Public Legal Education

The legal profession has a responsibility to disseminate information about the rights and responsibilities of individuals, especially when it comes to interactions that involve power imbalances. A placement focused on Public Legal Education aims to accomplish this goal by allowing students to become involved in determining the needs of surrounding communities. Students will also have the opportunity to create materials with legal information in various areas of law, in addition to travelling to several community organizations to deliver Public Legal Education workshops.

List of Projects

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) - PLE (*NEW*)

Butterfly was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals. It provides support to, and advocates for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. The organization is founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and basic human rights. Butterfly asserts that, regardless of their immigration status, Asian and migrant sex workers should be treated like all other workers.

In partnership with the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC), Butterfly would like a student to research, draft, and create Public Legal Education materials for a workshop series directed towards migrant sex workers and service providers.

The student will research the current state of the law in Ontario and across Canada, recent changes to legislation, and current developments on legal issues pertinent to sex workers and service providers. This information will be vetted and the student will assist the supervisor in creating a workshop/presentation using their research; they will conduct supervised legal information sessions for Butterfly and CSALC.

While helping to build the workshop materials for this “Know Your Rights” campaign, the student will be required to sit in on planning meetings and student committee meetings to update each committee and openly discuss their findings.

How Many Students?

1 student

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Legal Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

2Ls, 3Ls

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is a remote project, with the exception of when the student is conducting a workshop or when committee meetings are scheduled.

 

Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) - PLE (*NEW*)

CERA works to advance housing security and human rights in housing for tenants, and to promote the human right to housing across Ontario. We defend housing rights and human rights by providing direct services to marginalized Ontarians; educating individuals and communities; and, advancing progressive and inclusive housing law and policy.

Students will be trained on and deliver public legal education sessions to educate renters about their rights under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Audiences include client organizations throughout the community that serve predominantly vulnerable communities and marginalized populations. Should questions arise during these sessions when the supervising lawyer is not onsite, students will forward questions directly to their supervisor to be answered.

Students will develop skills in the following areas:

  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism
  • Housing and human rights law
  • Presentation skills

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education

Who Can Apply?

2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Experience with and comfort in delivering presentations.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

Preparation work (research) will be done remotely. CERA will work with students to schedule presentations in accordance with their availability. Once a presentation has been scheduled, CERA expects that the students will deliver the presentation in accordance with the schedule

 

Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers 

The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL) is a diverse coalition of Asian Canadian legal professionals who promote equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian Canadian legal professionals and the broader community. FACL fosters advocacy, community involvement, legal scholarship and professional development.

FACL has developed a community outreach program which works remotely. The goal of the program is to determine the needs of various Asian communities and present PLEs with legal information on these matters. Common topics for students to present on include wills and landlord-tenant law, but students may present on any areas of interest to the populations that they are serving.

Additionally, students will perform community outreach to communicate with organizations in the GTA to develop new projects. Students will learn about the needs of the community and develop presentations to present to individuals in that community.

Under guidance of qualified review counsel, students will conduct legal research into the legal issues selected and will work with review counsel and FACL members to create and deliver Public Legal Education materials and presentations.

Students will conduct a mock presentation before a supervising lawyer and discuss methods of delivering a PLE. Students will coordinate PLE’s and outreach activities and may conduct up to two supervised PLE’s. The students may conduct the PLE’s together.

How Many Students?

2-3 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Students should be able to communicate professionally in Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, or Cantonese.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is mostly a remote project, though students must be available for certain dates and times to present the PLE workshops.

 

Fetal Alcohol System Disorder (FASD) and the Justice System

FASD and the Justice System provides information and resources about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including background information, case law, legal resources and strategies for effective intervention. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term for the leading causes of mental and developmental disabilities in the Western world. A person with FASD always has permanent brain damage, though obvious physical effects are usually absent. The result is that FASD is often invisible to the untrained eye.

FASD presents many difficult challenges across the judicial system, from arrest through to correctional processes. The objective of the website is to provide information to help ensure that justice system professionals will be better informed in their contact with persons with FASD who enter the justice system as accused, victims or witnesses, and better equipped to respond appropriately to the challenges. The students will be working remotely on projects that include:

  • conducting regular searches for case law related to FASD (criminal law and child welfare specifically)
  • conducting research to find new reports and resources
  • looking into other research topics as identified by the steering committee
  • help with social media outreach (Twitter and Facebook)

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is a remote project.

 

For Youth Initiative (*NEW*)

The For Youth Initiative (FYI) seeks to empower youth, facilitating change in their lives in order to strengthen their communities. To that end, FYI is expanding the scope of their youth-oriented services to include empowering young persons with legal information on issues commonly faced by community members.

Students will be conducting criminal law/youth justice PLEs for young members of the York-South Weston community and their families.  FYI’s advisory committee will inform the students on common criminal law issues faced by young persons of the community, which the students will research and develop into “Know Your Rights” campaigns in the form of supervised PLE workshops.   PLEs in other areas of law may be developed in response to community interest and need.

Students will conduct their research and build their presentation materials in the Fall semester, with a lawyer vetting their work throughout. The PLE workshops will begin in the Winter, first in-house at FYI but then may expand to partner organizations in the community. The lawyer will be on hand for each of these presentations to field any questions that may arise from community members.

How Many Students?

2-3 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Legal Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

A demonstrated interest in criminal law, youth justice, and/or social justice issues is preferred.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is a remote project, though there is space at the organization's office to work. PLEs can be conducted onsite.

 

John Howard Society of Toronto - Court Resources Project (*NEW*)

The John Howard Society of Toronto is committed to providing and developing programs to reduce the social, economic and personal costs of crime. The Society is dedicated to helping all people in conflict with the law and individuals at imminent risk of coming into conflict with the law through service, education and community programs.

The John Howard Society’s Partner Assault Response (PAR) Referral Program has a presence in all 5 of Toronto’s major criminal courthouses. Here, accused persons have to make difficult decisions about how to resolve their criminal charges before the court. One such way is through the PAR Program after they have been referred by the Crown. However, even after consulting Duty Counsel, accused persons may need to review and process what they have learned in a way that is digestible and easy for them to understand.

Students will research, draft, and create dynamic plain language resources for accused persons to access when JHS staff meet them during the PAR Intake process and beyond. These resources will detail plain language information on common but complicated topics, such as what a Peace Bond or Discharge is, in order to provide accused persons with the most up-to-date, relevant, and accessible legal information.

Students may also have the opportunity to assist JHS in creating and publishing plain language resources on their website to reach a broader audience of people. Any and all materials produced or published online by the students and/or produced for use as legal information during client meetings must be reviewed by the supervising lawyer prior to dissemination.

Ultimately, the JHS’s goal is that this project allows for more thoughtful, informed decision-making on the part of accused persons when they have plain language legal information at their disposal that is sorely missing in the courts system.

How Many Students?

1-2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Legal Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Any additional languages are considered an asset.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is a remote project.

 

Korean Legal Clinic (*NEW*)

The Korean Canadian Lawyers Association (KCLA) is looking to establish the Korean Legal Clinic, a brand-new pilot project that seeks to address the specific legal needs of members of Toronto’s growing Korean community.

In preparation for the launch of this clinic, students will assist their supervisor in building an online database of legal resources relevant to Toronto’s Korean community. Students will take the legal issues identified during discussions with their supervisor and research the applicable Ontario or federal legislation, case law, and policy that informs those issues. These findings will be put into memos for their supervisor to approve and upload to the clinic’s website.

In addition to memos, students will also take their research and compile plain language resources such as charts, pamphlets, and other accessible resources to clearly explain relevant legal information. When the clinic is established, these plain language resources can be used to inform the clinic’s clients of their rights on the various legal issues relevant to the Korean community. These resources may also be uploaded to the online database, subject to the discretion of the supervisor.

Depending on the KCLA’s capacity, the students may also be asked to:

  1. take the lawyer-reviewed materials they have produced and present them in legal information sessions (PLEs) to members of the community. For any specific questions that arise from attendees during the sessions, the supervising lawyer will be in attendance to answer them; and/or
  2. conduct intakes with new clients, should the clinic launch prior to the end of this project

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Legal Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Fluency in Korean is strongly preferred. Familiarity with the Korean community’s culture is an asset.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is mostly a remote project. PLEs would take place at partner organizations, and any client intake that may occur would take place at the clinic site (TBD).

 

Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission

Through the legislative process of the NWT’s Legislative Assembly, Bill 30, which included major amendments to the NWT Human Rights Act, recently passed its third reading. Consequently, the Commission needs assistance in conducting legal research in the following areas:

  • Best Practices in conducting systemic discrimination investigations, in particular racial discrimination
  • The public interest as it relates to Human Rights law – what is it? (General essay/case law search and analysis for the Commission)
  • Identifying relevant international human rights instruments and how it can impact domestic law
  1. Assessing their influence on domestic law (i.e. Baker v. Canada)
  • Identifying general criteria for assessing “reasonable offers” for settlement

This research will be conducted by students and presented in the form of memos for the Commission. It will feed directly into creating training materials and processes for the NWT Human Rights Commission’s decision-makers, who are members of the public that serve those whose rights have been negatively impacted. As such, the Commission requests that all research supplied by students be written in plain language.

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Students should have demonstrated passion for human rights and equality. Familiarity with Indigenous and northern issues is an asset. Students should have an understanding, or lived experience, of diversity and inclusion. Volunteer or work experience in legal research and in plain language also considered an asset.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is a remote project.

 

METRAC

METRAC is an Ontario based non-profit organization (located in Toronto) that has worked for more than thirty years to prevent violence against women and youth.  Our current violence prevention activities are focused on advancing safety, justice, and equity to end gender-based violence through outreach and education, personal and community safety initiatives, research, and social policy work.  METRAC’s Community Justice Program develops and delivers legal information and education to marginalized communities as well as to community service providers, about the law and legal system relevant to issues of gender-based violence.

Students will prepare for and provide Public Legal Education (PLE) presentations at Toronto area community groups, including shelters for women who have been exposed to violence. Students will work with METRAC’s legal information materials, doing research and adapting presentation materials as needed. PLE presentations will explain various aspects of the law and legal process that women are likely to encounter, and may be related to information on the OWJN and FLEW websites.

The final output of the project will be PLE powerpoints with handouts, which will be used by the student to give a minimum of two legal information presentations in the community. Students are expected to commit to completing these outputs by the end of the PBSC project (March 31, 2020), and no later than August 31, 2020 if an extension is requested.

 

Note: Student must be available to attend these mandatory training sessions in order to volunteer for this project:

  • Introduction to the Project with Lawyer Supervisor Roxana Parsa will be held on Monday, October 7, 2019 from 5-6:30 pm
  • Introduction to Trauma, Triggering and Self-care with guest presenter Tuesday, October 15, 2019 from 3:30-5:30 pm

Other training dates will be scheduled to accommodate student schedules.

All trainings will be held at METRAC’s offices at 158 Spadina Rd. (south of Dupont).  There is easy access to subway and street parking.

How Many Students

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education.

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Students must be based in Toronto where METRAC’s offices are located, in order to attend trainings in-person, and to give in-person presentations in the GTA community.  Given the sensitivity of a shelter environment and working with women exposed to violence, this PBSC placement is limited to woman-identified volunteers.

Students must have an awareness of and interest in social justice, human rights, feminism, anti-oppression, and violence against women issues. Previous experience with plain language communications and/or community presentations is considered an asset.

Candidates should have demonstrated ability to work independently.

It would be helpful for students to have a basic understanding of one or more of:  family law; immigration law; labour/employment law; human rights law; privacy law; criminal law, especially as it may impact on survivors of gender-based violence.

Experience with public presentations in plain, accessible language is also considered an asset, but is not essential as training on these skills will be provided.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is mostly a remote project, with students required to attend mandatory training sessions at the organization (158 Spadina Road, Toronto, ON). Students will also have to attend any of their scheduled workshops in the community.

 

Pro Bono Podcast

The Pro Bono Podcast Project is a podcast, prepared and presented by law students. Podcasts will last approximately 30 minutes and will discuss important legal issues or occasionally interesting and off-centre legal topics, which relate to one of the existing PBSC projects, to stimulate interest and provide information. Students will choose a topic/PBSC partner organization, contact guest speakers, determine the interview agenda, develop interview questions, and conduct the interviews on-air. The podcast will inform the public by providing various perspectives on a topical legal issue in an accessible way, while highlighting the PBSC project and partner organization.

Students will also be responsible for advertising the podcast and the episodes. The students will post on social media about the podcast and the episodes to generate interest for their podcast before its release. Students will be responsible for editing the episode, drafting a description of the podcast and posting it on their website and on each school’s respective social media accounts. The podcast can also be aired on the school’s radio station if available.

The PBSC disclaimer regarding legal information vs legal advice must be read before every show and clearly stated on any Pro Bono Radio websites/online content.

How Many Students?

8 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Experience in broadcasting or podcasting is an asset, but not required. Students are expected to work in a team, conduct legal research and be comfortable preparing and presenting a podcast.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

Flexible hours are possible for research since it can be done remotely, but the recording facilities at Osgoode are to be used at specific times as determined by the students and the Podcast Project Coordinator.

 

 

Romero House

Romero House works with refugee claimants: people who claim refugee status after arriving in Canada. It provides transitional housing, where refugee families live with us for the one year after their arrival, in which time they are accompanied in navigating the refugee determination process and establishing their lives in Canada. Romero House also has walk-in programs, which includes clothing boutiques, and assistance with: settlement assistance, accessing legal aid, finding lawyers, refugee claim process, accessing education, and accessing social assistance.

Romero House works with refugee claimants: people who claim refugee status after arriving in Canada. It provides transitional housing, where refugee families live with us for the one year after their arrival, in which time they are accompanied in navigating the refugee determination process and establishing their lives in Canada. Romero House also has walk-in programs, which includes clothing boutiques, and assistance with: settlement assistance, accessing legal aid, finding lawyers, refugee claim process, accessing education, and accessing social assistance.

The students will have the opportunity to assist with navigating the refugee determination process and to provide client assistance to walk-ins. The students will do so by researching and creating legal information materials/resources that can be used to provide these clients with legal information before they meet with Romero House staff for the full intake.

The students may also be asked to assist with filling out forms related to the refugee determination process.

The students can work on preparing a workshop if a specific need arises for one and if time permits.

All materials/resources drafted by students will first undergo review and approval by the supervising lawyer before being provided to Romero House for use as legal information and/or being used in workshop presentations.

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Client Assistance (Pre-Intake Process)

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Interest in immigration and refugee law; volunteer or work experience with working with vulnerable groups or immigration and refugee related field – knowledge/experience/background in working with refugees and newcomers. Preferably knowledge on immigration and refugee system of Canada, tenant rights, accessing to social assistance. The job will require skills to navigate different systems and resources that are involved in resettlement process.

Fluency in Arabic or Spanish would be an asset.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

Shifts are at Romero House, which is located at 1558 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON.

 

The Empowerment Council - Systemic Advocates in Mental Health & Addiction  (*NEW*)

The Empowerment Council (“Council”) is a voice for clients/survivors and ex-clients of mental health addiction services, primarily of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

To assist them in promoting this mandate, the Council would like a student to conduct legal research and prepare and internal memorandum on the following question:

How does the law, in its various forms, support or hinder the inclusion of mental health clients in the hospital and community sector?

This project aims to explore and identify what legal discourse exists which meaningfully supports advocacy and upholds the voices of mental health service users. The student should consider this issue in the context of a right to health care, the recent increase in cuts to Legal Aid, and the major reorganizing of the Ministry of Health’s services.

As part of this process, the student will be researching legislation and cases pertaining to:

  1. The Excellent Health Care For All Act (ECFAA);
  2. The newly created Ontario Health Agency;
  3. The Duty to Consult;
  4. The Duty to Accommodate;
  5. E-Health and privacy;
  6. Corresponding international laws such as the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

Related secondary tasks include:

i) compiling their findings into accessible info sheets, pamphlets, or other plain language resources to better inform clients of their rights related to mental health; and

ii)  organizing educational PLE sessions to engage clients of CAMH and the wider public in supervised “Know Your Rights” workshops

All legal memoranda, educational resources, presentation slides and other produced content will be reviewed and approved by the supervising lawyer prior to being used as part of the partnering organizations educational outreach initiatives.

How Many Students?

1 student

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Legal Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Courses in refugee or immigration law, poverty law, mental health/disability law, and/or Aboriginal law are considered an asset.

Strong research and writing skills. The organization is also very open to working with students who are mental health service users themselves.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

Some work will be completed onsite (at 160-1001 Queen Street West) and some can be completed remotely, as decided by the supervisor.

 

 

Toronto Community Benefits Network 

The Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) envisions Toronto as an inclusive, thriving city in which all residents have equitable opportunities to contribute to healthy communities and a prospering economy. With a focus on community groups located near Eglinton Crosstown line or the Finch West LRT line, TCBN’s primary objectives are to:

  1. Provide equitable economic opportunities that promote economic inclusion for all Toronto residents
  2. Contribute to the development of a system of training and workforce development programs that can enable economic inclusion
  3. Support social enterprises and other related vehicles to economic inclusion through commitments to social procurement
  4. Contribute to sustainable communities with neighbourhood and environmental improvements built through new transit infrastructure.
  5. Ensure clear commitments and accountability from all parties to deliver on Community Benefits.

PBSC students, along with students involved with the TCBN Black Young Professionals Project, will have an opportunity to participate in scheduled focus groups (administered by TCBN staff and the students). The students will then identify the main legal issues/needs of community entrepreneurs discussed during the focus groups.

The students will then conduct legal research to provide up-to-date information for the organization’s website and blog. They will create plain language resources about legislative changes, legal processes (such as assisting with various contracts, agreements, incorporations), and legal terminologies for community entrepreneurs. These resources will be reviewed by the supervising lawyer prior to their use by the organization.

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Interest in entrepreneurship, employment/labour law, corporate law.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

Ideally, students will attend their office at 2 Champagne Drive, Suite C9, North York, ON.

 

 

Toronto Community Benefits Network – Black Young Professionals Project

The Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) envisions Toronto as an inclusive, thriving city in which all residents have equitable opportunities to contribute to healthy communities and a prospering economy. With a focus on community groups located near Eglinton Crosstown line or the Finch West LRT line, TCBN’s primary objectives are to:

  1. Provide equitable economic opportunities that promote economic inclusion for all Toronto residents
  2. Contribute to the development of a system of training and workforce development programs that can enable economic inclusion
  3. Support social enterprises and other related vehicles to economic inclusion through commitments to social procurement
  4. Contribute to sustainable communities with neighbourhood and environmental improvements built through new transit infrastructure.
  5. Ensure clear commitments and accountability from all parties to deliver on Community Benefits.

In partnership with PBSC, this project will assist in leveraging the skills and education of Black youth to develop the capacity of TCBN’s social enterprise members and participating minority owned companies to access procurement opportunities.

PBSC students, along with students involved with the TCBN joint project, will participate in scheduled focus groups with individuals leading social enterprises and minority owned businesses that will be administered by TCBN staff and the students. The students will then identify the main legal issues/needs of community entrepreneurs discussed during the focus groups. Once the needs and issues have been identified, these students will research and develop a plain language legal rights presentation and a workshop to be delivered as part TCBN’s outreach to social enterprises and minority owned businesses. These public legal education presentations and workshops will include plain language information (that has been approved by the supervising lawyer) about legal terminology and legal procedures that small business owners may find helpful (creating partnerships, bidding for projects, labour/employment laws). Any legal questions raised during the workshops will be recorded by TCBN staff and the students and directed to the lawyer supervisor, who will respond to them directly or through TCBN.

Additionally, throughout this project, TCBN will leverage its close relationship with the contractors and other organizations supporting Community Benefits Agreements to provide access for young Black professionals to targeted training, workplace experience, occupational mentorship, career advancement opportunities, and wrap-around supports. Through these experiences, they will develop the skills, experience, credentials, and networks to advance in their careers.

How Many Students?

3 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education

Who Can Apply?

2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Interest in entrepreneurship and small businesses. Candidates should be interested in developing local and diverse businesses.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

Their office at 2 Champagne Drive, Suite C9.

 

Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution -- Community ADR Database (*NEW*)

There are a variety of challenges that impact parties who are looking to resolve legal and interpersonal conflicts. One prominent challenge is accessing relevant, plain language information that can help inform an individual on their legal options when it comes to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Students will work with the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution in building an online database dedicated to housing publicly accessible resources for ADR. This database is an idea that comes out of a variety of community roundtable that have taken place over the past year as a part of a partnership between the Institute, the Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Canada and ADRIA (the ADR Institute of Alberta). Students will research relevant articles, case law, civil procedures, and common court practices related to the intersections of ADR and the law (i.e. family law, civil suits) to assist in this endeavour.

In addition to playing a crucial role in the Winkler Institute’s new database, the students will also use their findings to create plain language resources (i.e. charts, brochures, summary sheets)  that can be distributed to clients of the Osgoode Mediation Clinic, community organizations, and individuals looking for legal information on ADR.

How Many Students?

2 students

What kind of Project?

Public Legal Education / Legal Research & Writing

Who Can Apply?

1Ls, 2Ls, 3Ls

Prerequisites / Assets?

Exposure to or knowledge of ADR practices would be an asset but is not required to be a successful candidate. Experience with creating online resources/databases would also be an asset.

Where Will You be Volunteering?

This is a remote project.