Students' FAQ

What are the benefits of joining PBSC?

As a PBSC student you will gain valuable hands-on practical experience in the workplace through client contact, legal research and writing, or both. Not only do PBSC students receive specialized research training from Thomson Reuters WestlawNext Canada every October, but they also benefit from the mentorship of a lawyer supervisor who oversees their work. Furthermore, a volunteer experience with PBSC is a chance for students to learn from clients, communities and organizations they will be in close contact with. Pursuant to PBSC’s values, students will learn the importance of practicing law with humility, advancing equity in society, and recognizing the dignity of all participants in diverse legal systems within Canada.

I’m an LLM or combined program student (JD/MBA, JD/MSW, etc.). Can I participate?

Absolutely! PBSC invites all students at the Faculty of Law to apply for a placement that suits their interests, even if it is their year "away" from the Faculty of Law. 

What types of projects can I do?

There is a wide variety of legal projects that students can get involved with. While many PBSC partners are long-standing and maintain projects year to year, each summer the Program Coordinator develops new and exciting projects for the upcoming year.

Previous years' projects included:

• Preparing and presenting public legal education and legal information

• Providing assistance to counsel in legal proceedings or administrative hearings

• Researching legal issues and preparing legal memoranda

• Drafting manuals, policy papers, and submissions

• Preparing cases for pro bono lawyers

• Lobbying and advocating on behalf of organizations or clients

• Conducting initial and subsequent client interviews and intake

Where could I be placed?

PBSC constantly strives to fulfill its mandate by expanding the program into areas of law where we have identified communities in need of pro bono legal services.  Check out our Projects to see the fantastic organizations that we work with.

How much time do I have to commit?

Students make a commitment to volunteer for 3-5 hours per week, and to attend two mandatory lunchtime training sessions: a general PBSC training session and a Thomson Reuteurs WestlawNext Canada training session. The dates of these sessions will be communicated in the Fall once students are placed with a partner organization.

Will PBSC interfere with my exams?

No. PBSC placements do not run during December and April. Your PBSC commitment should not get in the way of studying for exams and your academic success. 

What does the typical timeline look like?

Date

Events

Early September

Mid September

Late September

Upper Year Launch Event & Information Session

1L Launch Event & Information Session

Applications Due

Offers for competitive positions are made

Offers for general positions are made

Attend one mandatory General PBSC Training Session (offered on two different dates)

Attend FLP Training if enrolled in the FLP program

Late Sept. - October

Mid October

 

Submit your work plan (if required by your project) and begin work at Placement

Attend one WestlawNext Training Session

TBD

Community Building Event 

December

Complete Mid-Year Evaluation
Break for Exams

January

Placements start again 

March

Complete Project/Final Deliverable by the end of March
Complete Year-End Evaluation
Attend Final Appreciation Event at McCarthy Tétrault LLP Toronto Office

April

Break for Exams

How do I get involved?

If you are applying to a specialized placement, be sure to read the individual project webpage. The online Competitive PBSC Student Application Form is due typically after the first week of classes. This application will consist of submitting a CV and brief cover letter (30 words) for that project. Please direct any questions to the Volunteer Coordinator assigned to the project, where applicable. Please note that you can apply for both the general and specialized placements- if you are selected for a specialized placement, we will remove you from the general application pool.

For all other projects, submit an online General PBSC Student Application Form and a resume to the U of T Program Coordinators by the end of the first week of classes.

If I have questions, can I contact you?

Of course! If you are interested in a project that has a Volunteer Coordinator, contact them directly as they will have the most up-to-date information. If you have general questions about the program, do not hesitate to contact the U of T Program Coordinators.