Law Clinics

[people looking at a whiteboard]
Staff at the Queen's Law Clinics in 2015 (Photo by Greg Black)

Since its founding in 1957, the Faculty of Law at Queen’s has endeavoured to live up to its motto Soit Droit Fait (Let Right Be Done). Its first dean, William Lederman (1958-68), argued that the faculty must reach out to the community it served.

Dean Lederman’s colleagues shared this outlook, as exemplified by Stuart Ryan. An advocate of civil liberties and human rights, Professor Ryan took his students to Kingston penitentiaries to see first-hand one of the human outcomes of the justice system. Justice, he stressed, must serve not just the interests of those socially and politically privileged, but also those on its margins.

In 1967, when the Ontario established a legal-aid scheme to provide subsidized legal advice to those who couldn’t afford counsel, Queen’s law faculty joined this initiative and, in 1970, established a walk-in legal clinic that allowed law students, under the supervision of fully-fledged lawyers, to advise Kingstonians.

From the outset, the clinic went looking for clients, opening an office in downtown Kingston and purchasing a van to carry advice to the counties. Closer to campus, students with landlord problems found a convenient means of clarifying their rights as tenants.

[staff at the legal aid clinic]
Queen's Legal Aid Clinic, 2013

In 1974, federal funding allowed the faculty to launch its Correctional Law and Legal Assistance Project, which gave inmates in Kingston correctional institutions access to legal assistance. Guided by law professors Ron Price and Allan Manson, the project brought cases testing the prisoners’ rights before the courts. Other professors became involved in the Elizabeth Fry and John Howard Societies.

The Queen’s Legal Aid Clinic spread its wings in the early 21st century. Under Dean William Flanagan since 2004, four new legal clinics in business, family, elder and prison law (supported by funding from Legal Aid Ontario and the Law Foundation of Ontario) have connected the faculty’s expertise with targeted groups in Kingston. These new clinics offer community members who may otherwise be unable to afford legal counsel to access to pro bono advice from young law students and give the students some real-life exposure to the practice of law.

Queen's Law Clinics...