This year’s Annual Celebration was to recognize the accomplishments made by the many pro bono volunteers and to receive positive feedback from the people who benefit from these pro bono services. It was also an opportunity to thank the PBLA Board, Advisory Board Members and staff for their work that contributed to PBLA’s success.
PBLA presented the Pro Bono Leader In Community Award to Norton Rose Fulbright LLP for their outstanding contributions of the legal community in enhancing greater access to justice for Albertans. Norton Rose participated in three very important pro bono initiatives: Civil Claims Duty Counsel, Queen’s Bench Amicus Project and the annual Legal Grounds Advice Clinic.
PBLA was honored to have Master Hanebury, QC speak at the podium. Master Hanebury spoke of how the Queen’s Bench Amicus Project has greatly improved the efficiency of the court system and visibly eased tensions in Queen’s Bench Chambers.
PBLA was also honored to have a client from the women’s shelter at Discovery House to give a testimonial on the positive impact pro bono services has had on her life. Partnered by PBLA with Discovery House, WK Family Lawyers have been able to empower and enable the client to achieve custody of her children.
All in all, 68 guests attended the AGM including The Honourable Jonathan Denis, QC, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, members of the judiciary, lawyers, law students, pro bono clinic volunteers and other non-profit/pro bono organizations.
The Annual Celebration was an opportunity to recognize PBLA accomplishments this past year, acknowledge the many volunteers who are engaged in pro bono services all over Alberta, and to thank PBLA Board, Advisory Board members and staff for their contributions to the organization’s success.
PBLA presented the 2013 Pro Bono Project Award to two co-winners: Dentons Canada LLP and Miller Thomson LLP, both of which were instrumental in getting the Civil Claims Duty Counsel project off the ground in Edmonton in January 2012.
PBLA welcomed The Honourable Terrence J. Matchett, Chief Judge, Provincial Court of Alberta, as Keynote Speaker on the Program. Closing Remarks were delivered by Phyllis Smith, QC, PBLA Advisory Board Member.
The event was attended by almost 70 guests including members of the judiciary, lawyers, law students, not for profit staff and pro bono clinic staff and volunteers.
Pro Bono Law Alberta celebrated 5 years of creating and promoting pro bono opportunities for Alberta lawyers on June 21, 2012, at the Art Gallery of Calgary.
Highlights of the event included a recap of the projects and partnerships launched by PBLA in 2011-2012, and the presentation of new educational videos that will provide self represented litigants with easy to understand information in the areas of landlord/tenant, civil claims, foreclosure and basic courtroom etiquette and what to expect when going to court.
The videos will be distributed to courthouses, law information centres and other organizations in the summer of 2012. The videos have been created in partnership with Canadian Bar Association Alberta, with support from Alberta Law Libraries, Alberta Law Foundation and Alberta Justice.
In addition to describing the video project, PBLA celebrated the success of its other key initiative in 2011-2012 – the Civil Claims Duty Counsel (CCDC) project. CCDC has operated in the Calgary Court Centre since October 2011, and in the Edmonton Court Centre since January 2012. The CCDC project provides an opportunity for volunteer lawyers and law students to engage with the public and assist in matters at civil claims court. There are currently eight firms involved in Calgary and nine in Edmonton.
Closing remarks were delivered by The Honourable A.H. Lefever, Deputy Chief Judge. Judge Lefever thanked the Law Society of Alberta and Alberta Law Foundation, the primary funders of PBLA, as well as all those who have travelled with PBLA over the past five years. The pro bono community has grown and continues to evolve as more lawyers become engaged in pro bono service.
Guests were given a keepsake ‘timeline’ which outlines the pro bono path and key events on the journey. PBLA looks forward to continuing to work with our pro bono colleagues in creating innovative ways for lawyers to become involved in increasing access to justice for those who have limited resources.