In November of 2006, Osgoode Hall Law School became the first Canadian law school to introduce a public interest graduation requirement. The 40-hour public interest graduation requirement builds upon Osgoode’s tradition of commitment to public service and innovative learning methods. In both credit and non-credit placements, students have the opportunity to engage with clients, the public sector, community organizations, the judiciary, legal organizations and private bar lawyers to fulfill their 40-hour public interest requirement.
Students have the opportunity to enrich their law school experience by participating in law-related activity in the public interest. The benefits to participation include contributing to access to justice, identifying areas of interest, gaining practical skills, meeting mentors, role models and potential employers, engaging with the community and appreciating the practice of law in a profession which has the privilege and responsibility of self-regulation.
Criteria: Public Interest and Law-Related
Public Interest includes work that facilitates access to justice for individuals or groups with limited or no access (this may include access to legal information, access to advice and representation), participation in activities that seek substantive law reform, providing services that build the capacity of organizations or communities to engage with the law and legal processes.
Law-related work includes the application and interpretation of law, formulating legal policy, participating in the drafting of legislation and regulations, law reform, public outreach to communities on legal issues, public legal education, participation in community organizing and community development activities.
Possible placements are available in government, with tribunals, with community legal clinics, with practitioners supplying legally aided services in criminal, family, immigration or child protection work, with non-government organizations (NGOs), and more.
After completing 40 hours of uncompensated law-related public interest work students either participate in a three- hour group discussion or write a five-page reflective paper. Students reflect on how their OPIR experience relates to the topics covered in the first-year ethical lawyering course. Evaluations are on a pass/fail basis. The OPIR Essay Guideline will assist students in writing their reflective paper. This guide can be found on MyJD under the “forms and applications” tab.