Petition of support for the establishment of a student legal aid clinic at UNB

  5 (Goal: 200)

Petitioning: UNB Law

Petitioner: Amanda started on December 15, 2011

We, the undersigned students at the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Law are committed to promoting and enhancing a culture of increased access to justice in the Province of New Brunswick. Our desire as a student body is to affect the implementation of a Student Legal Aid Clinic program which is in line with the recently established legal aid clinic at the Universite de Moncton (which has been running successfully for almost one year), and following a model similar to the renowned legal aid clinic at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.

The state of legal aid and access to justice in the Province of New Brunswick is disparaging, to say the least. A 2007 report entitled “If there were legal aid in New Brunswick: A Review of Legal Aid Services in New Brunswick” (co-authored by UNB Law faculty member Dr. Jula Hughes) indicates that current legal aid service offerings in the Province “fall far short of what is needed to ensure access to justice for all.”

Based on research conducted, the report’s authors point to the establishment of student legal aid clinics in the province as a top priority.

The need for legal aid clinics in the province has been ongoing. In the aforementioned 2007 report, the Review Panel was directed to investigate – among other things – the possibility and usefulness of establishing student legal aid clinics associated with the two law faculties in the province. As the report indicates, student legal aid clinics bring great benefits for students, graduates, and the community as a whole, including:

• The provision of services in currently severely under-serviced areas;
• The expansion of poverty law and family law services;
• The provision of advice to clients outside the current service offerings;
• Increased support to counsel and pre-screening for legal aid staff lawyers;
• The enhancement of student legal education through a strong clinical component;
• The development of community service skills and ethics for participating students and graduates;
• Increased awareness among law school graduates about legal aid programs;
• Increased recruitment opportunities for the NBLASC (New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission);
• Increased support for the legal aid program among the legal community; and,
• The fostering of a pro bono culture among students.

To assist in remedying these highly important access to justice issues and to help meet the growing demand for legal aid services in New Brunswick, we, the undersigned students of the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Law, are committed to and highly supportive of the establishment of a legal aid clinic within the Faculty of Law.

Such a clinical experience would be an added asset to our first-rate education, and would promote not only increased access to justice within the Province of New Brunswick, but will also enable us to further increase our professional skills and ethics, and better prepare us for the practice of law in the province and beyond.