The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 3, June 2010

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The Power of Pro Bono: Stepping Up

By Kevin Feth, Vice-President, Pro Bono Law Alberta and Bencher, Law Society of Alberta

An exchange of ideas and knowledge on pro bono legal service partnerships in North America and abroad will be the highlight of another unforgettable national pro bono conference.

The featured keynote speaker at the National Pro Bono Conference Banquet and Awards Ceremony will be Mr. Stephen Lewis. Mr. Lewis is a Professor in Global Health in the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University and is the former UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Legal practitioners, volunteers and members of the judiciary and academia will have the opportunity share success stories and best practices in pro bono services when they meet in Calgary, Alberta on September 16 and 17, 2010. This third annual national conference, themed “The Power of Pro Bono: Stepping Up”, will provide a forum for participants to forge new partnerships and explore challenging issues that lie ahead in the pro bono world.

The program for the Conference will include such topics as:

  • Making the Business Case for Pro Bono;
  • Strategic Planning and Funding Challenges;
  • Creating Partnerships;
  • Technology in Pro Bono Service Delivery;
  • Volunteer Recruitment/Engaging Young Lawyers; and
  • Limited Scope Retainer Information and Training among others.

The National Pro Bono Conference Banquet and Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 16, 2010, and will feature the key note speaker Mr. Stephen Lewis.

All events will take place at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel in Calgary, Alberta. Special conference events include a welcome reception for delegates, speakers and special guests on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 prior to the official opening of the conference.

Registration for the Conference and hotel is now open at Over the coming months the website will be updated with speaker biographies, program outlines, and other details, so check back regularly for the most current information about this exciting conference.

This national conference is be hosted by Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA) in partnership with Access Pro Bono of British Columbia, Pro Bono Law Ontario, Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan and Pro Bono Quebec.

Shine a Spotlight on Outstanding Pro Bono Service

The national Pro Bono Awards is an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize an outstanding individual or organization for excellence in pro bono service by making a nomination.

If you know a deserving nominee, please take the opportunity to submit a nomination and help to recognize the contributions of lawyers and organizations to improving access to justice in Canada. Nominations are being accepted for pro bono contributions in the following three categories:

  1. Canadian National Pro Bono Law Firm Award – This award recognizes a Canadian law firm that has made an outstanding contribution to the provision of pro bono legal services.
  2. Canadian National Pro Bono Distinguished Service Award – This award recognizes an individual Canadian lawyer who has made an outstanding contribution to the provision of pro bono legal services.
  3. Canadian National Pro Bono Program Award – This award recognizes a specific Canadian pro bono program which increases access to legal services for people of limited means.

Awards criteria and nomination forms are posted at The deadline to submit nominations to the Pro Bono Law Alberta office is June 18, 2010. Recipients will be honoured on Thursday, September 16, 2010 at the National Pro Bono Conference Awards Banquet.

New Partnership Formed with Boyle McCauley Health Centre

Pro Bono Law Alberta (PBLA) has brokered a new partnership between the Boyle McCauley Health Centre – Pathways to Housing Program and Field LLP.

As the first major PBLA project in Edmonton, the “Pathways Pro Bono Project, Edmonton” is a commitment by the Edmonton office of Field LLP to provide legal support and services at no cost to the Pathways to Housing Program. The program assists high-risk homeless individuals suffering from mental illness and addictions by placing them in their own apartments supported by a multidisciplinary service team. The program provides health, psychological/psychiatric, vocational, life skills, and family assistance so that individuals who have lived on the streets for years may re-integrate into the community.

The partnership was announced on April 29, 2010 in Edmonton and builds on the initiatives identified by PBLA at the Edmonton and Calgary Managing Partners meetings earlier this year.

At the partnership announcement, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel applauded Field LLP for its commitment to this initiative and stated that this new partnership will be a vitally important link in making sure the housing-first model is successful.

Pathways to Housing has been operational in Edmonton since August 2009 and clients have been accepted into the program since November 2009. Demand for services continues to grow, and the brokering of a new Innovative Legal Partnership will assist the Boyle McCauley Health Centre in contributing to the goal of ending homelessness in Edmonton.

Managing Partners’ Meeting in Calgary

Following a successful Managing Partners’ meeting held in Edmonton earlier this year, PBLA met with Calgary Managing Partners at the Calgary Petroleum Club on March 4th, 2010. The meeting generated discussion about the need and potential for the organized delivery of pro bono legal services, the benefits to law firms in having pro bono policies and projects, and the value to Calgary firms of the upcoming national pro bono conference.

Brent Rentiers of Davis LLP spoke about his firm’s involvement and his personal experience with The Alex Pathways to Housing Pro Bono Project. The executive director of the Alex, Shelley Heartwell, expressed her appreciation for the legal assistance that lawyers with Davis LLP are providing to the Alex Pathways to Housing Pro Bono Project, and encouraged other law firms to consider becoming involved with PBLA and future projects.

New Lawyer Recruitment Initiatives

“Raising the Pro Bono Bar” celebrations have been held in Lethbridge, Grande Prairie and Central Alberta this spring, recognizing the achievements of local lawyers, and building profile for the province’s regional pro bono clinics.

Hosted by PBLA and CBA – Alberta, the goal of these events is to increase the number of lawyers involved in pro bono service by providing information about the pro bono volunteer opportunities available in each community and recognizing the professional leadership of the lawyers currently volunteering their time in the clinics.

Events were held in:

  • Lethbridge on April 15, 2010
  • Grande Prairie on April 22, 2010, and
  • Red Deer on May 20, 2010.

Congratulations are extended to the following Volunteer of the Year Award recipients, who were honoured at the Lethbridge and Grande Prairie events:

  • Jesse Wilde of Huckvale Wilde Harvie MacLennan LLP
  • Mike Hussey of Kay McVey Smith & Carlstrom LLP.

Luke Karata of Red Deer was awarded the Prism Award at Central Alberta Community Legal Centre’s celebration in October 2009.

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