Information for Law Students
Law students work as caseworkers at 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 gaining practical 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. 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. Most law students do not get practical legal experience before graduating and articling. Many 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. 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, including:
How You Can Participate in the Clinic
First-year law students:
Law students interested in joining the Clinic and taking the Legal Aid Clinic courses or applying for a summer job at the Clinic may gain familiarity and experience through the Clinic's "Law Student Orientation Program." This Program pairs up first-year law students ("orientees") with caseworkers at the Clinic, and introduces the orientees to Clinic activities by allowing them to observe and assist caseworkers working on client files. A Clinic orientee may accompany caseworkers to court and tribunal appearances, sit in on client interviews and file reviews, and assist in research and the drafting of correspondence to clients and other parties.
There is no set commitment of hours required of orientees at the Clinic. Instead, orientees are free to coordinate with their caseworkers to determine good times to meet, depending on such factors as class times and intake schedules. There are, however, two mandatory training sessions in September and October for those interested in the Clinic Law Student Orientation Program, and announcements are made well in advance.
Starting in January of your first year of law school, you should start thinking about whether you would like to take the Clinic course and/or apply to the Clinic for a summer job. Notices will be posted regarding hiring at the Clinic in the winter that will provide details on how to apply for summer employment as a caseworker. Interviews take place in February. In March, the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law holds a course fair informing students of the courses being offered in the next year, and the Clinic regularly sends staff and students to the fair to provide information and advice, and distribute handouts regarding the Clinic courses.
Second and third-year law students:
Second-year law students are also welcomed into the Law Student Orientation Program if they wish to gain experience and familiarity with the Clinic, but they are encouraged to take the Introductory Legal Aid Clinic Course instead. 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 can register 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 in a specific division. 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 closes during December and April of each year so that casework duties do not conflict with examinations and essay deadlines, although caseworkers remain responsible for their files.
A note on January Term:
Clinic duties continue as usual during the January Term each year, although the Clinic does close during the last week of January to accommodate January Term examinations. Students cannot register for internships during the January term.
The Clinic Courses
CML 3248 - Introductory Legal Aid Clinic Course
Method of evaluation:
The University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic provides legal assistance to low-income area residents and to students at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. It also provides clinical legal experience to law students, helping them develop skill and confidence as legal professionals. Skills development in interviewing and advising clients, negotiation, legal drafting, advocacy before the Small Claims Court, the Ontario Court of Justice, various boards, and file and practice management and professional conduct.
Responsibilities include carriage of client files, participation in a rotating schedule of intake clinics (Mondays and Wednesdays, from 19:00 to 21:30; Thursdays from 14:00 to 16:00), remand court, duty counsel, community legal education, division meetings and clinic administrative duties. Intakes are divided among students who must keep at least two of the three intake slots open in order to fulfill intake obligations. Seminar classes are held weekly from September to December, and casework is done on a variable schedule from September to April.
If you wish to apply for the CML 3248 course, please consult the “Course Applications 2008” section on the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic website at: http://www.uottawa.ca/associations/clinic/eng/main.htm.
CML 3449 - Clinical Legal Aid II
Method of evaluation:
Open to division leaders at the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic. Clinical responsibilities include carriage of client files, community legal education and outreach, intake clinics (Mondays and Wednesdays, from 19:00 to 21:30; Thursdays, from 14:00 to 16:00), remand court, duty counsel, division meetings and clinic administrative duties. Intakes are divided among students who must keep at least two of the three slots open in order to fulfill intake obligations.
CML 3450 - Clinical Legal Aid III
Method of evaluation:
Open to division leaders at the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic who have already completed CML3449 - Clinical Legal Aid II. Clinical responsibilities include carriage of client files, community legal education and outreach, intake clinics (Mondays and Wednesdays, from 19:00 to 21:30 ; Thursdays, from 14:00 to 16:00), remand court, duty counsel, division meetings and clinic administrative duties. Intakes are divided among students who must keep at least two of the three slots open in order to fulfill intake obligations.
Law students in their first or second year of Common Law (English and French sections) are encouraged to apply for summer employment at the Clinic. Notices about the summer hiring process will be circulated in January of each year, inviting students to submit a resume, their grades, and a cover letter describing why they are interested in working at the Clinic and indicating their preference of divisions. Interviews take place in February, and offers are made shortly afterwards.
In selecting candidates, the Clinic considers factors such as:
A summer job at the Clinic is an opportunity to work full-time on client files or community legal education and gain practical legal skills in a collegial and supportive environment. Students in the summer work very closely with Review Counsel due to the small group size and regular hours, and consequently gain significant experience with Clinic files and legal procedure in that time. Students who work at the Clinic in the summer must return as caseworkers in the Clinical Legal Aid II or III course in the following year, where they will continue their casework while providing a mentoring role for new students as Division Leaders.
© University of Ottawa
If you are looking for additional information, please contact us.
Technical questions or comments about this site?