Access Pro Bono

Access Pro Bono

By: Jeff Anthony
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Access Pro Bono is a society that promotes access to justice in BC by providing and fostering quality legal services, free of charge, to people and non-profit organizations of limited means. I spoke with Annie Baric, who is the Operations Coordinator, at Access Pro-Bono and we discussed the importance of the society and how volunteers can positively impact the society and help people in great need.

Access Pro Bono is an accessible and easy way for people and organizations to attain legal service and advice. There are about 800 lawyers that provide their expertise and service to the society with many non-legal volunteers that help run the society. Annie mentioned that many volunteers, particularly administration students, donate their time to man the “Client Line” and assist the people with enquiries and provide them with information on who to contact for legal advice.

Annie mentioned in 2012, the society assisted 7000 clients province-wide, including non-profit organizations. That equates to 6,700 billable hours ($2.36 million in legal fees).

Annie’s goal with Access Pro Bono is to raise awareness of the society to the general public and show how much of a need the services they provide to many lower and middle income families is critical. Annie feels a special type of reward when the society is able to help and support anyone who feel they have no where left to turn when there are faced with an unfair legal problem, such as that single mother that may be unnecessarily evicted.

There are many opportunities in the society, not just for legal students, but if there are people that would like to get into administration, fund-raising and event planning.  International volunteers have been particularly beneficial. Some join to improve their English and be better able to interact with others, but also offer assistance to volunteers when dealing with a cultural or language gap.

Annie thinks its important students get involved in volunteering at some capacity. Not only is it a great way to give back to the community that supports them, she feels it is a great way to meet new people, build your network, gain and experience and discover new opportunities. Show your skill set; get a job.

Jeff Anthony is an SFU graduate in Liberal and Business Studies and is working hard to enter the human resources field.

Posted on April 22, 2013