Information for Students

The Public Interest Law Clinic is a teaching program that offers a unique experiential learning experience to upper-year law students.  At the Clinic, students learn the skills and strategies required to become successful public interest lawyers in today’s legal landscape. Students are involved at every stage of the file and gain real-world litigation and law reform experience in relation to a wide variety of public interest issues.

The Public Interest Law Clinical was an incredibly valuable experience for me and is one of the reasons I chose to study law at the University of Calgary. Through the work I did on the Orphaned Well file, I learned practical skills and was able to see connections between the legal work I was doing and the theoretical concepts I was learning in my classes.

Clinic student, 2017/2018

Through the Clinic, students are exposed to a wide variety of public interest issues and gain a deeper understanding of how these issues affect the public at large and disadvantaged groups that may suffer greater harm. The Clinic is dedicated to training the next generation of public interest lawyers, who are committed to advocating for a society that values and respects all people and the environment in which we live.

Many of our past Clinic students have continued working with the Public Interest Law Clinic in some capacity after their clinical term was completed, and even more have incorporated public interest law into their legal careers.

Public Interest Law Courses

Students who wish to participate in the Public Interest Law Clinic enroll for two courses: Public Interest Theory and Public Interest Practice.

This course examines questions related to the public interest such as: What is justice? What is democracy? What is the rule of law? What is the lawyer’s role in the search for justice, upholding democracy, or adhering to the rule of law? Is the law inherently political?

The course explores aspects of legal and political theory relevant to public interest lawyering, and as such fulfils the Theoretical Perspectives requirement in the JD program. The course examines access to justice issues such as standing rules and costs awards, and also analyzes how these procedural mechanisms shape and constrain efforts within legal process to generate social change or advocate in the public interest. Law 616 grapples with the notion of public interest lawyering and the unique problems faced by lawyers trying to use legal process to foster social change. The course also explores the practical challenges faced by lawyers who serve client, cause, and community. 

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-toyear and month-to-month according to court dates, client needs, emergent issues, and file progress. 

I want to be the kind of lawyer that sets precedents. I want to commit myself to social justice lawyering – not just when I have ‘free’ time as a lawyer but try to incorporate it as a core aspect of my profession.

Clinic student, 2015/2016