The Pivot Legal Society was founded in 2000 with the aim of using legal strategies to tackle key systemic and policy issues facing people living in extreme poverty, particularly in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (DTES). The organizational mandate is to advance the interests and improve the lives of marginalized people through law reform, legal education and strategic legal action. Pivot’s core vision is that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where the values of opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law.

To date, Pivot’s campaigns have focused on issues such as housing and homelessness, police and security accountability, ending violence against women, sex workers’ rights, justice for children and youth, and health and drug policy. In these campaign areas, Pivot uses the law strategically to create social change, while also engaging in public education and movement building to increase our social impact.

In addition to a staff of lawyers and campaigners, more than 300 volunteers make it possible for Pivot to carry out its work. Residents of the Downtown Eastside play an important role in all levels of the organization, as campaign and project participants, clients, volunteers, society members and board members. Pivot works with related social justice organizations, and publishes a quarterly newsletter, a calendar, an e-newsletter and news releases to keep the community and the general public informed of events and issues in the DTES.

Pivot is enthusiastic to participate in all stages of the proposed project and will offer its members’ skills and resources to maximize the project’s positive social impact. At the civic engagement and policy development stage, Pivot will work with other project partners to gather existing academic and community knowledge and identify those areas of policy reform that will improve access to safe and affordable housing. In this consultation process, Pivot will be able to rely on its strong relationship to community, activist and policy organizations to encourage their participation in this knowledge sharing process.

From that body of knowledge, Pivot will work with the project partners to identify community engagement and legal strategies that will result in meaningful policy and social change. Pivot will be able to offer its extensive experience using social media, and web based tools as community engagement strategies. These movement building and lobbying efforts will be coordinated with strategic litigation that will arise from the knowledge gathering process in stage one of the project.

Pivot has the benefit of a decade of experience bringing strategic legal actions before the courts and tribunals in British Columbia in order to advance the rights and interests of many of the most marginalized members of our community. Strategic litigation has proven to be an effective tool to improve the availability and quality of housing in BC. A t this stage of the project, Pivot will combine our litigation experience with the knowledge generated through the first stage of this project to develop and launch a strategic legal action that we hope will result in a positive change in housing policy in BC and a precedent that can be used to advance housing rights for all Canadians.

For more information on Pivot Legal Society, please e-mail getinvolved [at] pivotlegal.org.