PBSC QUEEN'S INTERVIEW WITH
PBSC QUEEN'S I KATIE LING I PROGRAM COORDINATOR I AUGUST 8, 2016
ON PBSC'S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
Over the past 20 years, PBSC has evolved from a small public interest initiative to a national program that is now well established and highly regarded within the legal profession and across Canada.
PBSC, started as an idealistic project driven by a few individuals, has grown to a national movement. The founders were able to build an extraordinary team committed to promoting access to justice, and the team continues to grow to this day. With the ongoing support of the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) and other funders, PBSC continues to thrive and grow.
ON PBSC QUEEN'S
I am proud of our law school’s long history of involvement with Pro Bono Students Canada. Queen’s Law was one of the first schools to become involved when PBSC expanded nationally, and our students have always been uniquely engaged in the project.
Over the years, many of our graduates have benefitted from the program and I often hear from alumni how much PBSC meant to them as students. Many of our alumni have also been leaders in the Pro Bono movement and remain very supportive of PBSC Queen’s.
ON PRO BONO CULTURE
PBSC encourages law students to think about pro bono work early in their careers. PBSC plants a seed that can go on to bear great fruit as our graduates pursue their legal careers and become distinguished legal professionals.
There is a long tradition of pro bono work in the practice of law. PBSC is doing important work in introducing students to the value of this work early in their education, and emphasizing its significance to the legal profession as a whole.
It is vital that the legal profession remain committed to pro bono activities. Pro bono activities are among some of the most important ways in which the legal profession can contribute to access to justice. It also demonstrates the legal profession’s historic commitment to public service.
ON WHAT PBSC CAN DO FOR STUDENTS
Through active involvement with PBSC, students will acquire a great set of skills. They will start to hone their abilities as legal professionals. They will get a sense of the rewards of serving as a legal professional and helping people with legal problems. They can have an important positive impact on local organizations in the community.
Student volunteers deal with real people, real issues, and real organizations with real challenges. They investigate how the law might assist and help their clients. These are rewarding experiences for our students. Sometimes, the study of law can be abstract – PBSC volunteer work helps to make it concrete.
On a professional level, PBSC gives students access to great networking opportunities. Students will meet a community of legal professionals committed to promoting access to justice and they will get a chance to develop their skills as legal professionals. They will learn from their supervisors, clients, and peers. They will get a better sense of what their career interests might be.
PBSC allows students to get their feet wet, in an environment that is safe and supportive. It allows them to stretch themselves in terms of new opportunities and new challenges, which is how students learn and grow.
ON THE QUEEN'S LAW COMMUNITY
Queen’s Law is special. There is a unique level of engagement from our students. I hear this all the time from our alumni and from law firms. Firms recognize that there is something special about Queen’s Law grads: a willingness to work together and cooperate that they don’t always see in other law students.
When Queen’s Law students work with PBSC, they work with organizations that have a direct impact on the lives and wellbeing of the community in which they live. There is a real sense of connection of the school with the community. The tradition of PBSC at Queen’s Law is a part of the community culture that we value here at the law school.
ON ADVICE TO LAW STUDENTS
First of all, throw yourself into it. Law school is a great experience, and a great privilege. It is a wonderful learning opportunity.
Don’t be shy to try new things. You learn the most when you are outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be too cautious in the challenges you undertake in law school.
Law school is a cornucopia of opportunity. That is why I always encourage students to take advantage of opportunities like PBSC. Get out there, volunteer, and engage with the community. Stretch yourself and develop your skills. These are wonderful opportunities to grow, as a person, and as a legal professional.
Make the most of your time here. Go wherever your curiosity takes you. Be curious and remain curious. Always strive to remain open to new experiences and to learning, throughout law school and beyond.
ON GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LAW SCHOOL EXPERIENCE
I may have been a bit too risk averse as a student. I was a good student, very academically focused. I tended to think that was what I supposed to be doing in law school, and I did that really well. But when I look back on it I realize that there may have been other things I missed by approaching law school with that mindset.
Doing well on your studies is important. Academic success will open doors. I would never suggest otherwise, but there is room for more. Take advantage of these opportunities.
ON THE FIRST FEW MONTHS OF LAW SCHOOL
The first few months of law school are a steep learning curve. Everyone is finding his or her way. Find your bearings first. Don’t feel the need to do everything at once, because it is impossible. But at the same time, start to explore. Talk to upper year students and learn about all of the exciting opportunities around you. Don’t allow your studies to become your complete focus. You are part of a remarkable intellectual community. The limits of this community are the limits of your imagination. I encourage our students to make the most of the experience.
ON THE LEGAL COMMUNITY
The legal community cares deeply about professional values and its commitment to serve the public good. The legal profession has made and will continue to make enormously important contributions to the wellbeing of our society. I am proud to be a part of it.
A MESSAGE FOR THE PBSC QUEEN'S 2016-2017 TEAM
Thank you for all that you do. We are very proud of you, here at the law school. You are continuing a tradition of commitment to pro bono here at Queen’s and nationally. Make the most of this opportunity, for you personally and professionally, but also for the clients whom you serve.
You will acquire a great set of skills and access to a network of legal professionals. You will find an enriching professional opportunity through your engagement with PBSC. And when you go on to pursue your own legal careers, I hope that you will continue your commitment to pro bono services and access to justice.