Our Divisions and Joint Placements
Students have the opportunity to work in one of the five divisions of the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic (the "Clinic"): Community Legal Education and Outreach, Criminal, Family, Tenant and Women’s. As well, during the academic year students can be placed in external community clinics or Legal Aid offices through our Joint Placement Program (see below).
Students in every division (not including those in the Joint Placement Program) must, on a rotating basis, perform the following duties in addition to their division duties:
- Participation in a rotating schedule of intake interviews for prospective clients which are held at the following times: Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00-9:00pm, and Thursdays from 2:00-4:00pm.
- Participation in Community Legal Education and Outreach Division workshops, as needed.
Community Legal Education and Outreach Division
The Community Legal Education and Outreach Division is the primary point of contact between the Clinic and the community and the undergraduate student body at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. The division performs the essential function of taking the community’s pulse and communicating the needs of the community to the Clinic. Caseworkers in this division deal with community organizations and the general public. Their mission: popularize the law and render the justice system more accessible. In collaboration with community organizations, caseworkers lead workshops on a variety of legal topics such as human rights, tenant rights and workers rights. In view of these workshops, caseworkers conduct research on topics assigned to them, develop publications such as brochures, pamphlets and posters, and assemble presentations. Caseworkers also participate in Outreach activities such as community fairs and other events. The Community Legal Education and Outreach Division provides students with the invaluable opportunity to gain a solid knowledge of many areas of the law, to acquire both written and spoken communication skills, to develop a talent for public-speaking and to sharpen networking skills.
Students have carriage of a portfolio of community organizations and develop and lead workshops on topics agreed upon with these organizations.
The Criminal Division represents accused persons at the Ontario Court of Justice in regards to summary conviction offences under the Criminal Code of Canada (including hybrid offences where the Crown has elected to proceed by way of summary conviction) such as theft under $5000, assault, mischief under $5000, fraud under $5000, and possession of controlled substances. The Criminal Division may also represent those charged with significant provincial offences such as driving without insurance and careless driving.
Caseworkers in the Criminal Division review evidence, meet with prosecutors to discuss resolutions, and conduct trials.
Parents and spouses often do not know their rights when it comes to a separation or divorce. The Family division provides legal services to parents and spouses regarding such issues as custody, access, support and restraining orders. These services include advice and representation. The Family Division does not deal with child protection matters or property issues in relation to a separation or divorce. We can, however, provide referrals for these services.
Caseworkers in the Family Division meet with clients, collect and assess evidence from their clients and opposing parties, prepare and file applications and attempt to negotiate resolutions to disputes whenever possible. While caseworkers cannot appear in court on their own, they will accompany review counsel.
Tenants often do not know their rights and landlords can use this to their advantage. Accordingly, the Tenant Division provides legal services to tenants in regards to disputes with landlords such as evictions, outstanding repair issues, and arrears in rent. Caseworkers in the Tenant Division may represent tenants in both the Small Claims Court and the Landlord and Tenant Board, and also provide duty counsel services at the Landlord and Tenant Board. Duty counsel services ensure that tenants who appear at the Landlord and Tenant Board unrepresented can receive free legal information and assistance.
Caseworkers in the Tenant Division assess the evidence of their clients and the opposing landlord, attempt to negotiate resolutions to disputes, and conduct hearings.
The Women’s Division assists women who have experienced, or are experiencing violence, with an emphasis on making applications on their behalf to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB). The CICB is an administrative tribunal that provides financial compensation to victims of violent crimes. The maximum lump sum award is $25,000 per violent act that is separate in time and place.
All caseworkers in the Women’s Division are female, and work with clients to gather evidence in preparation of a hearing at the CICB and represent clients at CICB hearing. Caseworkers collect and assess evidence, including evidence produced by experts. They may also assist women relocating to a women’s shelter, and provide referrals to social agencies and counsellors.
In addition to having carriage of client files, Women’s division caseworkers also hold on-call hours to conduct telephone intakes for Women’s Division clients in crisis situations.
During the academic year students can be placed in external community clinics or Legal Aid offices. Students may apply to work in areas of law such as:
Community Legal Aid Clinics
- Ontario Disability Support Program: This placement consists of helping clients with physical or mental disabilities with appeals to the Social Benefits Tribunal where they have been refused disability benefits.
- Immigration/Refugee Law: Students may be placed in the area of immigration and refugee law.
- Tenant Law: Depending on the placement, students doing ODSP or Immigration/Refugee law may also assist in the area of landlord-tenant law.
Legal Aid Offices
- Duty Counsel: Students may assist duty counsel. Duty counsel are lawyers who can give immediate, legal assistance to low-income people who appear in court without a lawyer. We currently have Duty Counsel Joint Placements in the following areas of law:
- Family Duty Counsel: Students may assist duty counsel with family law matters. Typical matters include child custody and support.
- Legal Aid Ontario Offices: We currently have joint placements in the following areas of law:
- Criminal law
- Immigration and refugee law
If you require additional information please consult the following links:
Ottawa Community Legal Clinics:
- Community Legal Services: http://www.socls.org/
- West End Legal Services: https://westendlegal.ca/
- South Ottawa Community Legal Services: http://www.socls.org
Family Law: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/ and click on “getting legal help” and select the area of law.
Criminal Duty Counsel: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/ and click on “getting legal help” and select the area of law.
Please note that students in joint placements do not participate in the general University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic duties such as intakes or Community Legal Education and Outreach workshops, although similar activities may take place through their placements.