About the National Forum

The National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts’ National Forum was held on May 11-13, 2021.

Below, you will find event recordings, resources, and additional information about the project. Each event was created in order to raise awareness about existing legal resources that are available, while also drawing attention to what tools continue to be needed in order to increase access to justice for artist communities from coast to coast to coast. The National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts aims to fill these gaps, and empower artists to be resilient, using the law as the vehicle.

Le Réseau national des cliniques juridiques dédiées au secteur  artistique cherche à créer des centres juridiques dans tout le Canada  pour améliorer l’accès des artistes aux services juridiques. Du 11 au 13  mai, le Forum national rassemblera, entre autres, des avocat.e.s, des  étudiant.e.s en droits et des organismes du secteur artistique de tout le  pays pour échanger sur la façon dont il faudrait défendre les intérêts  légaux des artistes au niveau national.


Pivoting to Digital for Writers

What are the copyrights and copywrongs of written content online? What new opportunities does the digital transition present for writers, publishers, and events curators? Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, writers have to advocate for themselves in new ways, requiring new legal literacy when it comes to contracts, and more effort in order to be empowered when sharing their craft with the world. For this special event co-presented by The Writers’ Trust, as part of the National Network’s Virtual Forum, we’ll be discussing the writers rights when pivoting to digital.

Hosted by Sean Cranbury, Pacific Legal Education and Outreach


Martha Rans, Legal Director, PLEO
Dina Del Bucchia, writer, instructor, and Artistic Director at Real Vancouver Writers’ Series
Shelley Youngblut, CEO & Creative Ringleader, Wordfest Calgary

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Introducing the Legal Self Assessment and Learning Tool (LSALT)

Created by the Pacific Legal Education & Outreach Society (PLEO), the LSALT is a simple and low-barrier tool that helps your non-profit organization understand legal obligations and compliance through an interactive experience.

Anju Singh, Technology Director at PLEO, will introduce you to this incredible digital tool. It is currently being built for use non-profit and arts organizations in the BC and Yukon, offering modules in privacy and records, the Societies Act, Human Rights, and more in compliance with the BC Societies Act.

Future iterations of the tool can easily be adapted for use in other regions of Canada.

Learn more about this exciting new resource through a live demonstration, and hear how its content can support your arts organization in navigating your legal responsibilities. 

The digital platform can be found at Law for Non-Profits dot ca.

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Board Table Disruption: Lawyers at the Board Table

Many years ago, Shakespeare once said, “first thing we do, let’s [not retain] all the lawyers!” While we’ve adjusted this controversial quote to keep things PG, it begs the question, where do lawyers fit in at our board tables? Lawyers who act on boards are often informally expected to provide legal counsel to the organization, but this can cause many conflicts if the board also acts as your boss. For this edition of “Board Table Disruption,” we hope to shift the conversation in order to redefine how arts organizations engage and experience the law through their boards. Why do we need agreements when we can simply come to an agreement? How can lawyers at the board table best protect the interests of an organization, while not being held solely responsible for de-escalating a society’s legal problems? 

Meet our guests

Moderator: Jeanne LeSage, LeSage Arts Management

LeSage Arts Management was borne out of 30+ years of excellence in executive arts management across multiple artistic disciplines by owner and principal, Jeanne LeSage.   Jeanne is a highly respected senior arts management professional with national and international experience in festivals and multidisciplinary performing arts.  She is a sought-after consultant, educator and conference speaker working across Canada with a unique specialization and expertise in Arts HR. 

Panelist: Owais Lightwala

Owais Lightwala is an arts leader and creative producer. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Performance, Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University, where his teaching and research focuses on creative producing and arts management. Prior to that, he spent 8 years as the Managing Director for Why Not Theatre, where he produced sold-out runs of award-winning new works, national and international tours, presentations from around the world, and co-helmed the creation of innovative new producing models like RISER.

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As part of the National Forum, we gathered all the existing pro-bono summary legal advice clinics that exist in Canada to present on how they came to be, who they serve, what resources they have available, and more. Hear from these key partners involved in the National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts below!

Meet Artists’ Legal Advice Services (ALAS, Toronto)

ALAS is operated by volunteer entertainment and intellectual property lawyers, fellow creators, and law students from the University of Toronto who generously donate their time to help provide advice to those who may not be able to access more expensive alternatives. They have been offering summary legal advice to artists in all disciplines since 1987. 

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Meet the Artists’ Legal Information Society (ALIS, Nova Scotia)

ALIS values cooperation and partnership between artistic and legal communities. Leading with this foundation, ALIS offers legal information, referrals, workshops, guides, and more to remove barriers for artists.

In addition, this advocacy aims to foster the development and sustainability of the arts and culture sector in the Atlantic provinces. Hear from ALIS President Martin Glogier on the future of this clinic as part of the National Network.

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Meet Artists’ Legal Services Ottawa (ALSO, Ottawa)

What legal resources exist in Canada’s capital? Founded in 2012, ALSO hopes to broaden the awareness within the community on arts-related legal issues while empowering artists to protect their interests. Learn more about their resources related to copyright, crowdfunding, and more.

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Meet the Clinique Juridique des Artistes de Montréal (CJAM)

CJAM is a charity dedicated to offering free legal information services to Montreal’s diverse artistic community. CJAM regularly hosts workshops and legal information nights that provide artists with a basic understanding of legal issues pertaining to artistic practices. Hear from CJAM President and Director John Lenz on CJAM’s operations and future goals to ensure that artists in Montreal are protected and informed.

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Meet the CreatiUM – Intellectual Property Legal Clinic (Quebec)

Meet the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic (Manitoba)

The National Network is thrilled to welcome Lisa Fainstein, lead of Special Projects at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, and co-supervisor Nick Slonosky, spearheading the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic. This legal clinic is driven by the passion of law students eager to support small businesses and arts organizations as they develop their career. Pivoting to a virtual format in 2021, hear more about how this evolving resource will join forces with the National Network.

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Meet Pacific Legal Education & Outreach (PLEO, BC and Yukon)

The Pacific Legal Education & Outreach Society has been operating the Artists’ Legal Outreach clinic since 2003. Their volunteer lawyers and law students provide summary legal advice to artists and arts organizations. Join in on this session with Martha Rans, Legal Director and Founder to learn more about PLEO’s work to shift the paradigm in how non-profits and artists experience the law, providing them with accessible tools, education, and legal advice.

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For our advocacy themed day as part of the National Forum, we gathered arts funders, and volunteer lawyers for the arts in the USA to discuss how legal hubs can find sustainable funding opportunities to increase access to justice in their region.

Arts Funders Roundtable

Public funding of the arts is one of the many reasons that culture flourishes across all the provinces and territories of Canada. The process for gaining access to funding can be tricky. Knowing how to describe your organizational needs and to align them with a funders’ programs, expectations, and deadlines is almost an art form itself.

For this National Network Forum event, hear from a roundtable of public arts funders to hear about the future of what advocacy for the arts may look like. 


Dennis Lepsi, Canada Council for the Arts
Allison Bottomley, BC Arts Council
Lyne Lanthier, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
Bob Wong, Creative BC
Erin Dean, Creative Saskatchewan

This is a rare opportunity to hear from many different public funders in a single session.

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts: USA edition

Have you ever been curious about what advocacy for the arts looks like in other countries? Currently, Canada has only 6 existing pro-bono legal clinics, all of which are located in urban areas, making their services out of reach for a significant proportion of the artistic population.

How do our neighbours in the United States increase access to justice?

For this event, we’ve invited Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and their service organizations from across the USA to share how their legal clinics function, in hopes to foster understanding on the need, and what continued advocacy for the legal rights of artists can produce.