Pro Bono Ontario is Hiring:
Public Interest Articling Fellowship

Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) is recruiting a Public Interest Articling Fellow for 2025-2026. This articling fellowship will provide the right candidate the opportunity to increase access to justice for low-income Ontarians with unmet civil, non-family, legal problems.

Role Overview:

The Public Interest Articling Fellow works with PBO’s legal team to support the provision of direct legal services to the public, primarily through the Free Legal Advice Hotline, which answered 31,137 calls in 2023. The role will provide hands-on experience helping people address everyday legal problems, including, but not limited to, civil litigation, employment, consumer protection and housing matters. It will also create opportunities for Articling Fellows to build relationships with volunteer lawyers from various firms and legal departments.

Who We Are

PBO was created in 2001 to leverage lawyers’ skills and goodwill to help low-income Ontarians address the unmet legal needs that interfere with their ability to lead secure, healthy and productive lives. PBO delivers on this mission by creating and managing programs that provide opportunities for lawyers to donate their services to a high-volume of people who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford a lawyer.

Launched in 2017, the Free Legal Advice Hotline provides just-in-time summary legal advice and legal drafting services to help Ontarians address their legal problems before they multiply and intensify. The Hotline is designed to address barriers to justice that include age, disability, geography, poor transit options, childcare obligations, and precarious work schedules. The Hotline helps with civil procedure, consumer debt and protection, corporate law for low-income sole proprietorships and non-profits, education law, employment matters, housing matters (RTA and non-RTA), and powers of Attorney and Estates administration. Last year, 86% of callers indicated that the hotline created their first opportunity to speak with a lawyer about their legal problems. 72% could resolve their issues (i.e., negotiate a settlement or have their day in court) with the help of hotline consultations alone.

Key to PBO’s ability to provide client-centred services is its combination of large-scale triage with a service pyramid model that strives to deliver appropriate levels of support. The service pyramid model enhances the hotline’s ability to function as a wide front door to legal services:

Tier 1: Brief short-term services (legal advice and basic document preparation with no ongoing lawyer/client relationship)

Tier 2: Enhanced short-term services (more in-depth advice, more complicated document preparation, court appearances, more staff support of client needs, still no ongoing lawyer/client relationship). Clients who are referred to Tier 2 include: People with disabilities

  • People who lack access to technology
  • Seniors
  • People whose first language is not English.

Tier 3: Pro bono representation (limited scope and full representation, ongoing lawyer/client relationship reflected in retainer agreement with a lawyer). Clients who are referred to Tier 3 include people who need additional support and whose cases are assessed as having a reasonable prospect of success.

Primary Job Responsibilities

PBO’s fellow will be integrated in all aspects of PBO’s 3-Tier service structure:

  • Providing short-term legal services on the Free Legal Advice Hotline.
  • Supporting the provision of Tier 2 legal services by conducting client interviewing, case analysis, legal research, and legal drafting, etc.
  • Supporting the provision of Tier 3 legal services by participating in client screening, merit assessments, by developing case summaries for volunteers and by maintaining relationships with roster lawyers and introducing lawyers to clients in specific cases.
  • Contributing to our knowledge management database. This is a growing library of carefully researched and written articles on commonly occurring legal questions. This resource supports our volunteers and ensures we are dispensing consistent and high-quality legal advice.

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time, 10-month contract position. The Public Interest Articling Fellow will receive $62,000 in compensation and will be enrolled in PBO’s benefits plan, which includes health and dental benefits. The fellowship covers the Fellow’s licensing process fees.

Location

This position will be hybrid, with at least one day/month spent at PBO’s office in Toronto at Yonge & St. Clair.

Hiring Process and Timeline

Please submit your cover letter, CV, official law school transcript, anticipated upper year course list (if applicable), a legal writing sample, maximum 1,000 words (excerpts of longer pieces are acceptable) and a list of two references (contact name, phone number, and email address) as one attachment by June 28, 2024 at 5pm EDT via the viLawPortal. Cover letters can be addressed to Yonit Fuhrmann, Deputy Director.

We will be following the Law Society of Ontario’s 2025-2026 Articling Recruitment Procedures. Interview dates and times will be communicated after 8am EDT on July 19, 2024. Interviews will be conducted between 8am EDT on August 12, 2024, and 3pm EDT on August 14, 2024. An offer will be made after 5pm EDT on August 14, 2024.

The interview process will occur remotely.

PBO encourages applications from candidates who reflect the diversity of our communities.

We thank all applicants for their interest, but only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

This position has been made available through The Law Foundation of Ontario Public Interest Articling Fellowship Program.