Community Partners

Through our program, PBSC law student volunteers are placed with community organizations, where they have the opportunity to enhance their legal skills by providing free legal support to communities in need in Canada. PBSC volunteers have a genuine passion for public interest work, and a commitment assisting our community partners in their work to reduce barriers to justice. If your community organization would benefit from the services of a PBSC law student volunteer, do not hesitate to contact us.

How does PBSC design impactful projects?

PBSC utilizes a proven model for developing impactful projects that leverage PBSC's organizational strengths and law students' passion and energy. Our projects are designed to assist our Priority Communities to access and engage with legal systems. Projects are all legal in nature (not administrative) and are clear and specific, with concrete and pre-defined deliverables.

What can a PBSC student do for my organization?

PBSC deliverables vary depending on the needs of your organization and/or the project you require assistance with. Our students can:

• research pending legislation, legal issues or current policy questions;

• pro-actively monitor pending legislation, legal issues or current policy questions;

• draft policies or manuals for organizations;

• develop and deliver public legal education workshops and seminars; and

• help provide legal information to the clients of partner organizations.

Unfortunately, PBSC volunteers cannot review, update or draft policy manuals and/or by-laws for not-for-profit corporations and charities. PBSC volunteers are also rarely in a position to deliver legal information or draft plain language resources in languages other than French or English. If your project may require students to speak additional languages, this may be specified in the planning phase of the project.

How many hours can a volunteer PBSC student work?

PBSC students commit to working to 3-5 hours per week, beginning in October and ending in March. Students should not be asked to work during the months of December or April due to university examinations.

What are my responsibilities as a PBSC partner organization?

Organizations are responsible for identifying an insured Lawyer Supervisor available to the student(s) over the course of the project, as well as a Project Supervisor if the lawyer is not a staff person of the organization. Project Supervisors are expected to check on progress and commit to communicating any issues that may arise to the Program Coordinators. Lastly, organizations take part in our monitoring process in November and March, and fill our evaluation forms at the end of the year. This information is critical and helps us to continually improve our program and to ensure that our partners are satisfied with all placements.

If you do not have a lawyer working for your organization, we can help you find a qualified lawyer supervisor.

I don’t have appropriate work space for a student. Does the student have to be on-site?

No. Organizations should provide appropriate workspace and resources if possible, but many of our students work remotely since their research does not require them to be on site. That being said, organizations should make efforts to integrate the student(s) into the organization through other means, such as events and trainings, since there will be less face-to-face contact. In light of COVID-19, students will be expected to complete all of their work remotely unless otherwise specified. Students will be responsible for having access to a computer, phone and internet.

What can I expect from PBSC itself?

Once your project has been approved, we commit to providing you with a qualified law student who will volunteer to provide legal services for approximately 3-5 hours per week. If you do not have lawyers on staff, we will assist you if necessary, in finding a qualified lawyer supervisor to supervise your student’s work. Lastly, we monitor all of our students closely and will address any problems or concerns that may arise in a timely manner.

Can I request a student with a particular skill-set (e.g. language requirement, course prerequisite, etc.)?

Yes. You may indicate on the Program Description Form that you would like a student with a particular academic or professional background and we will do our best to accommodate your request. Please indicate if it is preferred or a requirement.

Can I choose my student?

Unfortunately, due to many practical and capacity-related reasons, all recruitment and matching is performed by the U of T Program Coordinators. Students are matched based on their interest and relevant experience, but a separate interviewing process by organizations is impossible due to our firm timelines. If you have any concerns, please contact the Program Coordinators who would be happy to discuss what characteristics you seek in a strong candidate to ensure that you receive a student compatible with your organizational needs.

How do I create a PBSC placement?

If your organization would benefit from a law student volunteer, please contact our Program Coordinators. You may also wish to peruse the following documents which have additional information about PBSC and guide you through the process of creating a PBSC placement.

1. Reference Guide for Partner Organizations.pdf (PDF). This document outlines the roles and responsibilities of PBSC, our students, and your organization.

2. Project Description Form (2020).dotx (Word Doc). This document outlines the structure of a project. 

Please contact us to discuss any new projects prior to filling out a Project Description Form. Organization Supervisors must all sign the Organization Agreement Form, and Lawyer Supervisors must sign the Lawyer Supervision Agreement Form, and submit them to the Program Coordinators.