To support access to justice, the legal profession has a proud tradition of providing pro bono legal services to the public. The term pro bono comes from Latin and means “for the public good”.
Commentary 2 of section 4.1-1 of the Code of Professional Conduct notes that, “As a matter of access to justice, it is in keeping with the best traditions of the legal profession to provide services pro bono and to reduce or waive a fee when there is hardship or poverty or the client or prospective client would otherwise be deprived of adequate legal advice or representation. The Law Society encourages lawyers to provide public interest legal services and to support organizations that provide services to persons of limited means.”
The Law Society supports the provision of pro bono legal services in several ways:
Pro bono organizations approved by the Law Society of Saskatchewan include:
Approval as a pro bono organization is beneficial for all parties:
To be eligible to become an approved pro bono organization, the provider must be an entity, excluding for-profit endeavours, that delivers or facilitates the delivery of pro bono legal services to the public in Saskatchewan.
Providers seeking status as an approved pro bono organization can submit Form C-6 to the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
Members of the Law Society of Saskatchewan who are inactive or retired, or are considering becoming inactive or retired, but would still like to volunteer their time with an approved pro bono program may apply for Active Pro Bono membership with the Law Society of Saskatchewan, which also carries several benefits provided services are delivered through an approved pro bono program:
Rule 717 of the Rules of the Law Society of Saskatchewan specifies as follows:
717(1) An active member may apply for a change of status to an Active Pro Bono member.
(2) A member who is not an active member may apply to be reinstated as an Active Pro Bono member on the same terms and conditions as required pursuant to Rule 728 for reinstatement to active membership but will be exempt from the fee provided in subrule 728(2)(b).
(3) All applications for Active Pro Bono membership shall include an undertaking to restrict practice to legal services provided through pro bono organizations approved by the Society.
(4) Each year Active Pro Bono members shall file the following:
(a) a letter from an approved pro bono organization, certifying that the Active Pro Bono member continues to be actively serving the approved pro bono organization; and
(b) an Annual Practice Declaration.
(5) Active Pro Bono member are exempt from paying the annual fee, the annual insurance levy, and any registration fees for Continuing Professional Development programs provided by the Society.
Members of the Law Society seeking to transition to the Active Pro Bono member category can submit Form P-5 to the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association (SLIA) provides professional liability insurance to members of the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
Rule 1202(1) of the Rules of The Law Society of Saskatchewan specifies that, unless exempt, every member shall pay to SLIA an annual assessment for mandatory liability insurance which provides coverage under the terms of the Canadian Lawyer’s Insurance Association (CLIA) Lawyers’ Professional Liability Insurance Group Policy. All non-exempt members of the Law Society of Saskatchewan are insured to provide professional legal services to clients whether or not they receive a fee for those services.
Rule 1202(3) details members who are exempt from payment from the annual assessment, which includes several categories:
Rule 1202(5) provides that a member who is exempt from paying the assessment pursuant to subrule (3)(a), (b), (c), (d) or (g) is covered by the liability policy for services provided through a pro bono organization approved by the Society, subject to the terms and conditions of the liability policy.
Exempt members are extended insurance coverage pursuant to Endorsement No. 2 of the Lawyers’ Professional Liability Insurance Group Policy in Saskatchewan:
“It is understood and agreed that coverage under this policy is extended to members of the Law Society, excepting students-at-law, who are exempt from insurance coverage pursuant to the Rules of the Law Society for an Occurrence arising out of Professional Services which they are entitled pursuant to the rules of the Law Society to perform and that are performed on a pro bono basis through a pro bono organization approved by the Law Society of Saskatchewan.”
Endorsement No. 2 extends errors and omissions coverage to exempt members who are not required to carry insurance when these exempt members provide pro bono legal services through organizations approved by the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
Members of the Law Society are reminded that errors and omissions insurance coverage is subject to all other terms and conditions of the CLIA Lawyers’ Professional Liability Insurance Group Policy and members have an obligation under the Policy to report claims or potential claims promptly.
The Law Society of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association have also partnered to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to lawyers in Saskatchewan engaging in delivery of pro bono legal services through approved pro bono programs.
The Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association has agreed to waive payment of the deductible for any claim occurring against a lawyer arising out of pro bono legal services provided through an approved pro bono organization. Lawyers must register and be volunteering with an approved pro bono organization program to receive this benefit.
For questions related to licensing status, insurance coverage, or approved pro bono organizations, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Society or SLIA:
Law Society of Saskatchewan | https://www.lawsociety.sk.ca/contact/
Saskatchewan Lawyers Insurance Association | https://slia.ca/