Clinic history

In October 1980, our non-profit community legal clinic was first funded by the Ontario Legal Aid Plan (now known as “Legal Aid Ontario” or LAO).

The clinic opened its doors to the public in December 1980. It was first known as Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services (HPELS) to reflect its geographic service area.

When the clinic was incorporated in April 1981, its objects were to:

  • operate a full-service law office
  • establish legal education programs
  • publish legal education literature
  • organize people or groups for test case or law reform purposes

The clinic owes its existence to the efforts of committed staff and Board volunteers from the former Quinte Information and Assistance Centre (QIAC). QIAC had also functioned as a Landlord and Tenant Bureau and had offered information and advocacy services in unemployment insurance, social assistance, and consumer matters.

Early days

Operating from a storefront at 194 Front Street in downtown Belleville, the four-member staff included an executive director/lawyer, two community legal workers, and a secretary/receptionist. In 1985 and 1987, the clinic received additional funding to open satellite offices in rural and remote areas. In 1987, the clinic moved its main office to 158 George Street in Belleville, from where we still operate, to better serve all the residents in its catchment area.

In 2002, the clinic received additional funding to serve people living on a low income in Lennox & Addington County. We were funded for a total of 10 positions, which included an executive director/lawyer, office manager, lawyers, community legal workers and paralegals, and administrative staff.

In December 2023, our Executive Director Michele Leering, who had been CALC’s Executive Director/Lawyer for 39 years, retired.  Visit her archived bio page for more about Michele and her history with the clinic, including her many presentations and published articles.

New name

In 2004, the clinic’s name was officially changed to Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC) to reflect that we also now served the low-income residents of Lennox & Addington County.

New locations

Over the years, the clinic established satellite office locations throughout the three counties:

  • in 1985, part-time satellite offices were opened in Madoc and Picton
  • in 1987, a part-time satellite office was opened in Bancroft
  • in March 2002, a part-time satellite was opened in Napanee (after completing a legal needs assessment)
  • in 2004, a part-time satellite was opened in Trenton
  • as of 2016, we also have satellite locations in Amherstview, Marmora and Tweed
  • as of 2017 we began to hold advice clinics on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

Special projects

In recent years, more staff have been hired with special funding from a variety of sources, including:

Community support

We would not have been able to accomplish anything without the support of our community for the last 4 decades. We are thankful for the support we have received from many individuals, groups, organizations, law associations, members of municipal councils, and indigenous, provincial, and federal governments.

More Information

For more information about the history of our clinic and Legal Aid Ontario, please read: