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UNB Fredericton

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PBSC UNB: Serving the community for 22 years

Second-year student Frances Borgmann has taken the reigns of the UNB Chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC). The Mississauga native, who holds a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s, is leading the group in its twenty-second year of service.

"I was motivated to volunteer with PBSC in 1L because I wanted to help create a more accessible justice system. Being new to Fredericton, it is important for me to understand the local access to justice issues and become more engaged in my new community."

Borgmann did just that. In her first year with the organization, she partnered with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). She participated in a project alongside volunteers from across the country to examine how pandemic measures affected the justice system in New Brunswick and beyond. Now, in her sophomore effort with PBSC, she has taken on the role of Coordinator, responsible for planning and overseeing all projects for 2021-22—and the calendar is full. The UNB Chapter has taken on 20 projects (12 of which are new) and has partnered with 13 organizations. A group of 40 UNB Law student volunteers will complete these projects under the supervision of 17 local lawyers.

This year’s PBSC projects fall under three categories, legal research and writing, public legal education, and client-facing services. Below, you will find a snapshot of a few of the important projects UNB Law students are delivering for the Atlantic Canada community.

Protection of Wetlands and Species at Risk, Nature Trust of New Brunswick (NTNB)

This project is centred on NTNB’s mission to advocate for both wetlands and species at risk. The student volunteer will draft a legal memorandum based on their research of the environmental law that regulates species at risk and wetland conservation. Using a gap analysis approach, the student volunteer will research and compare regulatory schemes on a province-to-province basis and a federal-to-province basis. The student volunteer will provide recommendations as to where the law could better protect wetlands and species at risk. The NTNB has the most projects of any partner organization with four, three of which are new, the fourth, a continuing project.

Anti-Racism Resources, New Brunswick African Association (NBAA)

NBAA’s main goal is to promote and strengthen cooperation amongst resident Africans, immigrants of African descent, and other Canadians. The NBAA has created an anti-racism task force in response to the complaints they have received about racism. In support of this task force, the student volunteer will research racism—from a legal perspective—within New Brunswick’s community. The student’s research will take the form of a legal research memorandum and a PowerPoint video (with voiceover). The video will be presented by NBAA at community workshops.

Know Your Rights: Prince Edward Island, Canadian National Institute for the Blind

The student volunteer will assist in the development and publication of accessible legal resources intended to help partially sighted or blind and Deafblind PEI residents. The legal resources will address various topics (e.g., transportation) and will take the following forms: a legal information handbook, a public education video, a legal information training workshop, and continuing professional development for lawyers.

Conscientious Objection Legislation, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC)

The student volunteer will research legislation, caselaw, organizational policies, and lawsuits centred on conscientious objection in healthcare. Conscientious objection seeks to protect the conscience of healthcare professionals, typically via claims to Charter conscience rights. The purpose of this research is to understand the various efforts to limit access to abortion and medical assistance in dying across Canada. The final deliverable will be a legal memorandum for ARCC’s internal use. This is a brand-new project and the first time UNB Law has partnered with ARCC.

Family Law Workshop, Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS)

The student volunteer will assist in the delivery of family law workshops for people handling common family issues (e.g., uncontested divorces and child support variation). Specifically, the student volunteer will aid PLEIS staff in the drafting and revision of documents and handouts related to the family law workshops. The student volunteer may be asked to draft new Family Law FAQ sheets or other related materials. This project offers an opportunity for student volunteers to gain valuable knowledge relating to court procedures in family law matters.

Trans ID Clinic, Youth Imprint Association

The Trans ID Clinic provides free legal information, form-filling services, and referrals in a space that strives to be trans-positive, non-judgemental, anti-oppressive, and inclusive. Student volunteers will assist clients in the various stages of their transition (i.e., legal name and gender marker change). Student volunteers will explain the forms, all necessary steps and procedures as per NB laws and regulations, and relevant complicating factors such as being outside of the province of birth, fees, and publication of name changes.

The Trans ID Clinic has been a long-standing commitment for PBSC UNB and is in its seventh year. Beginning this year, McInnes Cooper has graciously provided lawyer supervisors for all Atlantic clinics. For Borgmann, the firm’s commitment to the project is undeniable.

"This reaffirms McInnis Cooper’s support for the Trans ID clinic as a whole," said Borgmann, "and it really bolsters the Clinic itself. This project has grown significantly over the years and is now taking place all over the Maritimes."

Other 2021-22 partner organizations include Dyslexia Canada, Sexual Violence New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island Fisherman’s Association, Solidarité Fredericton Solidarity, Legal Aid New Brunswick, and Stewart McKelvey. For a full list of UNB Law’s pro bono projects and more information on our PBSC chapter, please visit their website.

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