CELEBRATING 20 YEARS
“As PBSC has grown, our emphasis has increasingly been on placements that provide student interaction with clients, and assist individual clients in their everyday lives.”
PBSC QUEEN'S INTERVIEW WITH
PBSC QUEEN'S I KATIE LING I PROGRAM COORDINATOR I AUGUST 8, 2016
ON PBSC'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
I’m very proud of what PBSC has managed to achieve over the last 20 years. We've grown from a small program operating at one law school, to a large national organization with chapters in almost every law school in Canada. PBSC has a wide reach across the country when it comes to training law students to deliver legal services. The scale of the operation, our reputation, and the impact we have on access to justice has increased significantly over the last 20 years.
As PBSC has grown, our emphasis has increasingly been on placements that provide student interaction with clients, and assist individual clients in their everyday lives. These projects train law students for practice, while giving them the opportunity to deliver concrete and vital legal services to low-income individuals.
ON MY INVOLVEMENT WITH PBSC
I volunteered for PBSC during my first year of law school. I went on to practice family law, and then joined the U of T Faculty of Law as the Executive Director of the Dean’s Office. All along the way I had an interest in social justice and a commitment to equity issues. When the PBSC position became vacant, it was therefore a natural fit for me.
Serving as the National Director of PBSC is my dream job. I’m so grateful and lucky for the opportunity to work toward increasing access to justice every day.
During my time at PBSC I’ve made many efforts to professionalize the program. My goal has been to ensure students are exposed to structured, meaningful volunteer opportunities. It’s important students recognize that clients are counting on them, and therefore that the commitment they’re making as part of their placements is a serious, professional one. We can’t let our clients down.
ON THE MOST REWARDING PART OF WORKING WITH PBSC
My work with PBSC is extremely gratifying: intellectually, professionally, morally. I enjoy developing innovative and impactful programs that can fill some of the gaps in the access to justice crisis. I also really enjoy working with law students, learning from them, supporting them, and watching their careers develop and thrive in the profession. There’s something incredibly inspiring about working with young people who are committed to using their legal skills to try to make their world a better place.
ON THE LEGAL COMMUNITY
As the National Director of PBSC, I’ve seen an enormous amount of goodwill in the legal community. I’ve met countless lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals who are truly committed to Pro Bono and to supporting this work. Generally speaking, lawyers are eager and willing to engage in community services. Many went to law school to give back. Creating organized Pro Bono opportunities makes it easy for lawyers to do what they instinctively want to do. If you can make it easy for lawyers to participate in PBSC and other public interest work, most of them will happily help.
ON ADVICE TO LAW STUDENTS
My advice to law students is to always follow your instincts. The best thing you can do is follow your heart and not worry about what others are doing. There is no one path to pursuing a public interest career. Remember that when you make a decision about your career, even if it feels like one door is closing, other doors are opening at same time. Wherever you land, continue to be thoughtful about what you want.
The truth is, it’s very difficult to develop a clear career path in the public interest world because so few positions are available. You have to accept that the path may not be linear. Be zen about your career trajectory, whatever path it takes. Recognize that wherever you are in the moment, it can lead to something very fulfilling and meaningful. Over the years I’ve made decisions that have shut some doors, but opened many others.