Do you want to represent clients in a courtroom in your first year of law school? How about help a client receive compensation for a human rights violation? How would like to help somebody who cannot afford legal assistance with their legal issue, from their first intake all the way to a settlement hearing, tribunal hearing, or even a full criminal trial?
If you want to get out of the classroom and learn real-life client management, document drafting, and practical litigation skills, be sure to volunteer with the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP)!
LSLAP is a student-run clinical program based out of the law school with 50 years of history. We are the second-largest provider of free legal services in British Columbia after Legal Aid and the only volunteer program at Allard where 1Ls can help and represent clients with their real-life legal matters. LSLAP is the largest volunteer program at Allard and is well-known in the legal community.
HOW IT WORKS
After a short training period at the start of the year, clinicians are assigned to clinics that take place once every two weeks across the Greater Vancouver Area. Under the supervision of a student clinic head or volunteer supervising lawyer, clinicians perform intake interviews with clients, gathering information on their legal issues. Students then perform independent research on the legal issues with the help of our helpful guides and experienced clinicians before meeting with one of our dedicated program supervising lawyers. All legal advice is run through these supervising lawyers before they are given to the client. This system means that new students have an experienced supervising lawyer acting as a safety net and checking their work.
In practice, we actually operate a lot like a law firm: we track our time, manage files, and report to supervising lawyers (as you will likely do with future principles or managing partners).
REAL EXPERIENCE IN VARIOUS AREAS OF LAW
We provide advice and representation on numerous areas of the law, including: small claims, residential tenancy, criminal law, employment standards, workers’ compensation, consumer protection, wills and estates, and immigration and refugee. No matter your field of interest, there are incredible real-life experiences to be gained through LSLAP. And if you have no idea what kind of law you want to do, there is no better way to learn than trying each area out for yourself!
COURTROOM AND TRIBUNAL EXPERIENCE
If you are interested in litigation, you could run your own hearing by the end of the term, or even an entire criminal law trial! We have represented clients at hearings with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, Residential Tenancy Branch, Workers’ Compensation Board, Immigration and Refugee Board, and more.
1L EXPERIENCES YOU CAN ONLY GET WITH LSLAP
There are numerous experiences you can only get in 1L by joining LSLAP:
- Have actual courtroom or tribunal experience
- Help clients with their real legal issues and see their cases through from beginning to end
- Learn how to use professional legal case-management software (Clio)
- Learn how to spot real-life legal issues and make arguments for your clients
- Put real criminal law experience on your legal CV
- Practice legal work with the safety net of the program’s supervising lawyers
- Be part of the second-largest provider of free legal services in BC
- Qualify for one of our coveted full-time paid summer positions!
The amount of work varies from clinician to clinician, and experiences vary greatly. Sometimes a student pulls an exciting criminal matter on their first intake, while another just sees “same-day close” files—clients whose problems are outside of our mandate. However, you have some control over which files you take at clinics, and there are always files looking to be transferred to and from other clinicians for all areas of law.
It’s important to understand that LSLAP’s clients are real people with real legal problems. The supervising lawyers approve your work, but the work itself is up to you! If you manage your time well, you will have the opportunity to experience something that is simply not available to 1Ls anywhere else.
As for exams, LSLAP has a “blackout period” leading up to and during 1L exams (both December and May), during which we take no new clients and suspend non-urgent work on files so that you can focus on your exams.
If you have any questions or just want to chat about LSLAP, don’t hesitate to email Emily, the Internal Relations Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in September!