Community & Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP)

The Community and Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) provides a combination of individual advocacy, community development, and law reform to low-income individuals and families.  CLASP prioritizes service to four disadvantaged communities that have been historically denied meaningful access to the legal system: persons living with mental health barriers; youth; female survivors of domestic violence; and members of the Jane-Finch community.  CLASP’s individual representation work is directed to low-income persons, including York University students, not eligible for a legal aid certificate.

Please note students accepted into CLASP are not permitted to take any other clinical/intensive programs concurrently.

What You Will Do

CLASP’s service provision model relies on Program students as “Division Leaders” who work in the clinic under the supervision of five lawyers and one outreach coordinator.  In addition to file work, as a Division Leader you will participate in law reform, community development, and public legal education initiatives.  Along with the other Division Leaders, you will also facilitate the involvement of approximately 100 – 150 volunteer law students who work with real clients in a variety of roles – from the initial intake interviews, to researching and preparing a file for trial, to representing clients in court or at a tribunal.  CLASP enables students to get a true taste of what it’s like to practise law.

Division Leaders begin in May as paid caseworkers for the summer and work for credit during the academic year.  Division Leaders are assigned to one of three divisions: administrative law, criminal law, or immigration law. Throughout the year you will attend required supervision meetings (integrating feedback and case reflection), provide training guidance to other volunteer students (both as intake volunteers and caseworkers), advance a case load (including files and summary advice) in accordance with the standards of the supervision policy and related standards, oversee intake volunteers at our main location, coordinate and staff our satellite locations, and pursue law reform, public legal education and community development projects.

What You Will Learn

  • written and oral advocacy skills
  • to interact with a diverse clientele in a diverse community
  • client interviewing skills
  • to work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary capacity
  • to work with clients and communities to drive community development
  • to identify key legal issues within a complex client narrative
  • ethical norms governing the practice of law

Program Director

Adjunct Professor Suzanne Johnson