Queen's Legal Aid operates as a specialized clinic for economically disadvantaged residents of the Kingston and Napanee areas, as well as for Queen's University students. It is largely funded by the provincial government through Legal Aid Ontario, but partially funded as well through Queen's student activity fees.
Law students participating in clinic activities provide valuable legal assistance and, in addition, learn through experience about the role of an effective legal practitioner.
Clinic clients face charges for criminal or quasi-criminal offences, disputes arising from tenancy agreements or other contracts, as well as from acts of negligence, wrongful dismissal by employers, refusals of government benefits and problems arising from university discipline proceedings. Law students assisting these clients learn interviewing, counselling, researching, writing, negotiating and advocating skills. When settlement is not possible or desirable, students participate in trials before criminal and civil courts, as well as hearings before administrative tribunals. Because of its poverty law mandate, the clinic performs a means test on potential clients other than Queen's University students and does not offer assistance to landlords or employers.
Queen's Legal Aid operates with a core staff of two lawyers, a clinic administrator, an administrative assistant and a receptionist. When funding is available, it also employs an articling student.
Approximately eighty law students participate in clinic activities each year. Some are registered in Clinical Litigation Practice LAW-590
. Others are registered for Queen's Legal Aid Student Leadership recognition LAW-591
. These students perform their work for academic credit. (Descriptions of these courses, which have both academic and other clinical components, are included in the Courses of Instruction chapter.) The remaining students perform their work on a volunteer basis.
Many students seek to join the clinic in some capacity each year. Students seeking to register in LAW-590
must select it through the electronic course pre-registration and course change processes in QCARD. See http://calendar.our.queensu.ca/Default.aspx?sid=ContentDisplay&bgid=14&bkid=121&chid=2568&pgid=29027#
. Second year law students seeking to pre-register or register in LAW-591
Queen's Legal Aid Student Leadership and third year students seeking to pre-register or register in LAW-592
Queen's Legal Aid Student Leadership must do so through a manual process administered by the Academic Program Manager, Nancy Somers (email@example.com) during the fall add/drop period, 4-11 September 2007 or though the Academic Standing and Policies Committee after the add/drop period has closed.
Students experienced with clinic work can also apply for summer employment. Those selected bear significant responsibility for clients' files from May through August, as well as for training and guiding other students during the following academic year, when they are eligible for credit through LAW-591
. Students seeking to volunteer their services must participate in a more informal balloting process carried out each September.
All students participating in clinic activities undergo mandatory training and have the benefit of a broadly based, easily accessible support system through their peers and clinic staff. Policies and procedures have been tested and adopted with both service and education in mind.
Public education is important to Queen's Legal Aid and, as a result, law students involved with the clinic are encouraged to attend community meetings to foster awareness of legal rights and responsibilities. In addition, the clinic publishes and distributes a wide range of pamphlets and guides to encourage awareness of the legal system and to support efforts at self-help.
Queen's Legal Aid operates from the Faculty of Law. The main clinic office is located on the fourth floor of Macdonald Hall.
Charlesworth, Susan E.
Senior Review Counsel
Conflict of Interest Policy for Queen's Legal Aid
Statement of Principle
Law students working or seeking to work with Queen's Legal Aid must be able to provide legal assistance to clinic clients without interference from interests or loyalties that lie elsewhere. In so doing, they must adhere to the rules governing the relationship between solicitors and their clients. As a result, they must advise clinic lawyers of any circumstances that might impinge upon their clinic activities. These circumstances include actual disputes with a client or client group, obligations that might adversely affect a client or client group and situations that might undermine the continuing duty of confidentiality owed to all clients. Any student working with a community agency should consider the potential for a conflict of interest, as should any student employed with a government agency, a law firm or another organization providing legal services.
1 All students are advised of its conflict of interest policy when they seek to join Queen's Legal Aid in any capacity.
2 Any student who becomes aware of a potential conflict of interest, whether before, during or subsequent to an electronic pre-registration or registration or manual balloting balloting process, must meet with the senior clinic lawyer to:
a determine whether there is or might be a conflict of interest;
b determine whether the conflict of interest can be accommodated
without risk to clinic clients or undue inconvenience to the clinic; or
c determine whether the conflict of interest renders the student's
participation in clinic activities impossible.
3 The senior clinic lawyer will consider the Rules of Professional Conduct for the Law Society of Upper Canada, consult with other clinic staff as appropriate about a potential conflict of interest and then provide a written decision about it, with supporting reasons within one week of meeting with the student.
4 Upon determining that there is or might be a conflict of interest that can be accommodated, the senior clinic lawyer will advise the student about any terms and conditions for continuing participation in clinic activities.
5 Upon determining that there is or might be a conflict of interest that cannot be accommodated, the senior clinic lawyer will advise the student that participation in clinic activities is impossible or must cease.
1 The student can appeal the decision of the senior clinic lawyer to the Academic Standing and Policies Committee.
2 The student must commence an appeal to the Academic Standing and Policies Committee within two weeks of the date upon which the senior clinic lawyer provides the decision and supporting reasons.
3 The student can also appeal failure by the senior clinic lawyer to provide the decision and supporting reasons within one week of meeting with the student. Such an appeal is also made to the Academic Standing and Policies Committee, and must be commenced within two weeks of the date upon which the decision and supporting reasons should have been provided.
4 The student can appeal the decision of the Academic Standing and Policies Committee to Faculty Board.
Pending a final decision regarding a potential conflict of interest, the student may participate in clinic training sessions and LAW-590
classes, but may not perform file work or other clinic duties without express written permission from the senior clinic lawyer.