Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Faculty of Law’s Downtown Legal Services received a $100,000 annual boost to its funding from Legal Aid Ontario, as part of the LAO’s overall increase to the seven legal aid clinics across the province.

DLS will focus this funding to add housing and employment law to its services, which currently include five areas of law: criminal, family, refugee and immigration, tenant housing and academic affairs.

Lisa Cirillo, clinic executive director, with Vicki Moretti, Vice President, GTA Region, Legal Aid Ontario and Petra Molnar Diop, 3L student

Celebrating at the DLS-LAO funding announcement: (left) Lisa Cirillo with Vicki Moretti, VP GTA Region, Legal Aid Ontario and 3L Petra Molnar Diop.

“DLS is grateful to Legal Aid Ontario for this new funding stream,” says Lisa Cirillo, DLS executive director.  “We look forward to expanding our housing practice to be able to assist low income tenants across a variety of forums. With the well-documented rise in precarious work arrangements, we are also excited about launching our new employment law division to assist vulnerable workers in understanding and enforcing their rights. These desperately needed legal services provide both greater access to justice for Ontarians and rich clinical learning experiences for our students who are interested in public interest advocacy.”

Ontario’s legal aid clinics allow law students to provide services under the supervision of a qualified lawyer.

“Working at the clinic this past summer, it was apparent that there is a real need for a broader range of housing services, going beyond advice and representation at the Landlord and Tenant Board," says Catherine Bulman, a JD/MPP (master of pulic policy) student and former DLS volunteer in the housing division. Currently she's a volunteer division leader, helpin to train other new student volunteers.

"I am really excited about the expanded housing services at the clinic, as it will provide University of Toronto students with more valuable learning opportunities. More importantly, these expanded services will allow our clinic to respond to the needs of the community.”

“Thanks to the Ontario government’s commitment to increase access to legal aid, Legal Aid Ontario can invest in new services for low-income people,” says John McCamus, LAO chair. “The student legal aid clinics serve their communities and help law students experience the satisfaction of hands-on social justice work.”