Distinguished Service Awards

The Distinguished Service Awards are presented annually to our Edmonton Community Legal Centre volunteers and supporters who have contributed significantly to our organization and to client services.

 2018 Recipients

Rukaiyat Lawal is an internationally trained lawyer who has been volunteering with the ECLC since 2017, generally for half a day each week, assisting the ECLC staff Social Benefits Advocate with research and preparation of written submissions to the AISH appeals panel on behalf of ECLC clients. Rukiayat contributed an incredible 124 hours of volunteer service in 2018, in addition to her volunteer work with the Elizabeth Fry Society as an Adult Court Worker and the CBA as a member of the Legislative Review Committee. Like so many foreign trained lawyers who contact the ECLC each year, Rukaiyat has completed her Canadian law Certificate of Qualification by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, but has been unable to find an articling opportunity in order to become an active member of the Law Society of Alberta. The ECLC would love to have Rukaiyat as a volunteer clinic lawyer some day!

Beverley McNally joined the ECLC as a volunteer lawyer in 2016 after her retirement from the Office of the Public Trustee. Thanks to the Law Society’s “Active for Pro Bono Status”, retiring lawyers have an option to pay the same fee as the “Inactive-Retired” status, and become an ECLC volunteer clinic lawyer. Bev has been a fantastic addition to our clinic volunteers, sharing her vast knowledge of Wills and Estates matters both at clinic and on pro bono files. She volunteers during the day, generally seeing the same client twice, assisting them with complicated estate litigation or trusteeship matters, with considerable research and document drafting being conducted at home prior to the second client visit. We estimate that Bev provides eight hours of legal advice and assistance to each client. Bev has contributed over 100 hours to date at clinic, and likely at least double that on pro bono file work at home.

Peter Gibson is a partner at Field Law and an ECLC volunteer lawyer since 2016, consistently volunteering at clinic twice a month, seeing three or four clients each evening. In 2018, Peter attended clinic 23 times, contributing 69 hours of civil law legal advice to ECLC’s low income clients. Peter is a “well-loved” volunteer lawyer by the Wednesday evening clinic team. They appreciate that he is reliable, friendly, and dedicated, that he arrives early for his clinic shift, and that he is willing to help up to four clients each evening, if needed. In short, Peter is the ideal clinic volunteer!

Karen McDougall has been an ECLC family law volunteer lawyer since 2015, contributing 215 clinic advice hours to date, and 75 hours in 2018. Karen eagerly agreed to our request a few years ago to provide telephone family law legal advice to clients of Grande Prairie Legal Guidance, out of the ECLC office. This worked so well for both Karen and the clients, that Karen now does exclusively telephone appointments for both Grande Prairie and ECLC clients, generally three afternoons a month, from her home. This model is being expanded to the new Northern Alberta Family Law Legal Advice Project, which will see Edmonton family law lawyers providing telephone or videoconference advice to low income people throughout northern Alberta, funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario. Thanks, Karen, for being a pioneer in the ECLC’s service to low income and isolated Albertans!

Jim Neilson was an ECLC volunteer lawyer since 2008, and a board member since 2013, serving as board treasurer, all of that while managing an active practice as a partner at Parlee McLaws. Throughout his 11-year career with the ECLC, Jim maintained a regular evening clinic shift, typically volunteering once a month, as well as volunteering and raising funds at Advice-A-thon every year, achieving a lifetime total of 295 volunteer hours. The ECLC was so proud to learn about a year ago, that Jim had been appointed as a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.


Five Years of Service

Barbara Acton,  Sanjana Ahmed,  Elen Bereket,  Matt Brockman,  Tracy Brown,  Sarah Dargatz,  Megan Dawson,  Heidi Engler,  Robyn Graham,  Ian Hanson,  Jayne Janzen,  Monica Johnson,  Brian Kash,  Trafton Koenig,  Jordan Lefaivre,  Linda Lim,  Natalia Makuch,  Bonnie Parker,  Karen McDougall,  Michelle Murphy,  Allison Purdon,  Bruce Reid,  Nicholas Smith,  Mary Softley,  Natalie Tymchuk,  Rebecca Cuthbertson Hulst,  Shaun Wetmore,  Amanda Hart-Dowhum



 Ten Years of Service

David Barker,  Jose Delgado,  Peter Faid,  Nigel Forster, Naz Mellick,  Tiffany Stokes, Andrea Simmonds