Instructor(s): Cheryl Milne, Janet Minor

4 credits
Max Enrol: 10 JD (conditional enrol)

  • Enrollment in ALL the clinics for credit is limited to upper year students.
  • Interested students must apply to the appropriate clinic prior to the deadline for course selection.
  • If necessary, students will be interviewed for the available positions.
  • Exchange Students are not eligible to participate in clinics.

 Schedule: (M: 2:10 - 5:00) pm plus a full-day training session on September 30, 2016.
(Attendance at this session is mandatory to be eligible to participate in the clinic.)

Note: The Blackboard program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Blackboard prior to the start of school to obtain course information.

Note: Enrollment in this clinic is conditional. The Records Office will add the clinic to the student's course selection once participation is confirmed by the clinic instructor. In the meantime, students must select sufficient credits for the term/year. Students approved for the clinic will have the opportunity to adjust their credits before the add/drop deadline.

Pre-requisite: While there is not a pre-requisite for this course other than first year Introduction to Constitutional Law or its equivalent, prior completion of an upper-year course in Constitutional Law or Human Rights Law is very strongly preferred. Candidates may be considered if they can demonstrate equivalent experience and familiarity with human rights issues.

To register for this course, you must email a 1-2 page statement of interest to Cheryl Milne, cheryl.milne@utoronto.ca by July 11, 2016 at 10:00 am.

Please indicate the following:
(a) previous upper-year courses in constitutional law or human rights law or experience that you consider to be equivalent;
(b) indicators of academic, analytical and research and writing ability, which may include grades in related classes;
(c) any experience in human rights or constitutional issues;
(d) any experience with lawyering or advocacy;
(e) why you wish to enroll in the Clinic.

Students participating in clinical programs are encouraged to take opportunities to integrate their clinical work into an upper year paper course. Students must obtain approval from the Clinical Director, the paper course instructor, and Assistant Dean, JD Program. This course offers students the opportunity to engage in Charter rights advocacy, including but not limited to litigation, under the supervision of experienced lawyers.

The Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights is devoted to advocacy, research and education in the area of constitutional rights in Canada. Its cornerstone is a legal clinic bringing together students, faculty and members of the bar to work on significant constitutional cases. Appellate level cases that invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in innovative ways to promote social justice will be selected. It is expected that students will have the opportunity to work alongside practitioners and faculty in developing written and oral arguments, for academic credit. Daily casework could include case theory formulation, constitutional legal research, appellate brief and factum writing and attendance at oral argument. Projects may also include policy advocacy and research along with public legal education.

Substantive and procedural issues arising in advocating for constitutional rights will be explored through seminars and experiential learning. You will be exposed to skills-building seminars and case work and explore some of the legal, procedural, strategic, ethical and theoretical dimensions of issues that arise in cases and other forms of legal advocacy. The program challenges students to examine issues in significant constitutional cases and advocacy initiatives in a critical way, while at the same time allowing them to develop the professional and ethical literacy which is essential to the practice of law. Through their clinical work, written reflections, and weekly seminars, students will test relationships between constitutional principles and the practical realities of the advocacy process, and develop a conceptual and empirical understanding of constitutional lawyering.

The clinic will meet once a week for 3 hours. Part of each session will be organized as a seminar, which will focus on substantive issues in constitutional advocacy (eg. constitutional jurisdiction of various courts and tribunals; substantive basis for claims; roles of the various parties in Charter litigation; effective advocacy strategies) or on skills building (eg. research, drafting of pleadings, effective brief writing, analysis of legislation). Part of each session will be organized as discussions of the issues raised by the students’ casework and the issues involved in constitutional advocacy. Casework may include formulating case theories and advocacy strategies, legal research, drafting of briefs, facta or reports, or attending hearings.

Examples of past projects include:

  • Research and meetings with an advocacy organization on an election rights test case;
  • Litigation support (research and legal drafting) for the Centre's Supreme Court interventions;
  • Research memorandum exploring advocacy alternatives for redress of rights infringements arising in situations such as the conditions in federal prison and the detention of refugee claimants.

 Commitment:
Attendance at clinic meetings is mandatory. Students are routinely expected to provide oral briefings and analyses and to participate in discussions. While we will strive to make the overall workload of the clinic comparable to a course of similar weight, the clinic will at times involve obligations to clients and external deadlines which must be met. In this sense, the clinic requires a commitment beyond what is normally expected in an academic seminar. The credit weighting of this course is designed to reflect this additional commitment.

Practicum:
Subject to approval of the instructor, in second term a one credit practicum will be available for students who have previously completed the Asper Centre clinic. Where students so request and workload warrants, the instructor may approve of a practicum for two credits.

Evaluation
The student’s work on the clinic advocacy project(s) will consist of a work plan, draft pleadings and in-depth memoranda on the legal issues in the case or in relation to the advocacy project assigned and a student-led class discussion on the project (70%); in addition, the student will be required to develop a learning plan, to log time spent on files, to enter weekly reflections in an ongoing journal on the work conducted on behalf of the Centre and seminar discussions, and to complete a final reflection and summary of the learning experience (30%). Total written work will be the equivalent of a 6,000-word research memorandum. Students will be evaluated on their clinical work and their participation in seminars.

At a Glance

First Term
Credits
4
Hours
0

Enrolment

Maximum
10

10 JD