Among its many programs, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law administers the Donner Civic Leadership and Tuohy Fellowships and June Callwood Program in Aboriginal Law Fellowships. These Fellowships give students the opportunity to do public interest work full-time during the summers. Additionally, the SLS sponsors up to three first or second year law students to work in a public interest legal job each summer. 

On this page, the Donner, SLS, and Callwood Fellows describe their experiences in the summer of 2017.

Patrick Enright

Donner Fellow
Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD)

This summer I worked as a Donner Fellow at the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Centre for Law and Democracy is an NGO that specializes in free speech and expression and government transparency. The Centre has a particular expertise in access to information and press freedom laws, and works collaboratively with foreign governments and developing democracies to implement and improve their access to information legislation.

At the CLD, I assisted counsel by researching and drafting various advisory briefs that advocated for reform of the access to information laws in foreign countries as well as various NGOs. I also engaged in a number of longer-term research projects that included a 40-page report on the state of national security law in Canada and, specifically, how recent legislative changes in this area have made the government of Canada more or less accountable to the public. I also completed a thorough study of the Canadian government’s compliance with the federal Access to Information Act, and made recommendations for improvement in this area.

Earning a Donner Fellowship not only afforded me the opportunity to do substantive legal work for a great organization, but also allowed me to travel and see a part of the country I had never experienced before. I also had the opportunity to work with a team of three other interns from law schools around the country, and to work in a collegial atmosphere that provided a lot of exposure to working with a team and in small groups.

All-in-all, I can’t thank the CDO and Fellowship Committee enough for giving me the opportunity to have a personal adventure, and to gain incredible legal experience at the same time. Working and living in Nova Scotia is a memory I’ll cherish and truly never forget. 


Photo of Patrick Enright in his office at CLD

Patrick Enright in his office at CLD

Lara Hubermann

Donner Fellow
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) 

The Donner Fellowship allowed me to spend my summer working at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in their legal department. 

 My main project was to develop an interactive e-learning module for physicians who act as expert witnesses in legal proceedings. The module educates health professionals on the legal system and the role, challenges, and responsibilities of an expert witness before they testify in court. Through case law and policy research I created an online training tool that will hopefully help physicians better understand their duties as expert witnesses. In addition to this project I had the chance to gain exposure to other areas of law such as employment and consent and capacity. 

 My experience at SickKids allowed me to learn about issues in health law and bioethics as well as apply and develop my research and writing skills. I am grateful to the Donner Civic Leadership Fellowship Program for this incredible opportunity and wonderful summer. 


Photo of Lara Hubermann outside SickKids

Lara Hubermann outside SickKids

Kate Mazzuocco

Donner Fellow
Luke's Place Support and Resource Centre for Women and Children

Through the Donner Fellowship, I was given an opportunity to spend a summer with Luke’s Place, an non-profit, registered charitable organization in the Durham Region. Luke’s Place provides legal and emotional support to survivors of woman abuse as they proceed through the family court system.

My primary task was to research the topic of legal abuse as it occurs in the family court system. My final paper detailed the occurrence of legal abuse in family court and outlined a series of recommendations for systemic change and a series of recommendations for lawyers representing clients with an abuse history. During my time at Luke’s Place, I was also able to provide legal information to new clients individually and through Early Information Sessions, which are group sessions designed to inform clients about the family court process.

I learned a lot about the family court system through this Fellowship. I learned the procedural steps of a family court case and how to prepare key documents, but I also learned about the difficulties that litigants are met with as they attempt to engage with the process. I believe that understanding these difficulties, and understanding particularly the impact they have on certain sectors, will help me be a better lawyer in the future.

This was an incredible opportunity that both the organization I worked for and I were grateful for. It is so meaningful to be able to impact in the individual lives of clients, but also to be a part of a movement advocating for positive change within the family court system.

Photo of Kate Mazzuocco with Luke's Place team

Kate Mazzuocco with the team at Luke's Place

Benjamin Miller

Donner Fellow
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)

 The Donner Fellowship allowed me to spend my summer working at Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), a specialty legal aid clinic that publishes legal information and delivers legal education programming. As a Donner Fellow I led the development of a new section of their nonprofit law site, which answers common legal questions about starting and running a nonprofit in Ontario. I developed the site by systematically collecting, reviewing, and curating existing resources from government, non-profit, and private bar sources. 

I also used my knowledge of non-profit capacity building to assist with CLEO operations, including information management and outreach. This included developing a collection of how to guides for things like website user testing, outreach database building,and more. I drafted a report from their AGM and even helped out with by-law review, thereby putting into practice precisely what I was helping others learn.

Both the process and the outcome of my Fellowship have been incredible. Through the Donner Fellowship I was able to bring my two biggest interests together non-profit law and public legal education and information (PLEI). I had an opportunity to learn the craft of PLEI from the best and study nonprofit law in a way I simply couldn't do in class. Furthermore, within weeks of launching the website I have been able to use it to help friends and family with their non-profit law questions which shows me how much need there is for this material.    


Photo of Benjamin Miller
Benjamin Miller


Amanda Nash

Donner Fellow
Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)

Receiving the Donner Fellowship allowed me to spend my summer as a research fellow at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). Since entering law school I have been drawn to public interest work, and I was ecstatic to learn that I would be working with the CCLA, who has been involved in some of Canada’s most important human rights and civil liberties cases. The CCLA is a national nongovernmental organization that focuses on protecting civil liberties through litigation, law reform, advocacy and public education.

Over the summer I worked on a project that was part of the CCLA’s ongoing Privacy, Technology and Surveillance project. With the help of my supervisor and the project’s director, Brenda McPhail, I produced a report on the privacy implications of metadata, the protections it is currently afforded, and recommendations for more robust protections. I was also able to be involved in a range of CCLA’s work on privacy, national security, surveillance, amongst other areas, all of which have significant impacts on human rights and civil liberties. My summer with the CCLA allowed me to explore and learn about the breadth and depth of advocacy work, from writing legal memos on cases to reviewing bills that had recently been introduced in parliament. Through the variety of this work I was able to develop practical legal skills while providing me with valuable insight into constitutional advocacy and the spectrum of human rights and civil liberties topics currently at issue in Canada.

My summer at the CCLA and as a Donner Fellow was an immensely valuable experience and I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the staff and students at the CCLA. I gained substantial legal skills and knowledge, and allowed me to learn about and engage with ongoing and emerging issues facing Canadians across the country. I am grateful and would like to extend my sincerest thanks to both the Donner Fellowship and the CCLA for giving me this exciting opportunity to be involved in such important and timely work.


Photo of Amanda Nash at CCLA
Amanda Nash at the CCLA offices

Christoph Pike

Donner Fellow
Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PLIAN)

The Donner Fellowship allowed me to work with the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PLIAN). PLIAN is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to improving public understanding of the law in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As a Donner Fellow, I worked on a wide range of projects aimed at increasing access to justice. In response to recent changes in court procedure and applications, I wrote and revised guides to family law for self-represented litigants. I had the opportunity to help PLIAN establish a weekly drop-in clinic at The Gathering Place – a service centre for low-income adults. In this capacity, I wrote plain-language guides to a variety of legal topics for distribution at the clinic, and had in-person meetings with clients. Throughout the summer, I answered phone calls as part of PLIAN’s legal information line and lawyer referral service. I had the opportunity to respond to legal inquiries on diverse matters, including property disputes, small claims, and residential tenancy issues.

The Donner Fellowship was a deeply rewarding experience. I enjoyed having the opportunity to work directly with members of the community on a wide range of legal issues. Further, the supportive and tight-knit environment proved to be an excellent place to learn more about the law.


Photo of Christoph Pike in St. John's
Christoph Pike in Newfoundland

Valentina Romano

Donner Fellow
WE Charity

The Donner Civic Leadership Fund Fellowship allowed me to spend my summer with WE Charity, an international not-for-profit development and youth empowerment organization that operates a multitude of programs for social good. This includes WE Schools, which provides service-learning curricula to schools in North America and the United Kingdom; WE Day, a stadium-sized celebration involving internationally-acclaimed talent; and WE Villages, a sustainable development model collaborating with partner communities in Kenya, India, Ecuador, China, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. 

Throughout my time as a Fellow, I assisted with projects and tasks spanning different areas of law. Most notably, these included: drafting and reviewing donation, sponsorship, talent, and broadcast agreements; researching various time-sensitive matters in human rights and family law; and flagging risks and responsibilities in non-disclosure, venue license, and other service agreements between WE and third parties. I also gained unique exposure to life as in-house counsel for a large organization and discovered that this requires great expertise, creativity, and flexibility.


Photo of Valentina Romano at WE Charity offices
Valentina Romano at the WE Charity offices

Aidan Campbell

SLS Fellow
Caregivers' Action Centre

Thanks to the SLS Public Interest Advocacy Fellowship, I was able to spend my summer with the Caregivers’ Action Centre, supporting their work advocating for regular immigration status and improved workplace protections for migrant caregivers.

Much of my time was spent researching the effects of recent changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program and the future of a path to permanent residency for migrant caregivers. I also had the opportunity to dig into the dismal history of Canada’s foreign domestic workers program, placing the current policy changes in their proper context.

Throughout, I assisted the Centre in various capacities. I helped members make sense of their legal position in the face of illegal recruitment fees and unfair working conditions. Worked through potential court challenges to medical inadmissibility findings with other advocacy groups. And, helped compile and analyse surveys of the Centre’s client base and membership so that they could better understand the problems facing caregivers day to day. 

Photo of Aidan Campbell at CAC
Aidan Campbell at Caregivers' Action Centre

Karishma Prasanna

SLS Fellowship 
Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)

This summer, the SLS Fellowship gave me the opportunity to spend the summer working for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). LEAF is a national feminist non-profit organization aimed at defending, ensuring and promoting substantive equality rights for women all over the country. In particular, LEAF’s mandate is focused on the protection and realization of the equality provisions in the Charter. LEAF primarily advances its mandate by applying to be an intervenor in certain cases at the appellate or Supreme Court level.

 As an SLS Fellow at LEAF, I supported the organization’s work by preforming research on a variety of different topics and areas of law, including abortion clinic bubble zone legislation, child custody mobility law, pay equity programs and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. I also worked on producing an extensive report detailing the history and current state of sexual assault law in Canada. As a result of my fellowship, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of section 15 jurisprudence, the gendered implications of the current legal system and how the law might be able to change to better promote the substantive equality rights of women in Canada.

I am extremely grateful to the SLS Fellowship program and the staff at LEAF for having made this experience possible. I had an amazing summer and I gained invaluable legal research and writing skills and important substantive legal knowledge about equality law in Canada.


Photo of Karishma Prasanna at LEAF
Karishma Prasanna at LEAF

Zachary Biech

Callwood Fellowship  
Aboriginal Legal Services

For me, the Callwood Fellowship experience was transformative and impactful on both a professional and personal level. My Fellowship took place at Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS), under the supervision of Jonathan Rudin, ALS Program Director. My role as a Callwood Fellow was to provide research and editing assistance in the creation of a legal textbook for practitioners, through Emond Publishing, regarding Indigenous people and the Canadian criminal justice system. The research was wide-ranging, and the textbook covers a variety of topics, with particular focus on the nuances of Gladue considerations in sentencing and beyond. In addition to case law, I had the opportunity to research a plethora of other sources, including many academic articles and all the major federal and provincial inquiries on Indigenous people and the justice system. Also, I had the opportunity to attend sentencing circles at the Toronto Gladue (Aboriginal Persons) Court, and I was deeply moved by the emotional and human value and potential for the textbook’s resources in practice. This diversity of experience and work was enriching for me as a student and as someone engaged in Indigenous issues. Also, the atmosphere of community at ALS made the Fellowship experience fun and full of new friendships at every stage. The work we completed by the end of the Fellowship exceeded expectations, and I am very proud to report that the work will help break destructive cycles and create paths for healing for generations to come. Overall, it was an honour and a pleasure to work alongside my supervisor and the other staff at ALS, for all of whom I have great respect and admiration, in this important and impactful project.

Photo of Callwood Fellows Natalie Day, Zachary Biech and Joshua Favel
Callwood Fellows (from left) Natalie Day, Zachary Biech and Joshua Favel 

Joshua Favel

Callwood Fellowship  
Royal Ontario Museum

Working as a Callwood Fellow with the Royal Ontario Museum allowed me to conduct incredibly interesting research in the historical and legal area of the treaty relationship in Canada. In addition to developing my abilities as a researcher and writer, I was able to learn new skills in terms of producing public legal education documents and writing for public consumption. I really enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing project of Indigenizing the museum, and to help shine a light on Indigenous perspectives on the historical treaty formation. I greatly valued the opportunity to learn more about the Indigenous perspectives and oral traditions surrounding the nature of the treaty relationship, and the promises that were made in the development of this relationship.  I am very excited to see my research incorporated into helping provide a clearer picture of the history of the treaties and their contemporary impacts.