Sep 14, 2012 / 5:00 am
On Friday, September 14, people near the rose garden at Kelowna City Park will notice an unusual sight.
16 lawyers will be dispensing free legal advice as part of the annual Pro Bono Going Public event.
"The event is a service event first and foremost. We provide free legal advice to people who need it," says Jamie MacLaren.
"Second of all, it's an awareness event, so we're just letting people know there are regular clinics in the community and people can use it if they need it. And the third part of it is a fund raising campaign for our program. We don't receive much in the way of government funding. We're a registered charity and the lawyers go out there and provide the free legal advice and they solicit sponsorship money for their time."
MacLaren is the Executive Director of the Access Pro Bono Society of BC and also provides pro bono legal advice and representation to low-income individuals throughout the Lower Mainland.
'Pro Bono Going Public 2012' runs from 10:00 a.m until 2:00 p.m., and is sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society of BC.
The event offers low income residents a chance to talk with a lawyer about any legal trouble they might have and to receive advice on what action they should take to deal with the problem.
"What we try to do is...tell them how to navigate the court processes, what the best strategies are. Sometimes they don't need to go to court, they can resolve their problems in other ways. Other times they need a referral for representation services...and we find lawyers to represent people in court as well," says MacLaren
While most of the appointments for Friday have been pre-booked, MacLaren says drop-ins are welcome.
"We do have some capacity for drop-ins tomorrow, but we encourage them to come earlier than later."
MacLaren adds people can also learn, first hand, about the realities of living in a society where critical legal services are un-affordable. They will also be informed that nearly 1000 lawyers regularly provide free legal advice in over 100 Access Pro Bono clinics located throughout BC.
"Each day, such lawyers dispel the common myth of the greedy, immoral lawyer; by donating several hours of their time to increase access to justice for the poor and marginalized," says MacLaren.
For more information and to find out if you're eligible, visit their website.
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