TRU Law Launches Community Legal Clinic

April 13, 2016

Kamloops is now home to the BC Interior’s only community legal clinic, thanks to the Faculty of Law at Thompson Rivers University.

Under the leadership of supervising lawyer Ted Murray, six law students per semester will run the clinic, assisting low-income clients with tenancy and housing issues. This is the first area of focus for the clinic, and over the coming year students will also be assisting clients with employment, small claims and minor criminal matters.

To be eligible for free legal help from the Community Legal Clinic (CLC), clients must meet certain financial requirements and not qualify for legal aid. Law students working at the clinic, who have the prerequisite Community Lawyering course, will interview clients and provide advice under the supervising of a lawyer.

The clinic provides important benefits for both clients and students: according to Assistant Professor Ruby Dhand, it “enables students to use the law as a tool for social justice by working with community agencies and local non-profit organizations to increase access to justice.”

Supervising lawyer Ted Murray remarked that “the biggest and most concrete thing you immediately get from a program like this is having clients, and even just the initial interview with the client and the process of identifying their legal issue is a very, very important skill for law students to develop.”

The Community Legal Clinic, which is located at the Centre for Seniors Information in the Brock shopping centre, has served about two dozen clients since it opened in late February, and held its official grand opening on April 1st, 2016. First-year funding was provided by the Law Foundation of BC, and it’s expected to be open two or three days per week year round, except during exam times and breaks.

According to Louise Richards, Executive Director of the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society, there used to be a legal aid clinic in Kamloops, but it closed more than a decade ago due to government funding cuts.

Listen to an interview with Ruby Dhand and Ted Murray about the CLC from CBC Kamloops here.

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