Rise Women’s Legal Centre provides an experiential learning opportunity for upper year students from the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in a non-profit social justice environment, and with a focus on the circumstances of self-identified women and their experiences within the justice system. The full-time externship consists of two complementary courses: Law 379D Women’s Legal Clinic and Law 380C Externship Reflections, which are worth a total of 15 academic credits. Both courses take place on-site at Rise. Rise offers the externship program three times a year during each academic term (fall, winter, summer) and accepts a maximum of six students per term.
For the Women’s Legal Clinic course, Rise’s students obtain temporary articles with the Law Society of British Columbia so that they may provide legal advice and unbundled family law services including, in some cases, representing clients in court. Through their work on client files, students gain practical knowledge and skills in advocacy, research and writing.
The co-requisite Externship Reflections course enhances and supports students’ understanding of community legal practice by allowing them to situate their clinical work within a broader social justice context. The Reflections course encourages students to read, discuss and reflect on themes specific to women and the law, legal advocacy, and other themes arising from their clinical experience.
Students participate in an intensive three-week orientation through which they are introduced to client-management processes in the clinic, and to the community of non-legal supports and services for women. They are taught court rules and procedure, advocacy skills, client interviewing, and writing affidavits.
The clinical component of the Rise externship is worth 11 academic credits and is graded on a pass/fail basis. Student clinicians carry their own caseload and work on all aspects of their legal files. The level of service provided to clients can range from providing summary advice, to supplying unbundled legal services such as document drafting or legal coaching. Students will have the opportunity to work on cars that are being argued in both the Provincial and Supreme Courts of British Columbia. In some cases, student clinicians will represent clients at the Provincial Court and may occasionally represent clients at judicial case conferences in the Supreme Court.
The seminar component of the Rise externship is worth 4 academic credits and fulfills the seminar requirement for law students. Students attend a weekly seminar class during which they are encouraged to critically reflect on the role of lawyers and the justice system, and the barriers that many women face while trying to access justice in BC. Student participation often reflects their experiences with the clients they serve at the clinic, resulting in thoughtful discussions on varied topics, such as the legal system being a foreign culture to clients, the pursuit of effective, empowering advocacy on behalf of women with diverse experiences, and the tools available to responsibly work in community.
Critical reflection is essential to sustaining and developing a community legal practice. Rise students reflect on their experiences with clients, with colleagues, the legal system and beyond through weekly reflective journaling and “rounds” where students come together with staff lawyers to share learning goals, challenges and insights. Participating in critical reflection and rounds encourages students to help one another and themselves in learning how to problem solve, situate their legal practice within a broader social context, and support their self-care.
Effective advocacy requires clarity and accessibility in written communications, with attention paid to the audience. To prepare for legal practice, students prepare affidavits, court pleadings, correspondence, legal memos, and other types of legal writing. Rise students also complete a significant analytical research paper addressing a systemic or other legal issue that impacts women’s experiences in the legal system. This research paper fulfills the major paper requirement for law students.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
All students applying to the clinical externship program at Rise must be currently enrolled in their second or third year of law at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, and have completed Evidence by the beginning of the externship. (Family Law is also strongly recommended.)
We are committed to enhancing the gender diversity and inclusivity of our space, and we welcome applications from students of all gender identities. We are also committed to providing opportunities for student members of communities that have historically been under-represented or unwelcome in the legal profession, including Indigenous students, students of colour, and students with disabilities.
Students may apply for the externship program through the Peter A. Allard School of Law:
For more information about the externship program please contact Vandana Sood, Supervising Lawyer, at [email protected]