Justice Pro Bono seeks to support access to justice in Québec by rallying the legal community together around concrete actions that have a real impact on the lives of citizens in the justice system.
Public Interest Causes program
Justice Pro Bono provides free legal services to citizens and non-profit organizations that are in a weak financial position. If their case is founded in law, they will be paired with volunteer lawyers.
Examination of the eligibility of the applications we receive (coming from all over Québec and covering many areas of law) is conducted by our Approval Committee, consisting of 15 volunteers who are members of the Barreau du Québec and who practise in various fields of law. If the committee issues a positive response, Justice Pro Bono sends the request to a lawyer or firm listed in the bank of hours of free legal services.
This program is a lifeline for citizens in the justice system who do not have access to the government’s legal aid program and who are unable to pay for the services of a lawyer.
Justice Pro Bono expresses its enthusiastic thanks to the lawyers who accept cases under this program. We also note that these members of the Barreau du Québec generally come from small or mid-sized firms as well as from individual practice.
Québec’s first medical-legal partnership
The Montréal Children’s Hospital and Justice Pro Bono recognize that children’s health is influenced by many factors, including the environment in which they are born, grow up, go to school and play. According to the World Health Organization, legal issues surrounding some medical problems may also have an impact. And there are times when being ill or having to look after a sick child may lead to violation of basic rights.
Many patients and their families lack the means to pay for the services of a lawyer to help them deal with a problem that may have an impact on the health of a child or that affects their ability to take care of a sick child.
Since January 2017, free legal services from a Justice Pro Bono lawyer are offered inside the hospital to assist low-income families that face not only illness but also an array of legal problems.
- To hospital patients and their families:
- Information, legal counsel and related services
- Referrals to partner law firms upon the lawyer’s recommendation
- To hospital staff:
- Legal workshops
- Legal training
Justice Pro Bono offers its sincere thanks to the Montréal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Law Foundation of Ontario for their generous and vital financial support.
Free legal consultations in partnership with Médecins du Monde
During 2017, Justice Pro Bono was approached by Médecins du Monde, which wanted to set up a legal clinic to provide answers to questions from migrants with insecure status who have been met by the organization.
Médecins du Monde works among migrants lacking secure status and medical coverage through a frontline medical clinic enabling these people to be met by various helpers (a social worker, a nurse and, if necessary, a volunteer doctor).
However, needs also existed in the legal field to inform them and advise them on immigration matters (applications for refugee status, sponsorships, application for permanent residence for humanitarian reasons, etc.).
This is why Justice Pro Bono agreed to work with this organization to find volunteer lawyers specializing in immigration law who agree to come once a week and meet migrants with insecure status.
The clinic is held on Thursday afternoons at the Médecins du Monde premises.
Justice Pro Bono offers its sincere thanks to the lawyers who have agreed to become involved on a volunteer basis with this project.
Volunteer legal clinic in Kuujjuaq
Access to justice in Québec’s Far North is an everyday challenge for Indigenous communities. Concerned by this reality and driven by a desire to make a tangible contribution, Justice Pro Bono established a pop-up legal clinic at the Nayumivik Centre in Kuujjuaq.
Four lawyers and a notary were selected from among the many applications received following an appeal issued by Justice Pro Bono in the legal community. They took a trip to Kuujjuaq from March 27 to 29, 2017, to provide services in various fields of law (criminal, family, youth protection, succession). A total of 60 women took advantage of their services, in addition to the legal information sessions provided to workers at the Ungava Tulattavik Health Centre.
The experience was highly appreciated, so much so that it was repeated in January 2018.
Justice Pro Bono thanks the Barreau du Québec, the Chambre des notaires, the Ministère de la Justice du Québec, the Makivik Corporation and the Kativik Regional Administration for their generous financial and logistical support.
Developed by Justice Pro Bono, Boussole juridique is a search tool for free or low-cost legal resources available in Québec.
When faced with legal matters, citizens who lack the means to pay for the advice of a lawyer in private practice can turn to community or government legal resources to find the information, support and guidance necessary for them to proceed.
However, this requires an awareness of the available resources suited to their situation.
Up to now, there has been no inventory of free or low-cost legal services in Québec. In light of this, we came up with the idea of creating an accessible, user-friendly and easy-to-understand search engine to help guide citizens as well as those assisting them.
The website currently lists about 400 legal references.
Training and guidance for newcomers
Starting in the spring of 2016, with the large influx of people of Syrian origin to Québec, Justice Pro Bono sought to help facilitate their arrival. Referring to the conclusions of a report titled “Réfugiés : dignité, immigration et intégration” (Refugees: dignity, immigration and integration) by students at HEC Montréal, Pro Bono Québec established information sessions provided at aid and reception organizations in all regions of Québec.
Thanks to numerous volunteer women lawyers, most of them specializing in immigration, labour or family law, we can go to meet newcomers and respond to their legal concerns. These talks are tailored to meet the needs of organizations helping newcomers.
Justice Pro Bono warmly thanks CN and the Barreau du Québec for their financial contribution to the project.
Gate 33: A new project for better access to family justice in the Laurentians
Referring to Article 33 of Quebec’s Civil Code, the project aims to offer legal and psychosocial resources, focusing on the child’s best interests, to families experiencing a separation. The project’s objective is twofold: to improve access to family justice and to mitigate the impact of separation in the child’s life.
Gate 33 has three components:
1. A mobile legal clinic
Volunteer lawyers are providing legal information in family law, on an individual basis, as well as useful information to understand how to accompany a child through a separation. These clinics were offered in various Family organizations in the Laurentians region in the fall 2018 and winter 2019 and more will be available in fall 2019. More information to come.
To make an appointment call: 514-904-1076 ext. 603
2. Training for lawyers (in French)
On October 16, 2018, The Social-Legal Partnership during a Separation: Ally in the Best Interests of the Child training course was held. This training was aiming at preparing the lawyers who will participate in the itinerant clinic. In return for six (6) hours of continuing education, the lawyers committed to offering three (3) hours of pro bono work in the mobile clinic.
On May 1, 2019, the training entitled The dynamics of separation and children’s needs was held. This training was intended to equip the lawyers and notaries participating in the clinic and to provide them with strategies for implementing promising social-legal partnerships. The state of psychosocial research on the needs of children of separated parents and their families was discussed.
Training recognized by the Barreau du Québec for the purposes of mandatory continuing education, for a duration of three (3) hours.
For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. A website
Details to come
This project is made possible thanks to the financial contribution of the Law Foundation of Ontario and the support of our valuable partners: Regroupement des organismes communautaires Famille autonomes des Laurentides and the Laurentides-Lanaudière legal community centre.