Pro Bono - with Chinese version

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Civil society & citizenship, Legal literacy, Social justice
Bilingual article

By: Jimmy Yan (2014)
Project and Information Officer
Access Pro Bono Society of BC



            Pro bono is the shorthand of a Latin phrase, pro bono publico, which means for the betterment of the public.  When this ancient term is placed in the modern legal context, pro bono legal services are defined as “the practice of law not performed for or in the expectation of a fee, gain or reward” (the Law Society of BC, 2012). In association with more self-represented litigants and more court delays, nowadays pro bono has gained quite a bit popularity.

According to the Canadian Bar Association’s Reaching Equal Justice Report: An invitation to Envision and Act report published in December 2013, “one of the greatest pressures on civil courts” (p.83) in North America is the substantial increase of self-represented litigants. They now “represent a full quarter of all leave applications [to the Supreme Court of Canada], up from 18 per cent in 2000” (White, 2011, p. 20).  In addition, on criminal or family law matters, fewer people are now financially eligible for the free legal aid service provided by the state across Canada. A stark consequence for more self-represented litigants, unfortunately, is the excessive “delays in the legal system when claimants lack adequate preparation” (CBA, 2013, p.72).

To meet the ever-growing demand of improving access to justice, formal pro bono organizations have been founded in five provinces in Canada and they now “play an important role in promoting voluntary [legal] services” (Canadian Bar Association, 2013, p.40).  Access Pro Bono Society of BC is one of the largest pro bono organizations in Canada with a mission to promote access to justice in BC by providing and fostering quality pro bono legal services for people and non-profit organizations of limited means.

Pro bono legal consultation is provided by 2,008 enrolled lawyers or paralegals free of charge through 103 community organizations in the Province. Each client is allowed a maximum of two pending lawyer appointments, each of which is thirty minutes long. Access Pro Bono has one volunteer Clinic Assistant for each clinic location to assist pro bono lawyers and clients.  It is ensured the law area of every client’s inquiry always matches with the lawyer’s areas of practice.  In 2013, 308 new lawyers joined Access Pro Bono and 6,398 individual clients or non-profit organizations are provided with free legal services.  In total, Access Pro Bono lawyers contributed 7,093 service hours, which is equivalent to approximately $2.2 million market value of pro bono legal services, to the public.







是拉丁语pro bono publico的简写,其字面的翻译就是为了公众谋好处。当这个古老的词放在现代的法律语境中,公益法律服务是指“不期望获得收费,获利或者回报的法律服务”(卑诗法律社团,2012)。在自我代表诉讼当事人(self-represented litigants)增多和法庭处理滞缓的今天,Pro bono (公益法律)也相应获得了更广泛的认可。

根据加拿大律师协会2013年12月出版的《获得公平正义报告:一份远瞻和行动的邀请》报告,在北美目前”民事法庭受到的最大压力“(p.83)来源于显著增加的自我代表诉讼当事人。他们目前占到“加拿大最高法院上诉申请的四分之一(2000年时的比例时18%)”(怀特, 2011, p.20)。此外在刑事和家庭法方面,纵观加拿大,越来越少的人能够在收入上满足由政府提供的免费法律援助的条件。很遗憾,自我代表诉讼当事人日益增加的一个直接结果就是”由于索赔人(claimants)缺少充分的准备而导致司法系统拖沓”(加拿大律师协会, 2013, p.72)。

为了应对增高的对社会正义的需求,正式的公益法律组织在加拿大的五个省成立了起来,他们目前“在提供义务法律服务领域扮演着重要的角色”(加拿大律师协会, 2013, p.40)。Access Pro Bono Society of BC同她的前身Access Justice就是加拿大最大的公益法律组织之一。其组织任务就是在卑诗省倡导社会正义并加强对缺少资源的个人或非牟利机构提供高质量的公益法律服务。

Access Pro Bono 的法律咨询由旗下2008名律师和法务助理通过省内的103个社区服务机构免费提供。每一个客户可以获得不超过2个的义诊预约机会。Access Pro Bono 对每一个义诊站都配有一名“义诊助理”义工来协助律师的工作以及客户的需求。预约的时候,客户的需求总是和律师的专长相匹配。2013年全年,308名律师新加入了我们的团队,6398名个人或机构客户通过我们获得了免费法律服务。Access Pro Bono 的律师总共贡献了7093个法律服务小时,折合成市场价格,这相当于二百二十万加元的社会服务捐献。