Externship Seminar

Note: 3 credits (ungraded) per term

Conditional enrolment - See details on how to register below.

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

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 any of the following courses: International Human Rights Law, Homelessness or either the DLS Clinic or the IHRP Clinic.

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 one of Canada’s oldest charities working to advance the right to adequate housing. Founded in 1987, 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. Starting in 2022, we will also be providing legal services to tenants on a variety of matters, including evictions, above guideline rent increases and maintenance matters.

Providing education and training about housing rights
CERA provides public education and training 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 rights-based 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 clinical services, law reform, systemic advocacy research, and/or activities related to advancing the right to housing. Students will gain experience and develop skills in housing law, client interviewing, client management and legal research and/or 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 may 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;
  • consider ethical and professionalism questions that arise during legal work
  • develop client management skills;
  • appreciate the access to justice challenges faced by low-income Ontarians;
  • attend community, advocacy or stakeholder meetings where appropriate.

Placement activities:
Students will work with the Manager of Strategic Litigation, the Manager of Policy, Communications and Engagement, or the Manager of Services and Education, or a combination thereof to support the work of CERA 10-12 hours per week. Students will support the client services, law reform, advocacy and strategic litigation work that CERA engages in with the specific schedule to be arranged between the manager and participating students. Law reform work may include:

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

Policy advocacy projects may include:

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

Clinical legal work may include:

  • client intake interviews,
  • legal research related to client questions,
  • legal research to establish best practices for direct services work
  • providing legal information to client,
  • assisting with the preparation of matters for hearing,
  • developing legal education products.

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;
  3. Your interest in working with one or more of CERA’s strategic litigation, policy or client services teams; and
  4. A list of courses taken related to housing rights, human rights or other courses that may be relevant to CERA’s mandate.

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.

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
2022 - 2023

At a Glance

Both Terms



9 JD