take notes as to what the issues are and what advice is given, or work reception during evening clinics. Students typically do this once per month, for approximately 3 hours. Although CLASSIC is sometimes able to provide references for LAC students, CLASSIC’s staff is largely involved in coordination, not qualitative analysis of students. As such, it is typically difficult for CLASSIC to provide more information than whether or not the student attended their scheduled hours on a regular basis.
CLASSIC has two student managers at a time, who work 4 hours per week (paid). The student managers are almost always students with significant experience in the WAC who have demonstrated competence. The work varies, but student managers typically will have leadership roles in training, orientation, and mentoring new volunteers and intensives in the WAC. Student managers may also do community legal information presentations, outreach at community events, and act as a go-between for students and lawyers.
Systemic Initiatives/Systemic Justice Course
CLASSIC is not currently, but has in the past, had students involved with systemic initiatives. Students were either volunteers (typically 2-3 hours per month) or participated in a for-credit course. Unlike the WAC, the systemic course lasted both academic terms, but was only one course. Students were involved in research and writing for systemic initiatives, which involved both community outreach and legal research/writing.
Project ID students work with people who have lost, or otherwise do not have, legal ID. Students meet clients one-on-one and assist them with preparing the necessary documents to get a new ID. Students will typically have met and assisted 30-40 clients over the course of a year.
Community Legal Education (“CLE”)
CLE students give presentations, outlining legal rights and responsibilities, to community members and community-based organizations. Presentations typically involve landlord/tenant issues, policing, and employment law.
CLASSIC often seeks a few student volunteers to work on projects which do not fall into any of the categories listed above. The projects vary substantially, but they are typically research orientated and involve approximately 3 hours per week.