At the heart of the Program is a seven-week placement with a First Nation government, Indigenous organization, lawyer specializing in Aboriginal law, or with a government or corporate department conducting consultation or seeking to develop respectful relations with Indigenous communities.
Two weeks of intensive workshops and seminars held at Osgoode before the students go on their placements are designed to help students prepare for their work. A final two weeks of presentations and seminars upon their return allow them to deepen their reflection on all aspects of what they have learned.
Placement activities typically include providing legal research and writing in support of a range of Indigenous communities’ needs and initiatives, including negotiation, litigation, consultation, and community outreach. Students may also help to serve the legal needs of Indigenous individuals in urban contexts. Placements provide opportunities for cross-cultural teaching and learning, in addition to experience answering legal questions.
Once the student selection process is complete, the co-directors consult with participants invidually to secure a placement that fulfils their particular educational aspirations. However, we are never able to guarantee any particular placement in any particular location. The availability of placements may also be constrained by the funding available on any given year. The co-directors make final decisions on placements. By accepting an offer to join the Program, students formally commit to participating in the Program and to take up any placement that the co-directors identify as fulfilling the Program’s pedagogical aims.
The placements are meant to provide an educational experience for the student, but in a work setting. Students are expected to be energetic, willing to assist in projects in concert with their supervisors, and hard-working. On those rare occasions where there is a problem during the placement itself this must be brought to the attention of the director immediately, and every effort will be made to resolve the difficulty.
The Program takes place over the winter term every year (January to April). The specific dates are finalized every summer for the following winter.
The schedule is approximately as follows:
|1st week of January||Research and writing of preparatory assignments|
|2nd and 3rd weeks of January||Classroom preparation at Osgoode|
|4th week of January to mid-March||7-week field placement|
|3rd week of March||Study week|
|4th week of March and 1st week of April||Seminars at Osgoode, including a 2-hour seminar presentation by every student.|
|Mid-April||Final Research Paper Due|
15 credits are awarded for completing the Program – the equivalent of a full term of courses at the Law School.
Program Requirements and Evaluation
- Obligatory attendance at seminars during the first two and last two weeks of the semester, every day of the week. The seminars are held at Osgoode, although some classes may involve field trips to a neighbouring reserve, to a Court hearing, or to an Aboriginal organization located in Toronto.
- Throughout their placement, students must maintain a daily journal to be submitted on a regular basis to the co-directors. This provides students with the opportunity to reflect on their experience and to place their practical learning within the theoretical frameworks developed during the seminars and through their written assignments. The journaling requirement also helps the co-directors ensure that each placement satisfies the educational objectives of the Program.
- Students’ participation in class and placement work is evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis and counts toward 9 credits out of the 15 credits awarded for the completion of the program.
- Students are also required to submit a major research paper on a subject to be approved by the course co-directors. This paper is awarded a letter grade and counts toward 3 credits.
- Finally, students are also required to prepare a two-hour seminar presentation to class and a fifteen-page background paper for this presentation on a topic related to their placement and approved by the program co-Directors. This presentation and background paper are awarded a letter grade and count toward 3 credits.
In addition to the marks attached to the assignments described at #4 and #5 above, a qualitative evaluation of every student’s work and participation in the Program will be written by the co-directors and entered into their academic transcript. This evaluation includes reference to the assessment of each student by their placement supervisor.
Eligibility and Pre-requisites
Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from Osgoode or from other Canadian law schools are eligible.
Every student must have completed at least one course in Aboriginal or Indigenous law before the beginning of the Program in January. Students interested in a placement with a strong environmental law focus should also have taken at least one environmental or planning course as well. Other recommended courses are listed on the application form.
Because of the challenging nature of the placements, the Program usually gives priority to students who will be in the last term of their 3rd year of law school, although applications from students who will be in their 2nd year are also considered.
Students pay tuition for a single term at the Osgoode Hall Law School rate. Tuition is paid to Osgoode instead of the student’s primary law school for that term. Students are not ‘double-billed’. See Osgoode tuition and fees for further information.
The Program makes every attempt to ensure that there are no significant additional costs for the participants beyond what would be expected if the student were to remain for their final term in a normal course setting at Osgoode or at their primary law school. Transportation to and from Toronto, and to and from the placement (if required) is provided. Accommodation is considered while in Toronto and on the placement.
Many students from outside of Toronto have been able to stay with friends or relatives. We will try to assist in arranging for billeted or paying accommodation for those not able to find a place. The Program requests that students do all they can to keep costs low, assisting if at all possible in arranging reasonable transportation and accommodations. In some years, depending on funding and placement locations, students may be asked to contribute to placement costs outside of Toronto.
Application Information and Deadline
The Program is like nothing else in the conventional law school curriculum. It is both very exciting and very challenging. We encourage you to contact Professor Amar Bhatia to determine if it is a good fit for you.
Application information is available for both Osgoode students (through MyOsgoode) and for external applicants. The deadline for external applicants is the first Wednesday of April, for the program starting the following January.