Externship Seminar

Note: 3 credits (ungraded) per term

Max enroll: 4 JD

Conditional enrolment - See details on how to register below.

This section of the externship is for students studying remotely, via audio-visual conference. To enrol in this course all students must meet or exceed the tech requirements for enrolment in University of Toronto courses, which can be found here []

Pre-requisite or Co-requisite: While there are no formal pre-requisites or co-requisites for this course, preference will be given to candidates who have previous knowledge or experience in housing and/or human rights, or students who have completed the following courses: International Human Rights Law, Homelessness or the IHRP Clinic is preferred.

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.

Note: Students enrolled in year-long externships must participate in the fall term Externship Seminar.

This part-time, two-semester clinical education program offers students the opportunity to work for Canada’s leading organization working to advance the right to housing.

About CERA:
CERA is Canada’s leading organization working to advance the right to adequate housing. Founded in 1987 by a small group of Ontarians who were deeply concerned about discrimination in housing, CERA has worked tirelessly for over thirty years at the intersection of human rights and housing and is one of Canada’s leading NGOs working in the area of social and economic rights. CERA works to advance the right to adequate housing by:

Serving clients to help them stay housed
CERA provides free services to tenants facing eviction and human rights violations in their housing, and we are experts in these fields. Each year we provide services to over a thousand tenants and we are highly effective in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable Ontario renters remain in their homes.

Providing education and training about housing rights
CERA provides intensive training sessions on housing rights and human rights in housing to diverse groups across Ontario, reaching approximately 1,000 people annually. We work with community partners to train individuals and communities about their housing rights and how to assert them, and we engage with landlords to educate them about their obligations as housing providers.

Advancing progressive housing policy
CERA advances progressive housing policy through research, policy development, advocacy and litigation. Notable achievements include setting a legal precedent preventing landlords from discriminating against renters who receive social assistance, launching a constitutional challenge against the federal government for failing to take action against homelessness, and coordinating the Right to Housing Toronto Campaign (R2HTO).

CERA is recognized internationally as a world leader in promoting and protecting human rights in housing and in applying both domestic and international human rights law to address issues of homelessness and poverty.

CERA is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization with special consultative status with the United Nations, having been recognized for its expertise in human rights and housing.

Learning objectives:
The goal of the externship is to provide students with an opportunity to be involved in law reform, systemic advocacy research, and activities related to advancing the right to housing. Students will gain experience and skills in conducting focused legal and policy research, including legislative and jurisprudential analysis, jurisdictional and environmental scans, legal analysis and reasoning, and supporting test case litigation where applicable (developing written and oral legal and systemic advocacy planning and communication skills, problem solving/strategic case development, evidence/documentation development, and organization and management of legal work).

In addition, students participating in this externship will have the opportunity to:

  • develop a broad understanding of international and domestic human rights law;

  • develop an understanding of housing policy;

  • understand the unique role lawyers play within a multi-disciplinary team;

  • gain a better understanding of the intersection of law, policy and advocacy (both individual and public), government and stakeholder relations and network and coalition building.

  • attend community, advocacy or stakeholder meetings where appropriate.

Placement activities:
Students support the work of CERA 10-12 hours per week to support the law reform, advocacy and strategic litigation work that CERA engages in with the specific schedule to be arranged between the on-site supervisor and participating students. Work on legal files will include:

  • conducting legal and policy research,
  • drafting briefing notes, legal memos, research papers and pleadings, and
  • providing other assistance with the development and execution of CERA’s litigation strategy.

Advocacy projects may include:

  • policy research,
  • assistance with position papers,
  • public legal education,
  • attending external stakeholder meetings and
  • assisting with communications.

How to register for this course:  
To register for this course, please send an email to Sara Faherty at by the deadline for submitting course selection choices with a current CV, and a statement of interest including the following information:

  1. Why you wish to enroll in the CERA externship;
  2. Your interest or experience in the areas of social justice, housing rights or human rights with a focus on social and economic rights; and
  3. A list of courses taken related to social justice, housing rights, human rights or other courses that may be relevant to CERA’s mandate.
Satisfactory completion of the externship, including the submission of the required assignments, evaluations and logs, and a short research paper on one of the law reform and systemic advocacy issues earns six ungraded credits (three per term). The faculty supervisor assesses, in consultation with the field supervisor, whether the requirements for earning credit have been met.
Academic year
2020 - 2021

At a Glance

Both Terms



4 JD