Poverty Law Intensive at Parkdale Community Legal Services

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Large grop of students and lawyers in front of Parkdale clinic office

Former Ontario Chief Justice and Osgoode alumnus, Roy McMurtry ’58, called the Parkdale Community Legal Services Clinic (PCLS) one of Osgoode’s proudest achievements. When it was created in 1971, it was Canada’s first student-staffed community legal services clinic. Today, PCLS continues to provide Osgoode students with the opportunity to provide legal assistance to those most disadvantaged while receiving academic credit.

The program aims to provide students with an understanding of the social phenomenon of poverty, including its causes and impacts, and a critical analysis of the legal system’s and the legal profession’s responses to poverty. After an intensive week of training and an introduction to the Parkdale community in August, students spend a full term at PCLS in the west end of downtown Toronto.

Students are assigned to one of the clinic’s four working groups: immigration; landlord and tenant; social assistance, violence, and health; or workers’ rights. Students are responsible for interviewing clients and carrying a caseload of about 15 active files under the supervision of staff lawyers and community legal workers. Students will occasionally appear before boards, tribunals and courts. In addition to casework, students participate in community organization, education outreach, and law reform activities. During the term students attend a weekly seminar and write a 30-page paper that contributes in some manner to the work and goals of PCLS.

Please visit the PCLS website for more information.