Students enrolled in the McGill Faculty of Law are fortunate to be located in a vibrant metropolis where so much public interest work is conducted, both on a local and global scale. Through the various student groups, research centres and individual initiatives, McGill law students have been able to put their legal skills to work for public interest causes. Furthermore, active participation and involvement has allowed students to expand their network and to develop valuable and lasting relationships with a supportive team of peers and colleagues.
Public Interest Law Network of McGill
McGill Law Students have an opportunity to serve in three leading networks that focus exclusively on public interest legal work.
HR Working Group
Human Rights Working Group (HRWG)
The HRWG is dedicated to promoting human rights education and advocacy among students in the Faculty of Law and the broader community. It also works with the Career Development Office to coordinate an annual Public Interest Career Day, just one part of HRWG’s commitment to assisting law students in finding employment or graduate study opportunities in the field of human rights and development.
The HRWG works on a variety of issues through the following portfolios:
- Public Health;
- Immigration and Refugee Law;
- Save Darfur;
- Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ);
- Legal Careers;
New initiatives are always welcome.
Through its portfolios, the HRWG engages in a wide variety of activities throughout the year. For example, it coordinates workshops, lectures, a legal outreach program, letter writing campaigns, lobbying initiatives, external training and research programs.
Pro Bono Students Canada
Pro Bono Students Canada est un réseau juridique comprenant toutes les facultés de droit du Canada et leurs étudiants et étudiantes, des organismes communautaires et des juristes qui travaillent ensemble pour résoudre des problèmes légaux qui restent traditionnellement sans réponse. PBSC encourage les étudiants et étudiantes et les juristes à faire du bénévolat dans leur communauté afin de permettre aux individus, groupes et organismes sous-représentés et désavantagés de bénéficier de services juridiques pro bono et de leur donner un accès à la justice.
PBSC McGill finds placements for students in order to offer them an opportunity to improve and use their legal knowledge and research skills. As such, they require that all placements are substantially legal in nature.
Potential tasks include:
- Researching legal issues relevant to the organization or their clients;
- Contributing to advocacy work on behalf of the organization. Producing reports and policy papers;
- Assisting Counsel in legal proceedings;
- Re-drafting board policy and manuals; and
- Performing legal education such as writing brochures or presenting workshops
Clinique d’information juridique de McGill
La Clinique d’information juridique de McGill offre aux étudiants de la Faculté de droit de nombreuses opportunités, telle la chance d’acquérir de l’expérience juridique pratique en cours d’études.
Durant son expérience à la Clinique, le bénévole aura l’occasion de se familiariser avec une multitude de domaines du droit. Citons, entre autres, le droit de la famille, le droit du travail, le droit du louage, la procédure civile et la propriété intellectuelle. Une participation active aux activités de la Clinique permet donc à l’étudiant d’élargir ses champs de connaissance et d’aiguiser ses aptitudes de recherche.
La Clinique offre également aux organismes communautaires des sessions d’information juridique « Point d’info ». Les bénévoles, s’ils le désirent, sont invités à donner eux-mêmes les conférences. De plus, la Clinique envoie des étudiants bénévoles dans un grand nombre d’organismes communautaires. Ces étudiants sont alors supervisés par des avocats et reçoivent des crédits pour leur travail dans le cadre du cours de Clinique juridique.
Finalement, la Clinique offre un service de représentation des étudiants accusés d’infractions au code disciplinaire de l’Université McGill, comme le plagiat, ainsi qu’à ceux qui désirent déposer un grief contre l’Université McGill. Les étudiants liés à la Clinique portent assistance aux étudiants impliqués dans de telles procédures disciplinaires, tant au stade de la négociation qu’au stade d’une audience plus formelle devant les instances administratives. Ce type d’expérience au sein de la Clinique est précieux, en particulier pour les étudiants qui se destinent à une carrière en litige.
Law Students' Association Clubs
The following is a list of LSA approved student clubs with a public interest purpose as their mandate. Feel free to contact the club or the LSA directly for more information on how to get involved. It is also important to remember that while some of the clubs below are identity based, they are open to students from all backgrounds. Considering that all of the clubs are student run, your participation can go far in advancing a club’s mandate.
Aboriginal Law Association (ALA)
The Aboriginal Law Association of McGill University, whose membership includes both native and non-native law students, seeks to raise awareness of aboriginal issues within the student population and among the public at large. The association also seeks to provide a support network for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students attending the Faculty of Law.
Email: ala [dot] law [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Asia Pacific Law Association (APLAM)
The Asia Pacific Law Association is a rather recent club having been started in 2003 by students who share a common interest in the Asia-Pacific region and the law. They have 12-15 active members and a long list of others who primarily show up for events.
Email: aplam [dot] mcgill [at] gmail [dot] com
Association of McGill Arab Law Students (AMALS):
The Arab Law Students' Association was founded in January 2006. They aim to create a space for those at the faculty who share an interest in the Arab world and work towards promoting consciousness and understanding of Arab cultural, political and legal issues. They also aim to provide a link between the faculty and the Arab communities both in Canada and abroad.
Black Law Students Association of McGill (BLSAM)
The BLSAM is a member group of the Black Law Student’s Association of Canada (BLSAC). With partnerships throughout Canada and the U.S., the Black Law Students’ Association is the largest student-run network in North America. The main goal of the McGill Chapter is to encourage and support Black law students in the pursuit of academic excellence.
Disability and the Law
Disability and the Law is a group dedicated to raising awareness of disability issues by presenting domestic legal and human rights issues through a disability lens. Established in 2002, the group has sponsored events on topics such as the intersection of tax and disability policy and Access to Justice for people with mental disabilities.
Environmental Law McGill (ELM)
Founded in 1989, Environmental Law McGill (ELM) is made up of students with an interest in all aspects of environmental law and environmental awareness. ELM is a gathering point for big and little projects that impact the Faculty and often the wider community.
Access to justice is a growing concern for people who lack the financial means to hire legal counsel, but more importantly who are socially marginalized. Equity/Access was started in response to growing access-to-justice issues for some of Montreal’s most marginalized groups.
Innocence McGill is dedicated to researching and investigating claims of wrongful conviction in the province of Quebec. Its ultimate goal is to help secure the freedom of those who are factually innocent of serious crimes for which they continue to serve sentences in Quebec prisons.
Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA)
The Jewish Law Students’ Association (JLSA) is a McGill LSA accredited club that strives to bring law students together to share the richness of Jewish tradition and to foster respectful discussion and debate. They organize social and cultural activities at the Faculty with a view toward promoting Jewish culture. Additionally, they serve as a link with the wider McGill and Montreal Jewish communities, such as through an affiliation with the CJLSA and through links to their alumni and various Jewish groups.
Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA)
The mission of LALSA is to increase awareness about Latin American legal issues and to promote a deeper understanding of ongoing processes of reform in the region.
McGill International Law Society (MILS)
The McGill International Law Society (MILS) aims to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas of students, leading practitioners, and scholars of international law. Its stated purpose is three-fold: first, to promote the study and analysis of international law in its various domains (public and private); second, to facilitate dialogue and debate on matters of international law; and third, to promote and advertise the different professional and educational opportunities that international law affords. MILS collaborates with the CDO on the Public Interest Career Day.
McGill Law Women’s Caucus
The Women's Caucus seeks to promote the interests of women within the legal community. Events sponsored by the Women's Caucus focus on both women in the legal profession and on legal issues that affect the interests and status of women, both locally and internationally. Meetings and outings are held on a regular basis throughout the school year.
McGill Radical Law Community
The McGill Radical Law Community has been in existence since 2001. It was originally initiated to support Libertas, a Montreal area legal collective. Today, members continue to support social movements and are involved in a variety of projects on and off campus.
Outlaw McGill/ Les Étudiant(e)s Gais et Lesbiennes de McGill
Outlaw is the Faculty of Law’s queer students’ group. The students, ranging from first year to graduate programs, organize and participate in a number of events throughout the year. On the social front, it has sponsored films at the Faculty of Law and held a number of parties or outings in members' homes and at various locations in Montreal’s Gay Village.
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF)
SALDF is devoted to providing a forum for education, advocacy, and scholarship aimed at enhancing the welfare and legal status of animals. Their projects include hosting speakers and debates on current issues affecting animals, conducting educational events, and assisting lawyers and organizations in promoting positive change through litigation.
Ukrainian and Slavic Culture Club
Ukrainian and Slavic Culture Club unite Ukrainian- and Russian - speaking members of the Faculty, as well as anyone interested in Slavic culture and languages or Eastern Europe. The goal of the club is to promote the Slavic culture at the Faculty, welcome new-coming students with Slavic background or interest, and contribute to making their life at the Faculty a culturally fun and enriching experience.