Volunteering with ECLC Provides an Opportunity to Benefit the Access to Justice Cause

Here are a few reasons among many why it is rewarding to volunteer with ECLC.

Like most Canadians, lawyers come home from work on some days feeling spent, underappreciated, and ready to rest. Why would I suggest that you stop by the ECLC to volunteer for an evening or afternoon clinic before heading home? Here are a few of my reasons.

 The staff and volunteers are exceptional

Before you meet with clients, they have been processed and prepared by a team of very hard working staff and volunteers who are kind, professional, and just wonderfully pleasant people. They will provide you clear notes on the facts and legal issues and deliver the client to the meeting room in a way that ensures your encounter is smooth and meaningful as possible.  I can’t stress enough how the team at ECLC is top notch and has been for many years.

The services you provide to your clients really matter

We all know the barriers for those with limited financial means when it comes to the legal system. The clients are often struggling with difficult legal problems and they are very appreciative when they receive legal assistance and support.

The ECLC provides facilities and resources for all volunteer lawyers to help provide clients the legal help that they need.

You don’t have to be an expert on every legal question to really help clients

Many lawyers with highly specialized practices may not be comfortable advising on areas of law that are not familiar to them. They may wonder what they can provide a client who is facing eviction, has serious debt issues, or is navigating the complicated process of probating a will. The answer is surprisingly simple. Lawyers know how to read legislation, access court and tribunal documents, and focus on relevant legal issues. My point is whatever your background you can make a difference in the life of a client.

It reminds me of why I went to law school

I smile when I look back on the various experiences I have had with ECLC clients. The time a large group of migrant workers fit tightly in the small ECLC room so we could discuss their human rights claim; the expectant mother and father who couldn’t imagine bringing their baby into an apartment with bed bugs, or the seniors who need legal assistance so they may be treated with the dignity and respect that our society owes them.

In conclusion, I will admit that I sometimes arrive at the clinic after a hard day of work already feeling spent. However, I have always left with a raised sense of satisfaction and completion to the day. I suspect we all want to really help and improve the community we live in. It is hard to find a place that truly gives us that opportunity. The ECLC allows volunteers to make that difference.

ECLC offers the free legal clinics for low-income Edmontonians four nights a week, all year long. Other ways of volunteering are the Advice-A-Thon event, a yearly initiative where participating lawyers fundraise and give one hour of legal advice in tents at Churchill Square to the general public.

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About Jeff Bone

Jeff Bone is legal counsel with Enbridge Pipelines Inc. He is also a business law instructor at the University of Alberta, School of Business and a volunteer with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre.
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