Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Pro Bono Ontario!
We are currently seeking law students, NCA candidates, and paralegal students (or recent graduates of any of these programs) to assist as Volunteer Triage Coordinators. Triage coordinators help with the day-to-day operations at PBO’s court-based help centres, including the intake, interview, and triage process connecting low-income, self-represented individuals with volunteer lawyers who provide summary legal advice regarding civil (non-family) legal issues.
This volunteer position provides an intensive exposure to the practice of law and offers students a chance to gain hands-on experience in civil litigation. Volunteering with PBO also gives students the opportunity to:
- interact directly with clients;
- familiarize themselves with the Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Small Claims Court; and
- improve access to justice by connecting low-income self-represented individuals to the help they need.
PBO’s court-based help centres are located at the:
- Ottawa Courthouse (161 Elgin Street, Room 5027)
- Toronto Small Claims Court (47 Sheppard Avenue East, Room 305)
- Toronto Superior Court (393 University Avenue, Suite 110)
Please note: Though you can still apply, we have received a high number of responses recently for both of our Toronto locations.
Volunteer triage coordinators help with the day-to-day operations at PBO’s court-based help centres, and are responsible for the following duties:
- performing intake, interview, and triage-related work, including interviewing clients, assessing client eligibility for assistance based on PBO’s policies and procedures, managing client expectations respecting wait times and services, directing clients to appropriate streams of assistance;
- facilitating client consultations with volunteer lawyers, including reviewing client documents and court forms, researching applicable statutes and case law, briefing volunteer lawyers of client matters, monitoring consultation and wait times, and ensuring case records are completed by volunteer lawyers;
- helping clients access public use computers and utilize automated document assembly programs;
- making referrals to existing legal information and resources (PBO publications, websites, Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Society Referral Service, etc.);
- performing a limited number of administrative duties, including scanning/photocopying and data entry; and
- in some circumstances, shadow or assist volunteer lawyers as they provide legal advice (and at the Toronto Small Claims Court and Ottawa Courthouse locations, accompany volunteer lawyers if they attend Small Claims Court hearings such as motions, settlement conferences, and trials).
Requisite Skills and Experience
The ideal candidate for this position is a person with a strong passion to assist vulnerable clients, many of whom are experiencing referral fatigue and frustration both with the legal issues they are facing and the complexities of the civil justice system. In addition, volunteer triage coordinators must have the ability to:
- communicate effectively and professionally—verbally and in writing—with a variety of stakeholders, such as the legal profession, the judiciary, government agencies, and the general public;
- communicate effectively and empathetically with a broad diversity of individuals who may be difficult, upset, or demanding;
- utilize effective interviewing and probing skills to determine the scope of issues faced by self-represented litigants;
- work independently using initiative, tact, diplomacy, and sound judgment;
- demonstrate a sound understanding and application of the principles governing the provision of legal information as opposed to legal advice;
- use computers and possess proficient working knowledge of common office software (e.g. Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Reader, Google Chrome, etc.)
Preference will be given to candidates who have experience with customer service or working in a fast-paced, client-facing environment.
Volunteer triage coordinators are expected to be available for at least one day per week. Full day sessions are from 9 AM to 4 PM; morning sessions are from 9 AM to 12 PM, and afternoon sessions are from 1 PM to 4 PM.
Preference will be given to candidates who are available for full day sessions and/or have the broadest availability.
About Pro Bono Ontario
Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) is a registered charity with a mandate to improve access to justice by creating and facilitating opportunities for the legal profession to provide free legal services to low-income Ontarians. One priority area for the organization is low-income self-represented litigants with civil (non-family) matters. PBO manages a suite of projects dedicated to their needs, including operating a series of walk-in court-based help centres.
At PBO’s court-based help centres, self-represented individuals can receive a combination of self-help resources and pro bono duty counsel services on a walk-in basis, including:
- procedural information;
- form completion assistance;
- summary advice (provided by lawyers in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario);
- representation in court for some matters (provided by lawyers in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario); and
- referrals to additional resources.
Please note: if you are applying to volunteer through Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), do not fill out the below—contact your school’s PBSC coordinator for the alternative application form.