Introduction

Pro bono publico: a phrase I have been mintranslating for the past two decades

Pro bono publico: a phrase I have been mintranslating for the past two decades

As I sat at my table staring at the do-it-yourself will kit I had purchased at the bookstore, a thought went through my mind, “there has to be an easier way”. I don’t have the extra coin to pay a lawyer to draft up my will and I lack the motivation to create a will on my own.

It occured to me that in the mile-long list of student fees I paid in September, there might be a legal services fee. Through cross referencing the list and googling a little more, I found Downtown Legal Services. This is a free law clinic operated by students from the U of T Faculty of Law. Students and the general public are encouraged to use this free service.

That’s right Pro bono publico ! Unbeknownst to me, this actually doesn’t mean free. Directly translated it reads “for good of public”. There’s your daily trivia quota met.

Unfortunately for me, they don’t draft wills, but they do offer free services that might come in handy if you need a lawyer.

Here’s a list of the services they offer:

Criminal Law
Family Law
Refugee Law
Tenant Housing Law
University Affairs

Hopefully you will not need the services of a lawyer during your academic career, but if you do then look no further!

Of particular interest is the University Affairs section of the services. If you are charged with an academic offence and you have been wrongly accused, these people will represent you. Again, let’s hope that you don’t need these services anytime soon. Here’s an analogy, it’s similar to knowing where the closest dentist is to your house, even though you really don’t want a get root canal.

I was told this clinic can be very Busy. With a capital B. In my attempts to contact the clinic, this was evident. They really did not have time to talk to me. I was referred to their website, which has all the information you would need to determine if they can handle your case and how to contact their offices. You need to make an appointment; they absolutely do NOT take walk-ins. You will also need to prove to them that you are financially incapable of paying for a lawyer.

If you can do this, then presto…free legal services!

Let me re-iterate that it would be great if you never, ever needed these services. However, if you do find yourself in a “situation” at least, you now know who to call.

Valete!
-Lori

Photo by wikipedia user Jonathunder, used under creative commons licence.

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