Experiential Learning at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law

Law Centre

2004 Law Yearbook: Law Centre

Founding Dean Murray Fraser and Professor Neil Gold began the program in 1977 when clinical programs were still an emerging idea. In the beginning, it was difficult to convince the Law Faculty of the value of experiential learning because it was expensive and time intensive, but ultimately a program was established in 1977. The following year, Glen Gallins was hired to add structure to the program. Gallins continues to run the program today, after a brief hiatus in the 1980s.

In the beginning, students were simply handed a pile of 20 or 30 files to work on. In 1980, a week-long orientation was introduced to provide students with an overview focusing on trial preparation. Over the years the orientation has expanded to five weeks to allow students a thorough introduction to the Centre, to conduct moot courts and to learn about essential lawyering skills including interviewing, negotiation, and drafting.

Law Centre Interior

In 2013, the Centre moved to a new space shared with the Justice Access Centre in downtown Victoria. The location inside the courthouse allows for closer access to courtrooms and the courthouse library. Permanent staff of the Centre includes two staff lawyers, one program administrator and one social worker to help students support clients beyond legal work.

Law Centre Court House

Each student is temporarily articled with a local member of the bar who they can consult with on the cases they are assigned. Students are provided a caseload that generally breaks down to cover about 30% criminal law, 30% family law, 10% human rights with some other topics such as wills. Human rights files have been included since 2003 when the clinic was selected by the provincial government for funding as a human rights clinic to assist clients with accessing the Human Rights Tribunal.

2013 Law Yearbook: Co-op & Law Centre

The Centre serves up to 2,000 low-income clients every year and is the longest running common law clinical program in Canada. It provides an important service to members of the community who are unable to pay for legal services, while providing students the opportunity to gain a sense of professional responsibility and apply theories learned in class to real-world situations.

Law Centre students have an advantage in gaining articling positions after graduation because of their practical experience in negotiating, interviewing clients, appearing in court and preparing for a variety of trials.

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