As the cost of living rises in communities throughout BC (like everywhere in Canada), more and more British Columbians find themselves contending with acute forms of financial strain, housing insecurity, relationship breakdown, and other poverty-rooted hardships. The demand for pro bono and legal aid services has never been higher.
Pro Bono Going Public is Access Pro Bono BC’s big annual service and fundraising event that helps the organization serve as much client demand as possible. The free legal “advice-a-thon” event runs for three weeks (Monday to Friday) from September 5 to 29. Volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice in hour-long shifts over the telephone or in public squares. The main goals of the event are to help several hundred low-income British Columbians overcome their legal problems, to raise public awareness about the widespread availability of pro bono legal services in BC, and to call critical attention to the dismal state of legal aid funding in the province.
The event returns this year to two in-person locations: the Surrey Civic Plaza and the Vancouver Art Gallery, where last year it saw 172 volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice to 457 British Columbians in need. Overall last year, with a $1.6 million operating budget, APB’s twelve staff engaged over 2,500 volunteers and leveraged the provision of over $7 million in pro bono legal services to over 30,000 British Columbians and non-profit organizations of limited means.
This year, APB is building on its successes and seeking the legal profession’s support to: 1) keep its award-winning Everyone Legal Clinic up and building capacity for public interest legal work across the province; and 2) keep its unfunded Virtual Family Mediation Program up and providing free mediation services to low-income families experiencing relationship breakdown. APB will also continue to operate legal advice clinics throughout BC, several BC-wide representation programs, a Wills Clinic for low-income seniors and people suffering from terminal illness, and a BC-wide Lawyer Referral Service.
You can contribute to APB’s efforts to increase access to justice in BC by making a charitable donation in support of one of the 100+ volunteer lawyers participating in Pro Bono Going Public 2023. Large or small, every donation helps the organization to deliver its critical legal services to those in need.