World-first virtual legal clinic opens for business across BC, aiming to increase affordability, diversity and reach of legal professionals

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Everyone Legal Clinic is now providing low-cost legal services across BC, as the world’s first virtual public interest law teaching clinic and legal practice incubator. An early participant in the Law Society of BC’s Innovation Sandbox, the Clinic offers the in-person and virtual help of 25 articling students located in 15 different BC communities —from Tofino to Cranbrook— with the support of 15 supervising lawyers, four staff and dozens of local mentors. Together, they provide fixed-fee services in a wide range of areas covering everyday legal problems.

Operated by Access Pro Bono BC, the Clinic is committed to fostering a more inclusive and culturally responsive justice system in BC, by increasing the diversity of legal professionals, and by serving clients from underserved communities. Its first 25 articling students are 75 percent BIPOC and 25 percent Indigenous. The Clinic has these primary goals:

  • Increase access to affordable and high-quality legal services in communities throughout BC
  • Increase professional capacity for public interest legal service, particularly in underserved BC communities
  • Improve equity, diversity, working conditions and quality of education in BC’s lawyer and notary training systems, and reduce unmet need for articling positions
  • Promote new virtual, fixed fee and modular forms of legal practice

“I grew up in rural northern British Columbia, and family is everything to me,” said Burns Lake student Lincoln Hallgren. “To be able to article in my northern hometown is an opportunity unique to the Everyone Legal Clinic. My goal entering the legal field has always been to help people, especially those who may have trouble accessing or finding affordable legal services.”

In developing a new generation of community legal service providers, the Clinic functions as a solo and small firm incubator, which builds capacity within BC’s rural and remote communities for much-needed local and permanent legal services.

“The Clinic’s unique structure means that we get direct hands-on experience that we may not have received elsewhere,” said Prince George student Avneet Athwal. “This is the perfect program for people who want to learn the skills it would take to open a solo practice one day.”

The Clinic also prioritizes law graduates who seek to practice in an underserved BC community, and who have previous clinical experience serving vulnerable people. It provides a supportive and engaging educational experience for law graduates with foreign credentials.

“BC’s articling system isn’t working for everyone,” said Access Pro Bono executive director Jamie Maclaren. “It excludes a disproportionate number of mature law grads, Indigenous law grads, and people of colour. It can also give rise to unfair working conditions. The Everyone Legal Clinic is an important first step to prevent systemic barriers to entry from interfering with the dream of becoming a lawyer in BC.”

The Clinic is sponsored by several BC law firms, and it receives funding from the Law Foundation of BC and the McLachlin Foundation.

“The Everyone Legal Clinic is practical, and aims to stimulate innovation and diversity among new legal service providers,” said former Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin. “It could be replicated throughout Canada, and it has evaluation and knowledge sharing components to inform other access to justice initiatives. I am delighted that the McLachlin Fund was able to provide support for this project, and I hope others will follow suit.”

About Access Pro Bono BC: Access Pro Bono BC is a British Columbia charitable organization with the mission to promote access to justice in BC by providing and fostering quality free legal services for people and non-profit organizations of limited means. The Everyone Legal Clinic is APB’s first social enterprise serving everyone in BC.

For more information, please visit https://everyonelegal.ca/ and/or contact:

Jamie Maclaren KC, APB executive director, [email protected], 604-726-7274


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