In April 2018, the UBC Chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) received the Helen McCrae Award from the UBC Office of the Vice-President, Students. This annual student development award recognizes “exceptional contributions and significant improvements to the student experience and learning environment at UBC.” The Helen McCrae award recognizes a student program that shows commitment to the community, in honour of Helen McCrae, a former UBC professor of Social Work and Dean of Women who dedicated her career to increasing educational opportunities for women and children.
PBSC is a program operated at 22 law schools across the country, which provides pro bono legal assistance to organizations and individuals, while giving law students hands-on legal experience in client intake and advocacy, research and drafting, public legal education, and litigation support. The UBC Chapter of PBSC matches Allard School of Law students with supervising lawyers and organizations in vulnerable communities in need of legal services in the areas of family law, criminal law, environmental law, poverty law, immigration law, Aboriginal law, and women’s rights. To combat barriers to the legal system and issues with access to justice, this student program aims to instill a culture of pro bono legal service in future lawyers during their time at law school.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, the UBC Chapter of PBSC was led by students coordinators Charlotte Baigent and Catherine Wang. Ms. Baigent and Ms. Wang, with the support of staff and faculty, placed 88 law students with 34 community organizations, leading to contributions in 44 different projects and between 5,220 and 8,700 hours of volunteer service.