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Law students at Thompson Rivers University launch Pro Bono Students Canada chapter

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 4:13 PM | By Carolyn Gruske

The Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) organization has grown by one chapter.

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) law students launched their public service club and are in the process of recruiting members. The students will volunteer their time and provide free legal research and and information to community organizations in need. This is in keeping with the mandate of PBSC, which has chapters at law schools across the country.

“Pro Bono Students Canada clubs are crucial to be able to help respond to some of the realities of the world today,” TRU law dean Brad Morse said.

Third-year law student Shane Hickey is TRU-PBSC's co-ordinator. He said there are advantages for students who join. By spending between three and five hours per week, they gain practice applying their legal skills and knowledge outside of the law school setting.

“We’re looking for students who are keen on public-interest work and who have a commitment to increasing access to justice,” he said.

Hickey spent the summer working in a position funded by PBSC. He reached out to local organizations to identify their pro bono needs. He also worked with the organizations that were to become TRU-PBSC's partners to create a number of projects for the group.

Hickey will work with third-year student Alejandra Henao, who is also a chapter co-ordinator. Together, they will oversee students and projects and ensure PBSC guidelines and reporting requirements are met.

Pro bono advocate and Grand Forks lawyer Karin Bagn was a guest speaker at the chapter's launch, where she delivered a lecture on the importance of pro bono work.“The things that happen to our children, women and Aboriginal people shouldn’t happen. We have the ability to be a voice,” she said.

Robyn Gifford
of TRU-PBSC sponsor McCarthy Tétrault LLP echoed those sentiments. “As lawyers we have the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. This is an excellent way to apply what you’re learning in law school,” Gifford said, who also happens to be a recent graduate (2016) of TRU Law.

To date, TRU-PBSC has lined up a number of partners, who will work on projects with the pro bono students.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
Project: Blogging, legal research and media monitoring

Organization: CFBX, The "X" Radio Station
Project: Public legal education broadcast

Organization :Kamloops & District Elizabeth Fry Society
Tenancy rights pamphlet and welfare pamphlet

Organization: Legal Services Society (LSS)
Client assistance and legal information

Organization: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (B.C. & Yukon Division)
Client intake and interviews

Organization: New Life Community
Legal research and memo drafting

Organization: Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
Treaty negotiation process memo; International treaty negotiation process memo; Stsmémelt Family Jurisdiction memo

Organization: United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo
Society versus charity pamphlet

Organization: White Buffalo Aboriginal and Metis Health Society
Information package