Photo by:Elle Morris
Ian Mathany (Law '08), Pro Bono Student Co-Coordinator, works with Lindsay Goldenberg (Law '08) of the Family Law Project in the Queen's Law Pro Bono office.
Pro Bono is Latin, meaning "for the public good". This was on the forefront of everyone's minds at the annual Pro Bono Students Canada Program launch held earlier in the fall 2006 term.
"The launch was a great success," said Ian Mathany, Law ‘08, one of the two Student Coordinators of the 2006/07 Student Program at Queen's Faculty of Law. "We had about 120 students and members of the community turn out for it, and I think hearing about Pro Bono and the different ways students can get involved really sparked a lot of interest, especially in the first year class."
The Pro Bono Students Canada program is focused on getting students out into the community in partnership with Non-Profit Organizations that work in an area of law. This year, there are 24 active student projects at Queen's Law. Some of the larger Pro Bono initiatives include the Family Law Project, and the Pro Bono Students Canada Radio Show, a program unique to Queen's Faculty of Law. Those students working with the Pro Bono program are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of areas, from legal research to directly working with members of the community in a legal setting. The newest Pro Bono project at Queen's Law is the Small Claims Court Project, where students are sent to the County Courthouse in Kingston to work with people who do not have legal representation for their small court claim.
"[It] has been a tremendous experience for me," said Danielle Malone, the second Student Coordinator of the Queen's Chapter of Pro Bono. "To me, Pro Bono reflects the commitment of the faculty to social justice and public service in the legal profession. It is rewarding to see so many students so keen to participate and contribute right from the very beginning of their careers."
The guest speaker for the launch was Justice Goudge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. His lecture centered on why Pro Bono should matter to lawyers. "His talk focused on the fact that Pro Bono promotes equal access to justice for all people," explained Mathany. "Justice Goudge impressed upon the students that the fairly recent Pro Bono initiatives have changed the legal culture in Ontario... Now students are coming out of law school demanding that their firms have Pro Bono opportunities for them."
The Pro Bono experience itself is very skill oriented, as it gives students the opportunity to do actual legal work within the community. Under the guidance of experienced lawyers, students can develop initial legal skills like research and public interaction that will benefit them their entire legal careers. "[It's] very rewarding" said Mathany. "Because you are exposed to different organizations with different mandates, you really get to work with a broad group of organizations that have a diverse range of social needs. For me personally, I get to meet and work with a lot of first years who are very excited to take part in their first real legal experience"
For more information on the Queen's Chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada, and how to become involved in the program, please visit their website at http://law.queensu.ca/students/proBonoStudentsCanada.html.