Information for Law Students
Upper year law students have the opportunity to work as caseworkers at the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic (the "Clinic") during the school year in the Introductory or Advanced Legal Aid Clinic courses, where they earn six credits working on client files and gain practical legal skills. Under the supervision of Review Counsel, caseworkers learn how to manage a file from the first client interview to the last court or tribunal appearance on that client's behalf. Each student is assigned to a particular division and assists clients with legal problems in that area of law.
Note that students admitted to the Community Legal Education and Outreach division have community organizations as their clients. Students in this division can expect to:
- Learn various areas of law;
- Develop skills in oral presentation by giving informational workshops on a broad variety of legal topics;
- Reach out to people in the community and inform them of their legal rights in general;
- Promote the work conducted by the Clinic in the community; and
- Represent criminal division clients at remand court.
In the summer, a number of law students are hired as employees to carry on casework full-time until September, when they return as Division Leaders who take an Advanced Legal Aid Clinic course and act as a resource for new students while continuing to work on client files.
Why Join the Clinic?
By joining the Clinic as caseworkers, students interested in both advocacy and social justice can gain practical experience and make a meaningful contribution to the community. Many law students do not get practical legal experience before graduating and articling. Some have never seen the inside of a court or tribunal or understand their procedures.
Working at the Clinic provides law students with hands-on experience as they manage client files and make court or tribunal appearances or provide legal information to community organizations. The Clinic introduces students to issues and skills relevant to the practice of law in a clinic/poverty law setting. Additionally, the Clinic course satisfies the oral advocacy "moot court" requirement of the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law.
Under the supervision of lawyers, caseworkers at the Clinic learn and perform a variety of skills, such as:
- Conducting interviews of clients seeking legal advice and information;
- Conducting legal research on client files;
- Drafting letters, pleadings, memoranda, and other legal documents;
- Negotiating with Crown Attorneys or opposing parties;
- Advocacy at pre-trials, trials, and hearings before courts and tribunals;
- Examining and cross-examining witnesses;
- Preparing and making submissions to a court or tribunal;
- File and practice management;
- Professional responsibility;
- Making presentations on different areas of law to the public;
- Providing tenant duty counsel services at the Landlord and Tenant Board; and
- Assisting women who have been the victims of violence in receiving compensation.
How You Can Participate in the Clinic
First-year law students:
The Clinic holds an open house and information sessions for first-year students, typically in the fall of every year. Students who want to receive general information about the Clinic may attend these sessions. Students will be informed of the date and location of the information sessions in the fall.
Upper year students:
Second and third-year law students are eligible to take the Introductory Legal Aid Clinic course if they have not worked at the Clinic as caseworkers before, while those students who have worked as caseworkers would be registered in the Clinical Legal Aid II or III courses.
The Clinic courses are each worth six credits and last the entire school year. Throughout the courses, caseworkers are evaluated on a pass/fail basis for their work. Caseworker duties include interviewing clients at regular intakes, attending remand court on behalf of clients of the Criminal Division, giving legal education presentations to members of the public, drafting correspondence, meeting with Review Counsel on a regular basis, and conducting research. Students registered in the Introductory Legal Aid Clinic Course also attend a weekly training seminar from September to December.
The Clinic does not conduct drop-in hours for new clients during student exam sessions in December and April, and at the end of January each year so that casework duties do not conflict with examinations and essay deadlines, although caseworkers remain responsible for their files.
Please check our Legal Aid Clinic Courses page for more information regarding the application times and procedures.
A note on January Term:
Clinic duties continue as usual during the January Term each year, although the Clinic does not hold drop-in hours for new clients during the last week of January to accommodate January Term examinations and break. Students cannot register for internships or international courses during the January termas these courses do not allow students to do their work during the January term. Students must, however, register for a regular course during the January term.
Law students also have the opportunity after completing their first year or second year of law school to join the Clinic as a summer student. Please see the Summer Employment.