Experiential Learning Opportunities
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 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) .
2022-23 Experiential Learning Opportunities
During the 2022-23 academic year, over 85 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.
- CCVT option: Students will work with caseworkers at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT), and affiliated lawyers, to assist the Centre’s clients. The students will primarily be helping to file sponsorship applications, and will also help with other kinds of immigration and refugee law work.
- 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. Student advocates provide legal support and representation at pre-hearing negotiations, hearings of first instance, and appeal hearings to reduce fines. Four Lincoln Alexander School of Law student coordinators established the law school’s chapter, which is in its inaugural year.
Lincoln Alexander Law is partnering with TMU’s Legal Innovation Zone (“LIZ”) to provide students with the opportunity to work closely with a start-up and support their legal and entrepreneurial initiatives. Successful applicants will get matched with a start-up that is part of the LIZ incubator program. Students will have the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams, which may consist of CEOs, lawyers, engineers, etc. This opportunity will provide students with exposure to the ins and outs of a legal start-up environment.
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 Pardons Clinic will allow students to gain hands-on experiences with helping qualifying individuals to remove their criminal convictions from police databases, provincial and national databases, and customs and border agencies. Record suspensions, often referred to as “pardons”, are submitted to the Parole Board of Canada for approval. Record suspensions can provide many individuals with the opportunity to remove some of the barriers that they may face as a result of a criminal record, such as the ability to access employment, housing, loans, and even the ability to remain in the country or gain citizenship. The Clinic will aim to ease the stress, difficulty of navigating the application process, and financial costs that can be associated with seeking a record suspension, while providing students with a valuable clinical learning experience.
Transformative justice represents a shift in perspective occurring alongside new age movements for liberation, self-determination, and healing from social-political injustices. Centering the voices of those directly impacted, transformative justice provides an opportunity to re-imagine law, what it means to lawyer, and what it means to be in relationship with one another across the legal landscape, especially while engaging and addressing conflict. As part of the Transformative Justice Working Group, students will lead learning circles focused on understanding practical alternatives to punitive based legal systems and explore the relationships between legal practice, social work, mutual aid, systems reform, and abolition, in order to inform their lawyering going forward. Students will contribute research to a transformative justice database and engage in outreach with other organizations working in spaces of transformation.
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 2022, 12 students were awarded summer project funding for positions with:
The Ministry of the Attorney General’s (MAG) Debwewin Summer Program, with students placed at:
- The Survivor’s Secretariat
- Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services Corporation
- MAG - Indigenous Justice Division
- The Community Justice Collective
- Neighbourhood Legal Services
- Justice for Children and Youth
- Fair Change Community Services
- The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
- The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
As part of these opportunities, students were able to participate in many experiential aspects of legal work, including preparing memoranda of law to support case work, performing case law and policy research, preparing public legal education materials, working directly with clients, preparing written legal submissions, and attending tribunal hearings.