The Public Interest Advocacy Firm Funded Summer Internship enables second year students with summer jobs at sponsoring law firms the opportunity to gain exposure to legal practice with a large firm and public interest work.  Students spend part of the summer (usually the first half) working at the sponsoring firm, and another portion (4-8 weeks) working with a public interest organization.  By gaining a combined exposure to private and public interest practice during the summer, students acquire an understanding of the interface between these practice settings and develop an appreciation of the scope for contributions to the public interest in a private law setting.

How does it work?

As noted above, students spend part of the summer working at a law firm (typically the first part) and part of the summer as an intern at a host organization (from 4-8 weeks depending on the firm).  While students are working at the sponsoring law firm, they are integrated fully into the law firm's summer program and are included in social and educational events held by the law firm during the summer.  Participating students are paid by the law firm with which they are employed for the duration of the firm’s summer program (typically 12-14 weeks in total).  Students must first have secured employment with a law firm for the summer and second, approached the law firm about a public interest internship.

During the internship portion of the summer, each student works with a public interest organization on a discrete legal project which the organization lacks the funds to complete.   Organizations must also have a lawyer on staff who has the capacity to provide adequate supervision for the student intern.  In the past, participating public interest organizations have represented a wide range of local community interests and concerns, including the protection of the environment, the eradication of discrimination against various minority groups, the improvement of the economic and social position of impoverished and disabled citizens, and the promotion of civil rights and liberties. 

For details about the application and approval process, please go to the Firm-Funded Summer Internship Programs:  How to Apply page.

What public interest organizations will host student interns? 

The following is a list of organizations which have hosted a student intern in the past.  This list is not exhaustive.  Students are encouraged to identify organizations whose mandate fits that contemplated above and that do work that is of interest to the student.  Please note that that the Program is intended to assist local non-governmental organizations:

  • Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
  • Advocacy Resource Centre for the Disabled (ARCH)
  • African Canadian Legal Clinic
  • Amnesty International
  • Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted
  • BOOST:  Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention
  • Canada Without Poverty
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Canadian Environmental Law Association
  • Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation
  • Charter Committee on Poverty Issues 
  • Downtown Legal Services
  • Écojustice (Sierra Legal Defence Fund)
  • Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies
  • Justice for Children and Youth
  • Metro Action Committee on Public Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC)
  • Ontario Human Rights Commission
  • Oxfam Canada
  • Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape
  • Urban Alliance on Race Relations
  • Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)

Students seeking information about these organizations or other possibilities should review the Public Interest and Legal Clinics Guide available in Students may also contact the Director of the Career Development Office at 416-946-3033 ( or Pro Bono Students Canada to discuss specific organizations. 

What kind of experience will I gain as an intern?

As an intern, students are expected to be exposed to a wide array of legal issues and problems faced by the host organization.  The work of an intern may include: preparation of legal memoranda on issues of importance to the organization; preparation of facta for use in specific legal proceedings; assisting counsel in trials, hearings, and appeals; the development of legislative reform proposals and public policy statements; the provision of legal information to clients of the participating organization; and the development of community outreach and education programs. Students will be closely supervised by the host organization, and will have the opportunity to meet with and interact with legal and non-legal staff. Except in unusual circumstances, participating students will work out of the organization's office during the internship portion.