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Editorial: Pro bono props

Pro Bono Ontario has announced the launch of a new, free corporate law clinic.

This is great news for the profession, because of tangible outcomes for both the lawyers and participants in the new Corporate Law Summary Advice Clinic.

As reported in Law Times, the clinic will operate two evenings a week at PBO’s downtown Toronto office.

Demand from lawyers to be part of the program is anticipated to be high.

“The clinic closes a gap for corporate lawyers, who, until now, have not had the same variety of pro bono opportunities as litigators,” said a Pro Bono Ontario release. “PBO conducts all outreach, intake and eligibility screening prior to giving clients an appointment for summary advice. PBO also provides volunteers with a case history, which contains a summary of the legal issue and copies of any documents that need to be reviewed, at least three days before they are scheduled to attend the clinic.”

Programs like this one can help encourage participation in pro bono work within the busy day-to-day of happenings of corporate law, and mainstream and underscore the value of engaging with the community in a new way.

Firms and companies should support employees who take part.

The program connects lawyers with an opportunity to share their most valuable skills with people who need it most, benefiting both parties.

It can also increase retention of employees burnt out on endless paperwork and drudgery that can be part of life in a large organization by offering valuable chances to connect with real-life people. Many younger lawyers have told me they want to contribute in socially meaningful ways. This is an outlet for that.

The aim of this project is right on point. As many lawyers know, the Latin expression pro bono is short for pro bono publico, or “for the public good.”

Thanks to ideas like this one, the entire profession can have its reputation enhanced — with all lawyers reaping the result.

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