The Advisory: Volume 9, Issue 2, August 2011

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Slave Lake Fire: Volunteers from Legal Community Sought

By Dale Spackman, QC, Bencher and Director, Pro Bono Law Alberta

VOLUNTEER LAWYERS are needed to help the Slave Lake community affected by the forest fire in May 2011. The fire has come and gone; now the rebuilding and putting people’s lives back together begins.

Key players in the provision of access to justice in Alberta have responded to this natural disaster by partnering to provide direct relief services to those affected by the Slave Lake wildfire.

In addition to a toll free hotline which is being established, legal information sessions, frequently asked questions and other public legal education materials are being offered as additional resources. Areas of law in which legal support is being provided include: insurance, tenancy, debt/credit, employment and family law.

Pro Bono Law Alberta, Legal Aid Alberta, Canadian Bar Association – Alberta and the Alberta Lawyers Assistance Society, have formed a partnership to respond to the emerging legal needs of Slave Lake residents. This collaboration is fully supported by the Law Society of Alberta.

Support is being provided from all means of communication: by phone, in-person and the internet. An information session was held July 26 and 27 in Slave Lake and frequently asked questions have been developed on Employment and Landlord/Tenancy for this meeting and others. As well, four lawyers have volunteered to travel to Slave Lake to make presentations on this and other legal issues and to answer questions from the audience.

Legal assistance is being provided by telephone or through videoconferencing.

The hotline itself will be a key resource that Slave Lake and area residents can expect to rely on. Open Monday to Friday, from 8:30am to 4:30pm, the Slave Lake Fire Legal Hotline will offer free legal information. The hotline is being operated by Legal Aid Alberta and can be reached toll free at 1-888-644-8950.

Please consider volunteering for this worthwhile initiative through the Volunteer Lawyer Services program operated by Pro Bono Law Alberta. The support of the Alberta legal community is needed to help these individuals affected by the disaster.

Additional information can be found at or

Volunteer Lawyer Services Expansion

Work continues on the expansion of Volunteer Lawyer Services. In addition to continuing to assist not-for-profit groups with their legal concerns, the program will now assist individuals through a referral process from Legal Aid Alberta and the pro bono clinics (Calgary Legal Guidance, Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic, Edmonton Community Legal Centre, Grande Prairie Legal Guidance, Lethbridge Legal Guidance).

The Law Society encourages all lawyers in Alberta to consider joining the program. For more information on the program, please email

Raising the Pro Bono Bar Events for 2011

Pro Bono Law Alberta and CBA Alberta co-hosted Raising the Pro Bono Bar events in both Lethbridge and Grande Prairie on April 28 and May 5th respectively.

The purpose of this event was to introduce new lawyers and articling students to the volunteer opportunities which exist with pro bono clinics and organizations throughout Alberta. It also enables new lawyers and articling students to network with each other and meet others in the legal profession who are engaged in pro bono service delivery.

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