“This is my third and final year as a student volunteer with PBSC, and my second year involved with the UNB Wills Project. Over the past two years I have learned the importance of Wills, shared that information, and helped create both Wills and Powers of Attorney for those in need. I have also made several connections with several organizations throughout Fredericton who help vulnerable populations such as Ability New Brunswick, and the CNIB New Brunswick.
The project did not always work out the way I wanted it to do, but that did not take away from how important I believe the project was. We had problems with scheduling and finding clients, but when we moved past these hurtles the community benefitted in two ways. The first way was in public education. We held information secessions that not only taught about the Wills Project, but also showed attendees the importance of having a Will. Not all attendees signed up to have a Will made, but thanks to the generous help from Public Legal Education and Information Service – NB, we were able to provide an in depth presentation on what a Will is, how it works, and what happens when you do not have a Will. The second benefit was the fact that we ensured that people who would otherwise be unable to afford a Will got one drafted. Although we were not able to create Wills for everyone who deserves one, a new project co-ordinator has been selected to ensure that more people will be helped in the upcoming year.
The reason this project and the PBSC organization matters is so important is because access to justice is so limited. Lawyers may be too involved in the law to see how inaccessible it is to the general population, and the general population might not see it until they are in a situation where they need justice but have no way to access it. Many law students start their legal studies with the idea that the legal system is about justice, but it does not take long to learn that it often only provides justice when a person can afford it. Having pro bono initiatives ensures that everyone can access information on their legal rights and obligations. From a practical perspective, PBSC opens the eyes of students to the shortcomings of the legal system’s lack of access to justice, and hopefully nurtures a career long dedication to giving back to the community.”
-Sarah Michel, 3L Wills Volunteer Coordinator