Hannah Cameron receives 2023 Chief Justice Richard Wagner Award

Author: Alexa Gualazzi

Posted on Jun 19, 2023

Category: Alumni , Faculty , Students

UNB Law is proud to announce that Hannah Cameron (JD’ 23) has been selected as a recipient of the fourth annual Chief Justice Richard Wagner Award. Established in 2019, the award honours outstanding PBSC volunteers across Canada who embody the organization’s core values of dignity, equity, and humility. Hannah has been recognized for her work on the Stewart McKelvey Wills Project—a partnership that aims to provide a will and/or a power of attorney to those who qualify and would not otherwise be able to do so.

Hannah’s desire to volunteer with UNB’s PBSC Chapter began after hearing Chief Justice Wagner speak at the 2022 Viscount Bennett Memorial Lecture.

“At the close of his lecture, the Chief Justice spoke of what a privilege it is to be a lawyer. He inspired us—as future lawyers—to use that privilege to dedicate ourselves to pro bono work and to grow ourselves as lawyers and help others.”

And Hannah did just that. In her second and third years of law school, she volunteered with the Wills Project, where she worked to improve access to justice for those seeking assistance with end-of-life planning.

“It’s a daunting topic for most people,” said Hannah, “but it can be even more burdensome for those with limited means. Most of us would be surprised how many people do not have a will, which can cause many complications and stresses for loved ones. The project provides these individuals, who may not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer, the opportunity to get their affairs in order.”

For Hannah, the project also brings an invaluable service to the community—the peace of mind and comfort of being heard.

“Many people who contact us are going through difficulties in their life, including sickness, old age, or family problems. Many want their will in place for themselves and their loved ones, and providing these documents at no cost brings so much relief.”

In addition to the preparation of legal documents, the Wills Project also includes a community-focused educational element including presentations and workshops, sharing of resources, and phone consultations.

“In my two years with this project, I learned the value it brings to these individuals to be heard by representatives of our justice system—both lawyers and students who listen without judgment. I have also learned what little time it can be in our busy schedules to make a difference for others.”

Helping the community while educating future legal professionals

In addition to providing benefit to community members, the Wills Project provides a powerful educational experience for students.

“What drew me to the Wills Project was that it is one of the few client-facing projects in our PBSC chapter. I felt I could gain invaluable experience by becoming comfortable with speaking to a client and drafting legal documents.”

Led by Supervising Lawyer, Mark Heighton (JD ‘20), student volunteers get one of their first opportunities to interact professionally with clients. Students have the ability to take the lead on client meetings, listen to their needs, build rapport, practice communicating complicated legal documents in lay terms and, ultimately, directly benefit members of the community.

“I would like to recognize the work of Mark Heighton, from the Stewart McKelvey office in Fredericton,” said Hannah. ”Mark constantly made time to fit meetings into his busy schedule and oversee our work. He does an excellent job of allowing students to exercise independence in a meeting. His commitment to this project sets an excellent example for us future lawyers. I am also so grateful for our volunteers this year—Mark Browne (JD ‘23), Chelsea Greenham and Emily LeRoux. They proudly represented UNB Law students as diligent, professional, and compassionate.”

“I plan to volunteer with the Legal Help Centre in Winnipeg, a drop-in clinic providing legal support and education for our community members with limited means. My career would feel incomplete without dedicating time to using my legal knowledge to help my community.”