Jean Chrétien ‘flips his wig’ to highlight access to justice

Jean Chrétien has lent his name and experience as an ambassador to the second annual Flip Your Wig for Justice campaign, which seeks to improve access to lawyers and the justice system for the disadvantaged or marginalized.

The former prime minister joined wig-wearing members of his law firm, Dentons, to raise awareness for the campaign. Lawyers and other members of the legal community are being encouraged to wear the decidedly non-traditional legal wigs to increase awareness of the problems of access to justice and, through sponsorships, raise money for six Ontario-based organizations that are working to find solutions, including Pro Bono Students Canada.

Flip Your Wig for Justice also encourages legal professionals to get involved in pro bono work and to educate the public about how the legal system works.

Visit the Ottawa Citizen for the full article and interview with Chrétien.

2015-2016 PBSC UVic Program Coordinator Positions

Pro Bono Students Canada (“PBSC”) is looking for two students to run the University of Victoria Chapter.  PBSC is a national organization with a chapter in every law school in the country. We are the only national pro bono program in the country. PBSC’s mandate is to provide early, practical learning experiences for law students and high-quality volunteer legal services for our community partners, and to promote the value of pro bono lawyering among the next generation of law students.

At each law school, PBSC hires two law student leaders to serve as the Program Coordinators responsible for implementing and managing PBSC programs.  PBSC UVic Program Coordinators take on a great deal of responsibility and develop an important skill set that is transferable to legal practice.  One student is selected to work full-time over the summer months and will continue part-time over the school year running PBSC programs.  A second Program Coordinator will join PBSC in September, and continue to work part-time until the end of the school year.

A position with PBSC is an excellent opportunity to develop leadership, negotiation, administration, and management skills in a legal context. In addition, Program Coordinators are able and expected to network with lawyers, public interest leaders, faculty members and students in Victoria and across Canada.

(Note: Previous experience volunteering with PBSC is not a requirement)

Please see attached for more information:

PBSC UVic School-Year Program Coordinator

PBSC UVic SUMMER & School-Year Program Coordinator

Upcoming PBSC Executive Meeting

We would like to invite all current PBSC volunteers to participate in our second PBSC Executive Meeting on Monday, January 19 from 12:00-1:00 PM in Room 157.

Please feel free to drop in late or leave early, as it will be a casual meeting focused on planning for this semester. In particular, we would like your input on our upcoming Community Building Event “Pro Bono in Practice.” You will also have the opportunity to give feedback on your project or raise more general questions in a casual setting. Finally, there will be candy for all!

Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella visits the UVic Faculty of Law

3010142001The University of Victoria Chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) hosted Madam Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella on Thursday, October 30, for an engaging, touching, and at times hilarious, discussion moderated by Dean Jeremy Webber of the Faculty of Law. After introductory speeches from UVic’s PBSC Program Coordinators, Kayleigh Harrison and Victoria Merritt, and Emily MacKinnon of McCarthy Tetrault’s Vancouver office, Justice Abella entertained a packed lecture hall for over an hour with a range of inspirational anecdotes from her nearly 40 years as a jurist. An ardent proponent of human rights, Justice Abella spoke of narrowing the gap between the ideal and the reality of justice in Canada. Her take-home message to the hundreds of law students in attendance was that the legal profession is only as good as they will make it.

3010142014Justice Abella’s narrative began with a tale of Dean Webber’s apparent infinite youth, before shifting to the moving story of her decision to pursue a career in law. She told of her family settling in Canada after WWII, only for her father to be denied entry to the Law Society due to its Canadian citizenship requirement. In an interesting twist of fate, her own Royal Commission on Equality in Employment would first be cited in a judgment1 that held a denial of admission to a provincial bar, on the basis of non-citizenship, was in violation of s. 15 of the Charter.

With regard to her extensive CV, Justice Abella commented that she had never been looking for experience; rather, she just “never said no when [she] had the opportunity to get it.” Then, touching on the legal profession’s aversion to change, Justice Abella quipped that she had always seen the status quo as merely the “beginning of a conversation.”

3010142027Towards the end of the event, Justice Abella thanked McCarthy Tetrault for their work with PBSC. Reminiscing on the interesting twists and turns her life and career took, beginning with her birth in Germany, to her sitting as the most senior Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court by the end of this year, the Madam Justice concluded the event by commenting: “Canada – what a country, for that to happen.”

By John Bullock, PBSC Media and Promotions Officer

[1] Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 SCR 143

2014-15 Projects List and Application!

Hello UVic Law!

Please find attached our list of 2014-15 project placements. We have worked hard over the summer to bring you a unique mix of different areas of law, with exciting, much-needed work for you to provide to some absolutely amazing local and national organizations.

We have included some information on the project list regarding changes to the program for 2014-15. These include the creation of more upper-year-specific projects, the implementation of Volunteer Coordinator positions for upper-year students which offer unique networking opportunities,  and the establishment of a PBSC-UVic Executive. 1Ls, don’t think we forgot about you, though! Our program cannot run without first-year volunteers, and we typically place a lot of you – so be sure to apply and build those resumes!

If you are interested in applying, you will also find the application form below. Please note that hard copy applications are due no later than 4:00pm on Tuesday, September 23rd (a dropbox will be set up). We will not be accepting applications by email. Also, please be aware that it is a PBSC national policy that we do not hold interviews, so please use the application form to tell us as much about yourself as possible!

If you have any questions about the projects, the application form, or PBSC in general, please do not hesitate to ask. You can contact us at, on Facebook, or in person at Clubs Day or our Info Session on September 15th.

Thanks everyone! We think it’s going to be a great year at PBSC-UVic!

Kayleigh & Victoria

PBSC 2014-15 Projects

Student Application PBSC 2014-15 Projects

Canadian Civil Liberties Association Rights Watch Blog Project

ccla_logoApplications are now being accepted for our multi-chapter Rights Watch Blog Project with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association!

About the CCLA and the RightsWatch Blog Project:

The CCLA is a national organization constituted to promote respect for and observance of fundamental human rights and civil liberties, and to defend, extend, and foster recognition of these rights and liberties. The Rights Watch Blog ( provides an exciting and important opportunity to post on current issues in this area.

The purpose of this project is to research civil liberties issues and abuses as they are taking place in the community and to update the CCLA’s RightsWatch blog site with timely information through blog posts. Volunteers will be supervised by the CCLA and will be monitored by their PBSC chapter coordinator. Students are expected to monitor civil liberties issues on a regular basis (approx. 3-5 hours per week as per PBSC guidelines) and post an item of factual information on an issue they have identified to the blog once a week. Student volunteers do not have to agree with, or reflect, CCLA’s stance on issues to participate in this project.

Volunteers selected for this project will attend the Rights Watch conference in Toronto on September 20th, 2014 (travel costs, registration and two nights accommodation are funded by the CCLA, and some meals are provided). Selected students will also be required to attend the PBSC-UVic general training and Westlaw LRW training in the fall.

How to apply:

This year’s deadline for applying for a CCLA Rights Watch Blog volunteer position is July 14th, 2014. Applications should include a resumé and a cover letter indicating why you are interested in the position. Ideal applicants will be upper year students who are self-motivated, engaged with current events and/or politics and enjoy writing (including opinion pieces). Interest and/or experience in constitutional, Charter and human rights issues is also an asset. Up to 2 students will be recruited from each PBSC chapter. All applications should be sent to Best of luck to all of our UVic applicants!

Important Dates Fall 2013

  • PBSC at Clubs Day – September 12th, 12:00-1:30pm
  • PBSC Information Session – September 16th, 12:00-1:00pm, Rm 157
  • Student Applications Due – September 25th
  • Bridging the Justice Gap: A Panel Discussion on Access to Justice– September 25th, 12:00-1:30pm, Rm 158
  • Mandatory PBSC Training for Volunteers – October 1st, 12:30-1:30pm, Rm 158
  • Mandatory WestLaw Research Training for Volunteers – October 21st, 12:00-1:30pm, Rm 152