Osgoode welcomes enquiries from members of the bar who are interested in facilitating a student placement and becoming Public Interest Partners. The Osgoode Public Interest Requirement (OPIR) involves 40 hours of uncompensated, law-related public interest work.
Taking on an Osgoode student completing their OPIR is an opportunity to benefit from the work of talented students, participate in the practical legal education of the next generation of lawyers, serve as a mentor and introduce students to the experience of practice in your specific area of law.
The work in which students are engaged must be law-related, uncompensated (for both the student and the organization), in the public interest and supervised by a qualified lawyer. Many kinds of work qualify, but some examples include: legal aid matters, test case litigation, pro bono services, access to justice, public legal education and policy work.
Students have been placed with governments, tribunals, community legal clinics and non-government organizations, as well as with practitioners supplying pro bono or legal aid services in criminal, family, immigration or child protection work.
Supervising Lawyers’ Responsibilities
Your primary role is to supervise the students’ work. The students are in the midst of their legal education and not yet qualified to give legal advice; it’s your responsibility to ensure that any work they produce for the public is legally accurate.
While you have no specific obligations beyond supervision, many OPIR Partners enjoy acting as mentors to students as they explore their interests, engage with the community and gain practical skills.
If you are working with a student with a disability who requires an accommodation, the OPIR Director is available to support you in developing a customized plan.
How to Participate
To participate as an OPIR partner, please complete the Program Partner Registration form and email it directly to the OPIR Office at OPIRadmin@osgoode.yorku.ca. For further information, please call Maria Frasca at 416-736-5138.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should a placement be?
The nature of your project determines the length of the placement. Osgoode students are required to complete 40 public interest hours before graduating – but placements can be for shorter or longer periods. You can also engage more than one student.
Who will be placed with me?
Osgoode will work with you to screen potential candidates to ensure the best fit. You’re free to specify a required level of study, skills and knowledge in your posting. If no appropriate students apply for your position, you’re under no obligation to take someone on.
Are there any restrictions on when I post my project, or when students may work with me?
Students may complete their OPIR hours at any point during their JD, and you can post your project at any time. Depending on the nature of your project, you may find it best to negotiate a schedule with your student(s) or to include the schedule in your posting. It’s worth noting that the end of each term (November–December and March–April) tends to be an especially busy time for students.
Are there any costs involved in becoming a partner?
No. Students are required to work on an uncompensated basis for OPIR. Typically working on-site with an organization helps to support students’ learning, but where space is an issue and where students can complete their work effectively off-site, remote work is acceptable.
What are my or my organization’s obligations to my students?
You are required to supervise and sign off on the students’ work. The level of supervision or training required will depend on the students’ skill level and the nature of your project. You will also have to sign off on your students’ hours before they can submit them for consideration. Although many OPIR partners choose to act as lawyer-mentors to students, this role is informal and not obligatory.
What do I do if my project is not finished before my student’s 40 hours are complete?
If any work remains unfinished or requires revision, students may agree to work beyond their required 40 hours. Many students opt to stay on until the completion of the project. You may also take on other Osgoode students, either at the same time or in succession. It’s advisable to communicate project goals and timelines upfront, and to revisit timelines and expectations throughout the project to ensure that you and the student have the same understanding.
What should I do if I am unsatisfied with my student and/or their work?
We rarely hear negative feedback about the quality of our students’ work. However, in the event that you have a problem, question or complaint, please contact Maria Frasca at 416-736-5138 or OPIRadmin@osgoode.yorku.ca immediately.