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TradeLab is an independent, non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva that brings together a global network of academic institutions and experienced legal professionals.

About TradeLab

The University of Ottawa Common Law Section and the Queen’s University Faculty of Law operate a joint international economic law clinic as part of the TradeLab network. TradeLab is an independent, non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva that brings together a global network of academic institutions and experienced legal professionals. It aims to empower developing countries, international organizations, and smaller stakeholders to reap the full benefits of global trade and investment rules.

Through pro bono legal clinics, TradeLab connects students and experienced legal professionals with government agencies, international organizations, small and medium-sized enterprises, and civil society organizations (NGOs) to build lasting legal capacity. Through ‘learning by doing’, TradeLab helps to train and promote the next generation of trade and investment lawyers. By providing information and support on negotiations, compliance and litigation, it strives to make WTO, preferential trade, and international investment treaties work for everyone.

Tradelab has three organizational components: Legal Clinics, an Online Platform and Research. By utilizing innovations in internet technologies and legal education, TradeLab provides pro bono legal work in four key areas – Information, Negotiation, Compliance and Litigation.

A University of Ottawa TradeLab clinic was founded by Professor Debra Steger in 2014. The uOttawa-Queen’s Joint International Economic Law Clinic began operation in the Winter 2018 term with Professor Steger and Valerie Hughes from Queen’s as the co-directors. Professor Tony VanDuzer takes over as the uOttawa co-director for 2018-2019. Professor Steger continues to be actively involved as a member of TradeLab’s Executive  Committee

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How it Works

Projects undertaken by the Joint uOttawa-Queen’s TradeLab International Economic Law Clinic (the “Clinic”) address actual requests for assistance received from beneficiaries, most of whom will likely be based in Canada, but could also include developing countries, international organizations, or other stakeholders in need, such as NGOs or SMEs. Projects to be pursued by students will be selected on the legal/policy relevance, basis of need, and capacity/availability of resources.

Two to four students are assigned to each project. Students are teamed up with expert mentors from law firms, government agencies, or other organizations. In addition, students are carefully supervised by academic supervisors who provide instruction in a classroom setting. Students develop specialized skills (legal writing, editing and oral presentation), conduct detailed legal research and prepare several drafts of their memoranda to be shared with supervisors, mentors and beneficiaries for comments and feedback. The Clinic culminates in a professional quality legal memorandum, brief, draft law, treaty text or other output tailored to the beneficiary’s needs.

The Clinic typically delivers outputs in in one academic term. Depending on the beneficiary’s instructions, work and output may be provided on a public or strictly confidential basis. Safeguards are put in place to ensure that beneficiaries are made aware that any advice and assistance is provided by students engaged in a pedagogical exercise who are not qualified legal practitioners. The assistance provided thus does not constitute professional legal advice. As a result, memoranda and other work products cannot in any way bind, or lead to any form of liability or responsibility for, its authors, the supervisors of the clinic, the universities or the funders of the clinic. All work will include the appropriate disclaimers.

For the uOttawa-Queen’s Joint International Economic Law Clinic brochure, please click here: English versionFrench version.


The uOttawa-Queen’s Joint International Economic Law Clinic was established in 2017. The clinic is co-directed by Professor Tony VanDuzer of the University of Ottawa and Professor Valerie Hughes of Queen’s University.

TradeLab publications