Sunday November 23, 2014

New pro bono clinic opening in North Battleford

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A free legal clinic is opening soon in North Battleford.

Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan announced that starting June 6, a pro bono legal clinic will be open to provide assistance in all areas of law during hour-long appointments.

The office will be in partnership with Catholic Family Services of the Battlefords Inc. It will operate at No. 101, 1272 -101st St. on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

It is not a drop-in clinic, as appointments are required for the service. Those may be scheduled by calling the toll-free line at 1-855-833-PBLS (7257).

That way, potential clients can also find out whether they qualify for the program, as there is income screening to qualify. Pro Bono’s income criteria are described as more generous than Legal Aid as they screen both income and assets.

The North Battleford clinic is one of several pro bono law clinics operated throughout Saskatchewan. Clinics are already in place in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Estevan and Moose Jaw. They have been in operation in the province since 2008 and were looking to expand to meet the demand.

The mandate for Pro Bono Law covers a wide variety of legal areas, including civil law, immigration law, family law, criminal law, wills and estates and other areas.

It tends to be a much broader range of law compared to Legal Aid, whose caseload involves much more criminal law and family law cases.

Last year, Saskatchewan lawyers provided 921 appointments to individuals at the various free legal clinic locations. Currently 214 lawyers are active in Saskatchewan with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan programs.

According to Nicole Sarauer, programs manager with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan, there was a definite need identified or the service.

“We get a lot of calls from North Battleford into our office,” said Sarauer.

Up to now those appointments were set those up through the Regina legal clinic, but the organization has been moving towards bringing more services to communities on a local level across the province.

The plans for a North Battleford office have already attracted interest from lawyers looking to volunteer in the areas of law they feel most comfortable with.

“It’ll be local lawyers from the North Battleford area who’ve agreed to donate their time to the clinic,” said Sarauer.

She adds there is a proud and longstanding tradition in the legal profession in Saskatchewan of offering pro bono services to individuals in need, as part of the profession’s natural duty to the community.

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