By: Edmonton Community Legal Centre staff
Happy 10th Anniversary to “Low Income Individuals in the Law”! Since September 2010, 2nd and 3rd year law students from the University of Alberta have participated in this clinical/seminar class, with the clinical portion hosted by the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and Legal Aid Alberta. Law students assist staff lawyers in their legal representation of low-income people, developing skills and understanding of the legal issues faced by marginalized people. Each student contributes 8 hours each week, for a total of 196 hours of clinical service per student over the academic year.
The eight students hosted by the ECLC each year contribute hours of service equivalent to a 1.1 FTE staff position. This greatly increases our not-for-profit organization’s capacity for client representation. Students assist our staff lawyers with all aspects of open file administration including interviewing clients, doing file research and document drafting, and accompanying clients to hearings. This hands-on mentored exposure to poverty law and the work of the ECLC helps to ensure a continued commitment to pro bono legal service once these students formally enter the profession.
Over 120 students have participated in the class since it began in September 2010, half of which were hosted by the ECLC. Once these students become practicing lawyers, 73% of them have returned to the ECLC as volunteer lawyers, providing free legal advice to low income people at our daily legal clinics. This fantastic result speaks to the long-term access to justice value of the program.
Happy 10th anniversary to all the students, and the program partners from the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, Legal Aid Alberta and the Edmonton Community Legal Centre!