LAO funds six student legal aid services societies’ family law services programs

Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The following student legal aid services societies will either be offering new family law services or expanding their existing program:

University of Toronto's Downtown Legal Services and Community and Osgoode Hall Law School's Legal Aid Services Program

University of Toronto’s Downtown Legal Services and the Osgoode Hall Law School’s Community and Legal Aid Services Program will use their portion of the funding to increase capacity at student clinics to include representation and integration with family law service centres and community hubs. The funding will also go towards partnerships with social work students and public legal education services.

Downtown Legal Services was the first student legal aid service society to offer family law services and has been doing so for ten years.

“Our experience with this program has demonstrated clearly that law students can play an important role in providing some relief to the current access to justice crisis in family law,” says Jutta Brunnée, University of Toronto’s Interim Law Dean. “We are grateful to Legal Aid Ontario for this new funding, which will allow us to enhance our program, to serve more family law clients and to introduce more law students to the exciting and vibrant practice of family law.”

Meanwhile, Community and Legal Aid Services Program will be introducing new services at its clinic.

“Osgoode Hall Law School is delighted that our Community and Legal Aid Services Program will now be in a position to offer family law services for low-income families,” says Dean Lorne Sossin. “The expansion of family law services has been identified as a key area that needs to be addressed to enhance access to justice. Osgoode is a leader in family law and experiential education, and welcomes this exciting opportunity for our students to learn about the realities of law in CLASP’s supportive teaching environment.”

Queen's Legal Aid

Queen’s Legal Aid will establish a new clinical family law program, where review counsel and law students will work with LAO’s duty counsel, clinics and other agencies in Kingston to support low-income Ontarians.

"At Queen’s, we share Legal Aid Ontario’s commitment to enhancing family law services for low-income residents,” says Bill Flanagan, Law Dean at Queen’s University. “Queen’s has long been a national leader in teaching and scholarship in family law. We are delighted that, with LAO’s generous funding, we will be able to add a family law clinic to our existing four legal aid clinics.”

Community Legal Clinic

University of Ottawa’s Community Legal Clinic will create a new slate of services aimed at meeting the needs of clients experiencing domestic violence, clients with mental illness and clients facing other barriers to accessing justice. The program will also prepare and deliver community legal education sessions. These services will be offered in both English and French.

Law Dean, Nathalie Des Rosiers, says, “The clinic receives many requests for services in family law. We are very pleased that we can now assist clients in need of these services.”

Western University's Community Legal Services

Western University’s Community Legal Services will use funding to provide representation for family law clients in co-operation with LAO’s family law duty counsel. Funds will also be used to support the development and training of students in family law.

“With 60 to 70 per cent of parties in London’s Family Court being self-represented, we have hoped for many years to add family law to our clinic,” says Doug Ferguson, Director of Community Legal Services Clinic. “This grant will allow us to help low income persons, speed up the court process, and train students how to be good lawyers. We are grateful to Legal Aid Ontario for this funding.”

University of Windsor's Community Legal Aid

University of Windsor’s Community Legal Aid will use funding to improve the provision of legal and advocacy services to low-income Ontarians who are experiencing legal and social problems in family law. These services will be provided by law and social work students.

Windsor Law Dean Camille Cameron says, “We are delighted to combine the opportunity to expand our community services with the provision of an enriched learning experience for law and social work students.”


Josephine Li
Communications advisor
Phone: 416-979-2352 ext. 6015