Artists and Lawyers for the Advancement of Creativity (ALAC) is looking for volunteer lawyers with commitment to and experience in arts and entertainment law to volunteer for ALAC’s Artists’ Legal Advice Services (ALAS) program.

ALAC was incorporated in 1991 and continued in 2015 under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. Its mission is to empower artists by ensuring that they have access to legal advice and information, or direction in seeking it. In furtherance of this mission, ALAC has offered the ALAS program since 1986, making summary legal advice to artists of all disciplines.

ALAS features a clinic for legal services, provided by volunteer lawyers and administered by volunteer law students, and which operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. The ALAS clinic is currently offered at the offices of Access Copyright, 69 Yonge Street, Suite 1100, in Toronto Ontario.

ALAS clinic volunteer lawyers act as “duty counsel” and provide summary legal advice within the time allotted for each appointment (usually 30 minutes) without any requirement or expectation of preparation, research or follow-up.

Some limitations on the summary legal advice provided through ALAS include that any advice given is not intended as part of on-going legal services. Although artists can make subsequent appointments, there is no guarantee or process in place to ensure that they will meet with the same lawyer who provided advice at a prior session, and a different duty counsel will not and cannot have information about the earlier appointment. It is also not always possible or appropriate for duty counsel to provide legal advice, and duty counsel may instead provide legal information or direction to resources or other avenues of obtaining legal advice or information, including referrals to professional organizations or unions for artists, or to arts or entertainment industry associations.

Key responsibilities and accountabilities

Duty counsel for the ALAS program must:

  1. Be a member in good standing of the Law Society of Ontario, licensed to practice law in the Province of Ontario;
  2. Be insured to practice law in Ontario (Law Pro) — ALAS is not insured, and volunteer lawyers are required to be covered by their own individual professional insurance when acting as duty counsel;
  3. Have at least two (2) years of experience in practice (in private practice or as in-house counsel) in arts and entertainment law, or have some equivalent form of experience with the arts and the law;
  4. Co-ordinate with the volunteer student administrators of ALAS and the chair or vice-chair of ALAC on operational matters (including scheduling), adhere to the policies of the ALAC board, and (if required) report to the ALAC board or the chair and vice-chair of ALAC (for greater certainty, not on individual meetings with artists or arts entities);
  5. Ensure that they are not in a conflict situation with respect to any persons seeking advice via the ALAS clinic (including with respect to any parties that the artist may be dealing with or inquiring about);
  6. Maintain confidentiality with respect to any services provided;
  7. Engage with and mentor student volunteers at appointments;
  8. Sign to acknowledge ALAS donations collected by student volunteers at appointments;
  9. Understand that summary legal advice services are provided on a pro bono basis; and
  10. Not advertise or offer their services to artists visiting the ALAS legal clinic, or subsequently advise artists met via the ALAS legal clinic in a professional capacity as part of their private practice regarding the same matter discussed via the ALAS clinic.

If you wish to join the ALAS duty counsel roster, please send your resume and a covering letter to alasontario@gmail.com using the subject line “Volunteer Lawyer for Duty Counsel with ALAS”.

Last updated: January 2020