There is no better way to give back to your profession – and the community at large – than by volunteering for one of the Society's pro bono projects. If you are looking for an opportunity to make a difference, you’ve found it here. Before you get started, it is important that you to read our Pro Bono Guidelines
Pro Bono Opportunities:
Pro Bono Ontario Free Legal Advice Hotline
Ontarians are experiencing unprecedented legal needs related to the COVID-19 crisis. Pro Bono Ontario is seeking Ontario lawyers in good standing to volunteer to answer calls on PBO’s Free Legal Advice Hotline and provide summary advice and assistance. Volunteers answer calls from their own homes or offices.
The Hotline helps Ontarians with everyday civil matters, including civil procedure, employment, housing, consumer issues, corporate law for charities, non-profits, and small businesses, and limited estates matters. Volunteers can choose the areas in which they wish to provide assistance.
Volunteers can commit to one or multiple one-day shifts. Each day involves a commitment to be ready for on-boarding at 9:00 am, and to take calls from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm and from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Volunteers receive technical training provided by PBO, real-time IT support, real-time legal support from PBO staff lawyers, and access to a knowledge management library during their shifts, including resources featuring the latest legal information about COVID-19.
If you’re interested, please contact PBO directly:
Pro Bono Ontario/TAS Consumer Protection Initiative
In partnership with Pro Bono Ontario (PBO), TAS members may volunteer to provide pro bono representation for vulnerable consumers who have been targeted by unscrupulous door-to-door vendors. These consumers, many of whom are elderly, face enforcement proceedings relating to contracts that violate the Consumer Protection Act. PBO identifies these cases through its Free Legal Advice Hotline and has developed precedents and materials to help pro bono lawyers efficiently manage these files and achieve just and timely results for vulnerable consumers.
Are you a lawyer called in 2018 or earlier with experience in civil litigation or consumer protection law? If so, we strongly encourage you to fill out the PBO volunteer application at https://www.probonoontario.org/volunteer/apply/ and indicate an interest in the consumer protection panel. If you do not have this experience but you are still interested, please email Matt Cohen at email@example.com.
Duty Counsel for LSO Disciplinary Hearings
Society members make meaningful contributions to the administration of justice by assisting unrepresented lawyers
at Law Society Discipline Committee Hearings. Duty counsel speak to adjournments, help finalize agreed statements of fact, act on consent findings of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming, and speak to penalty.
The program is especially in need of French-speaking volunteers and volunteers with experience in mental health law.
Duty Counsel Training Materials
Volunteer Registration Form/formulaire d'inscription des bénévoles
Ontario Securities Commission Litigation Assistance Program
The Securities Litigation Practice Group started the OSC Litigation Assistance Program (LAP) in 2011 as a pilot project with five volunteer counsel. The pilot was incredibly successful and has been extended and expanded.
The LAP offers volunteer litigation services to unrepresented respondents
appearing in enforcement proceedings before the Ontario Securities Commission. Volunteer counsel assist unrepresented respondents in enforcement cases in four areas:
- Prehearing Conferences
- Settlement Conferences
- Sanction/Costs Hearings
- Certain Motions
Pro Bono Ontario is pausing and re-evaluating the Appeals Assistance Project. We will provide additional information once it is available, or you can look for information on the PBO website
Amicus/Duty Counsel Program
This program allows lawyers to help self-represented litigants with in-person family motions at the Court of Appeal. Volunteers will be scheduled on days when family law motions are expected to be heard and will be provided with filed material in advance, although the amount of time between receipt of the material and the hearing of the motions is likely to be short. Because the scheduling is not entirely predictable, roster volunteers may be asked to be “on call” to respond to family law-related questions on motions.
A Note About the Lawyer/Client Relationship:
When serving in the amicus role, duty counsel lawyers are not entering into a lawyer/client relationship. The essence of the role is to assist the Court and the self-represented litigants appearing before it by ensuring that those litigants are properly heard.
Child Advocacy Project: Education Law Program
Since 2002, The Advocates' Society has been helping safeguard the public education rights of low-income children and youth across Ontario. Through the Child Advocacy Project's (CAP) Education Law Program, our members provide summary advice, verbal and written intervention with school administrators, and representation at hearings and tribunals for children and youth whose legal rights at school are denied. Lawyers involved in this project have handled over 1,000 cases with a success rate of more than 90 per cent.
CAP frequently hears from families in rural and northern communities, where local legal resources are unavailable. For this reason, volunteers are sometimes asked to provide remote legal services, by telephone or Skype. The Advocates' Society endorses remote legal services because, in many cases, they are the only way to ensure that children's rights at school are upheld.
CAP is a volunteer-based legal service run in partnership with Pro Bono Law Ontario, The Advocates' Society (TAS) and Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), the province's only specialty legal clinic for youth under 18.
Volunteers are not required to have prior experience in education law and will benefit from the expert training and ongoing mentoring provided by the staff lawyers at JFCY.
Law Help Ontario
Law Help Ontario is an award-winning project of Pro Bono Ontario that provides pro bono legal services in civil, non-family matters to unrepresented litigants who cannot afford to hire a lawyer and who do not qualify for Legal Aid.
The project currently operates two court-based self-help centres in Toronto and one in Ottawa.
Volunteers have the opportunity to provide brief summary advice and may, on occasion, represent litigants at examinations, settlement conferences, court hearings or other attendances related to their matters.
This project is primarily aimed at junior to intermediate lawyers but there are no experience-based restrictions. Completion of a Continuing Legal Education program and familiarity with the civil process, including the Rules of Civil Procedure, are required. The CLE program can be tailored to ensure it is as convenient as possible for volunteer lawyers.
The time commitment for this project is one full day (or two half days) per quarter from 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.