Clinical and Experiential Learning
Contribute to equity, access to justice, and innovation through action
In addition to the valuable academic and Integrated Practice Curriculum education that students receive in the classroom, the Lincoln Alexander School of Law (LASL) offers students clinical and experiential learning opportunities, which typically involve helping real people with real legal problems.
In line with the Lincoln Alexander School of Law’s four key pillars, these opportunities are offered in relation to equity, access to justice, and innovation and technology. Students have the chance to work with clients, develop practical legal knowledge and skills, and grow their professional legal networks. As part of these opportunities, students typically work on actual cases, research, and/or public legal education materials, under the supervision and guidance of highly skilled lawyers with considerable expertise.
Under the leadership of our inaugural Director of Legal Clinic Programs, the Lincoln Alexander School of Law has also begun the process of developing our own in-house legal clinic. Once the clinic is operational, students will have the chance to work on client files, public legal education projects, and law reform activities, as part of serving equity-seeking communities.
The Lincoln Alexander School of Law’s clinical and experiential learning programs are funded in part by the Law Foundation of Ontario, external link.
2021-22 Clinical and Experiential Learning Opportunities
During the 2021-22 academic year, over 75 students have been or will be placed across 13 clinical and experiential learning opportunities, which include:
The Refugee Law Team offers students a variety of ways to engage with the practice of refugee law. Students are introduced to this area of law and will build and develop practical and litigation skills including client interviewing, reporting to/taking direction from supervising lawyers, legal research and drafting, and oral advocacy. There are 4 options available to students:
- RLO option: students work with lawyers at Legal Aid Ontario’s Refugee Law Office (RLO), assisting their clients with a range of legal issues relating to immigration and refugee law.
- UNHCR option: students work closely with a lead litigator for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, preparing research briefs in support of UN interventions.
- SSP option: students work on a sponsorship support program (SSP) for Afghan refugees, under the supervision of a lawyer.
- Private Practice option: students work closely with a lawyer in private practice, whose refugee law work draws heavily on anti-oppression and trauma-informed frameworks.
The School of Child and Youth Care in Toronto Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Community Services is beginning a new project that aims to address gaps in services for Indigenous youth who are dually involved in the child welfare and youth justice systems in various provinces. This project involves forming a cross-discipline Graduate Student Hub, which will include graduate students from child and youth care, social work, law, psychology and journalism. The overarching goals of the project include reducing the number of Indigenous youth who cross from the child welfare system into the adult criminal justice system; reducing the amount of time Indigenous youth spend in custody and in the youth justice system; offering cross sectoral training (including to those in the justice system) regarding working with Indigenous youth; and encouraging more respectful, equitable, trauma-informed, and anti-oppressive service provision to Indigenous youth.
Fair Change Community Services is a student-run and lawyer-supervised pro bono legal clinic, which supports street-involved individuals in addressing their provincial offence tickets. Fair Change seeks to address clients’ limitations and financial burdens by reducing debt from accrued fines for things like panhandling and loitering. Three Lincoln Alexander School of Law students are leading a Steering Committee to explore the establishment of a Fair Change chapter at Lincoln Alexander School of Law.
This Working Group allows law students to work closely with and support Pro Bono Ontario to create and develop educational material in the consumer protection space. One of the most pressing issues in this space relates to door-to-door sales tactics utilized by companies to take advantage of Canadians, particularly those who are elderly and/or vulnerable. Students from Lincoln Alexander School of Law are supporting Pro Bono Ontario in one of five areas related to these consumer protection issues.
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) is committed to advancing understanding of the challenges and hard choices facing the very large numbers of Canadians who now come to court without counsel. In these placements, students perform a variety of tasks to help the NSRLP to carry out its mandate.
The Health Law Working Group is housed at Lincoln Alexander School of Law, and operates under the Director of Legal Clinic Programs (the “DLCP”). Students are introduced to health and public health law issues that arise in practice, how to litigate health law issues, and other relevant health law topics. This Working Group also involved discussion of and participation in preparation for a health law related case heard at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in November 2021, R v Kirkpatrick, external link, for which the DLCP was the lead lawyer for two interveners in the case.
This clinical opportunity involves a collaboration and partnership between Gilberts LLP and Lincoln Alexander School of Law, which aims to assist low-income and under-represented clients on a pro bono basis to develop their startup companies and ideas. Slingshot is designed to provide community members with the legal tools their businesses need to succeed. This expanding partnership involves law students working with and in the community under the supervision of experienced lawyers in the startup and commercial law space.
Lincoln Alexander School of Law students have joined the DMZ at Toronto Metropolitan University in a part-time paid contract position, which will provide them with an opportunity to get hands-on experience in areas such as business, employment, and securities law, as part of facilitating the provision of legal advice to startup companies in the DMZ incubator programs.
Human Rights Services (HRS) is a unit within the Office of the Vice-President of Equity and Community Inclusion at Toronto Metropolitan University. HRS supports and works with the university community to ensure that study, work, and living environments are free of discrimination and harassment, in accordance with Ontario’s Human Rights Code. One 2L student will join the HRS for the Winter 2022 semester, to conduct human rights-related legal and policy research.
The Young Workers Rights Hub (YWRH) is based out of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Arts, and promotes awareness of young workers’ rights on the job, including how to exercise and advance those rights. Lincoln Alexander Law students will join the YWRH as Student Peer Leaders for the Winter 2022 semester, and will work on various young workers’ rights related projects.
The Lincoln Alexander School of Law awards funding to a number of first and second year students to pursue summer opportunities in areas of law in which they are interested, in collaboration with our funders and partners. These opportunities typically relate to social justice, equity-oriented, and public interest work, including working with Indigenous and other equity-seeking communities. The law school arranges many of these opportunities for students, and students are also able to secure opportunities independently and apply to the law school for funding.
During the summer of 2021, eight students were awarded summer project funding for positions with:
- Atlohsa Healing Services
- Six Nations Justice Department
- Algoma Community Legal Clinic
- Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
- Neighbourhood Legal Services
- Animal Justice
- Landings LLP (immigration and refugee law)
- Visto (a free online platform, which helps international students and skilled workers immigrate to Canada)
Lincoln Alexander Law anticipates that we will be able to expand the Summer Project program for the summer of 2022.