Pivot Legal Society

Through the wisdom and passion of its community, Pivot has had a positive impact on systems, powers and policies, demonstrating how the success of marginalized people benefits everyone. As Katrina says, “All these principles that people want our society to uphold are enshrined in law. We can use the law to remember who we want to be. Today, Pivot leads Canada`s political agenda to protect the rights of marginalized people. “I got my legal education through Pivot,” says Katrina. “When Pivot grew up, I grew up.” After several years volunteering with Pivot, Katrina now works as a criminal defense lawyer at Pivot`s new social enterprise law firm, Pivot Legal LLP. The LLP is a self-financing innovation, a for-profit subsidiary of a social justice advocacy group. By practicing law at LLP, Katrina helps fund the charitable efforts that remain her passion. Pivot Legal Society is a legal advocacy group based in Vancouver`s Downtown Eastside, British Columbia. Pivot was founded in 2001 and aims to represent and advocate on behalf of marginalized communities affected by poverty and social exclusion. This is achieved through strategic litigation and public advocacy with government. Pivot has amplified the voices of marginalized people in unprecedented ways and has proven to be an influential advocate, particularly on housing issues. At the same time, they have broadened the legal perspectives of the professionals who contribute to Pivot`s success.

Katrina Pacey, Criminal Defense Lawyer for the Pivot Legal Society // www.pivotlegal.org In 2001, first-year law student Katrina Pacey discovered the Pivot Legal Society, a forward-thinking non-profit organization serving Vancouver`s Downtown Eastside. Working out of a founder`s bedroom and renting offices, Pivot had begun to grow into an important advocacy group for marginalized people. Katrina devoured the atmosphere of collaboration of lawyers and citizens of the East Side around a table. It has found its place in the reform of the law for sex workers. Through these contributions, Pivot staff and volunteers have developed some of the most innovative approaches to community activism. “Renewal is confident that we are doing the right thing with our support. It`s a responsibility we take seriously,” says Katrina. Hope in Shadows is a photography contest organized by the Pivot Legal Society for residents of the Downtown Eastside since 2003. Each summer, up to 200 residents receive disposable cameras and are encouraged to capture their community and life through photos.

The contest aims to raise awareness of life in the Downtown Eastside and present reality from a very personal point of view. Forty photographs will be selected by a jury of Vancouver artists and photographers who will be exhibited on the street in front of the Carnegie Community Centre. Here, residents can vote to select the winning entries, which are compiled into an annual calendar and sold by residents on the streets of Vancouver. In 2010, 216 residents received professional training to sell the 2011 “Hope in the Shadows” calendar. Over $130,000 was earned from licensed street vendors selling calendars for 2011. Hope in Shadows won the City of Vancouver Book Award in October 2008 and has since sold over 5,000 copies on the street (if sold in bookstores, it would be an official B.C. bestseller). The Pivot Legal Society has four main campaign areas: homelessness and housing equity, sex work law reform, drug policy, and police and police accountability. Pivot has always known Renewal because it grew out of relationships established at the Social Venture Institute (SVI). Since then, Renewal has supported Pivot with a two-pronged strategy of investing and charitable giving: an initial grant from Endswell has helped keep Pivot`s vision alive.

Subsequent investments and mentorship helped strengthen Pivot`s impact. The recent joint purchase of a building helped give Pivot a home.