Info for UCalgary Law Students

Join the Clinic

The Public Interest Law Clinic course offers an opportunity to gain real-world litigation and law reform experience in relation to a wide variety of public interest issues, all while earning academic credit.

There is no application process to join the clinic; you enrol through standard course-enrolment procedures. Interested students must enrol in both Law 693 Public Interest Law: Clinical Theory and Law 696 Public Interest Law: Clinical Practice. Law 693 runs twice a week for one semester, and Law 696 runs once a week full year.

Clinic students receive a total of 6 credits, (two HCE). Law 693 is graded, and you obtain 3 credits in the Fall Term. Law 696 is a pass/fail course, and 3 credits are awarded in the Winter Term.

While we can’t control hearing dates and certain file deadlines, we make every effort to plan and smooth out student workflow and assign it carefully to avoid having clinical work compromise any student’s course load. While many students find they have the capacity and interest to advance 696 clinical work between the end of Fall Term classes and the commencement of the Winter Term classes (December and January), we do not assign mandatory work that requires it.


Course Descriptions

Law 693 Public Interest Law: Clinical Theory (Laing)

What is a just Canadian society? Who is and should be shaping it through the legal system? What are the demands of justice and the rule of law? Is the lawyer’s role in the adversarial system necessary and sufficient to serve those demands? What will your role be?

Public Interest Theory explores the underpinnings of public participation in our legal system. Various perspectives illuminate why collective actors and interest groups often fail (and sometimes succeed) in their bid to effect social change through legal advocacy. We identify the philosophical roots for contemporary calls to justice, and discuss relevant aspects of dominant theories of democracy and the rule of law. We learn about legal opportunity structures such as standing rules and costs rules, and understand how they shape the choices individuals and organizations make in their efforts to generate social change. Finally, we wrestle with the notion of public interest lawyering. We explore practical challenges faced by lawyers who serve client, cause, and community at once, and discuss deeply-embedded conventions in legal education, legal practice, and the organized legal profession. We draw examples from prominent cases, Public Interest Law Clinic project files, and the instructors’ experience throughout. Theory without practice is incomplete. Public Interest Theory commences and concludes in the Fall term. If you register in it, you must also register in Law 696: Public Interest Clinical, an experiential companion course that commences in September and occurs once a week during Fall and Winter term classes.

This course meets the Theoretical Perspectives Requirement.

Law 696 Public Interest Law: Clinical Practice (Laing/Yewchuk)

We learn to do by doing. Students in this experiential course work with lawyers at the Public Interest Law Clinic to advance the clinic’s law reform and test litigation projects. Assigned work varies year to year and month to month according to court dates, client needs, and file progress.

Students in the 2019/2020 cohort will be involved in legal research, writing, and advocacy on six projects, each with a distinct public interest purpose:

1. To maximize the ability of individuals and groups to participate effectively in decisions that affect the environment;

2. To establish safeguards to prevent strategic litigation against public participation;

3. To generate effective legal mechanisms that protect habitat in Alberta which threatened species need to survive;

4. To improve every lever available in law to obtain information from public bodies;

5. To change facially neutral laws that disproportionately affect the disadvantaged; and

6. To generate opportunities for civil society organizations to intervene effectively in appellate cases.


Summer Opportunities

The clinic typically accepts one JD summer student from the University of Calgary. The job posting usually goes up in mid-March. We frequently hire students who have previously taken the clinic courses, but clinical experience with PILC is not strictly required.

Summer opportunities