For law students

The Law Centre provides law students with clinical and legal education. Students are trained and supervised in the conduct of legal matters by lawyers who are members of the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law.

The Law Centre Program is a full-term course worth 7.5 units. The Program is offered three times per year, during the Fall, Spring and Summer terms. The Program is open to 14 students each term, and to foster a cooperative spirit it is a pass-fail course. While enrolled in the Program students will develop skills, including interviewing, counselling, negotiation, drafting and oral advocacy skills.

COURSE NAME: Law 350 The Law Centre Clinical Law Program

PRE-REQUISITES: LAW 309 – Law of Evidence

UNIT VALUE: 7.5 units

HOURS PER WEEK: Students are required to attend this program “full-time”; minimum attendance being 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Additional time will be required for trial preparation, the conduct of files, seminars, and public education programs.

TERM OFFERED: Fall, Spring, Summer


See Academic Calendar for full description

Students will use advocacy skills when appearing before the Provincial Court (in the Criminal, Family and Small Claims Divisions) and administrative tribunals (such Employment and Assistance Tribunals, EI Board of Referees, CPP Tribunals, and Residential Tenancy Arbitrators).

Students can also expect to become familiar with criminal law and procedure, civil procedure as it relates to Small Claims, Family and Divorce matters, evidence, family law, corrections law, consumer law and social welfare legislation including Employment Insurance, CPP, Employment and Assistance (welfare), landlord and tenant and human rights law.

The term begins with a four-week intensive Orientation Period. The Orientation is conducted in the Moot Courtroom of the UVic Faculty of Law. Some students have described the Orientation Period as “boot camp.” But former students will tell you they never learned so much in so little time. During the Orientation Period class will meet daily from 9:00 a.m. to at least 5:00 p.m. At this time students will be introduced students to the skills and law they will need to effectively represent Law Centre clients. Classes will include lectures, demonstrations, role plays, and critiques of role plays. Students will also meet representatives from numerous government and private agencies that provide help to Law Centre clients including: the Crown, the police, the probation office, the Native Courtworkers, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Family Justice Counsellors, Transition House, the Family Violence Project, and the Separation and Divorce Resource Centre. Here is a Sample orientation schedule. Students should expect to set aside a portion of each evening to devote to the prescribed readings and preparation for the next days class.

After the orientation period the class moves to the Law Centre. The Law Centre is located in the Victoria Courthouse at 850 Burdett Avenue.

The first two weeks at the Law Centre are heavily structured. The Clinical Staff will meet with each student to thoroughly discuss each file each student has inherited. Students can expect to start with approximately 20-30 files. During the first two weeks students will begin preparing for court and administrative tribunal hearings. They will participate in many hours of training in order to be able to assist on “Rota,” i.e., initial interviewing of prospective clients . Students will participate in seminars with the police, crown counsel, duty counsel, trial coordinators, diversion administrators and other players in the criminal justice system. 

During the remainder of the term students will work on client files, represent clients in court and before administrative tribunals, and assist on Rota. Students will attend William Head Institution (a minimum-security prison) to assist individuals with their legal problems. Students will also attend extended care facilities to deal with legal problems of persons living in those facilities.

During the term students will be closely supervised in their work by Director of The Law Centre, Chris Heslinga, and other lawyers. All files being conducted by students will be reviewed during three formal file reviews. In addition, all trials and other significant court appearances will be attended and supervised by one of the Clinical Staff. The Clinical staff maintain a complete “open door” policy and students can get advice and assistance at any time with regarding files they are conducting.

During the term students will also participate in a series of seminars dealing the file management, stress management, time management, and various administrative law issues.

Every Friday morning students attend a planning and case commentary meeting. During this meeting we ensure that all cases coming up in the next several weeks have co-counsel appointed and a Clinical supervisor assigned to attend court with the student responsible for conducting the case. In addition, students discuss the legal, ethical, policy and procedural issues which arose in the cases they dealt with during the week. 

At the end of the term students are required to submit a research paper or develop a project that will improve the Law Centre.

Slideshow / Virtual tour

The term begins

The first month of the term is spent at the law school. During this time students develop the skills and knowledge they will need to effectively work on client problems at The Law Centre.

Dispute Resolution Room

The Dispute Resolution Room is the clinical program’s home during the first month of the term, where students go through an intensive orientation.

The Law Centre

After the orientation period the class moves to our offices in The Law Centre, located on the Quadra Street side of the Victoria Courthouse.

Law Centre Reception

More than 1,800 people pass through this door to The Law Centre annually, seeking legal advice and representation. Judy, our Clinic Administrator, will greet you and our clients when you arrive.

Interview rooms

A typical interview room where you will meet with clients.

Work area

The student work area is arranged so that you can work independently or with the support of your colleagues. There are 17 student work stations.

Open door policy

The faculty and staff maintain a complete open door policy so students can get continuous advice and assistance in the coduct of their files.

Planning meetings

The Thursday afternoon planning and case commentary meeting – where we discuss cases conducted by students during the preceding week and ensure that our commitments for future trials, hearings, intake and outreach are all going to be met.

Wall of Fame

This is the Wall of Fame, where more than 2,000 students who have participated in The Law Centre Clinical Program since 1977 have their names recorded.

Breath Alcohol Screening (ASD) Party

The “ASD Party” – a party with the serious purpose of learning how the police conduct an investigation with respect to a drinking driving offense. Here a student blows into the ASD.

Victoria Courthouse

The Victoria Courthouse – where students enrolled in the Law Centre represent clients in Provincial Court dealing with criminal, small claims and family matters. Students also appear here to make applications in Supreme Court Chambers.

Wilkinson Road Jail

The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre (Wilkinson Road Jail) is a maximum security prison where Law Centre students provide advice and assistance to inmates.

William Head Institution

William Head Institution is a minimum security Federal Correctional Facility, located 25 kms southwest of Victoria, where The Law Centre has operated a legal clinic for over 35 years.

Work and play

There is a lot more than just work and learning going on at the Law Centre. Staff and students celebrate whenever we can!

Student Testimonials

“The Law Centre was the best experience of law school. I learned more in four months at The Law Centre than the rest of law school combined. It was such a wonderful learning opportunity. I ran a criminal trial, helped tenants avoid eviction at RTB hearings, drafted wills, filed divorces, attended payment hearings, negotiated with Crown Counsel and so much more! I highly recommend it to all law students. I now feel much more equipped to start articling next year.”

“I will genuinely miss working here. It is a unique opportunity to learn from many different styles of research, and a safe environment to experience real advocacy. The staff are great people, and the office dog warms up to you eventually.”

“The hands-on experience I gained from The Law Centre was one of the best parts of law school. I learned to prepare for trials, draft pleadings and gained valuable interview skills. The experience was stressful at times but working with my fellow students was a lot of fun. I also feel a lot more confident being in the court room! The Law Centre is also a great way to discover your areas of interest that you want to practice in.”

“If you are even remotely interested in practicing law then you should ballot for the Law Centre. Even though I did three law co-op terms in public and private practice, the Law Centre was a unique opportunity because I actually was able to run my own files, instead of simply providing legal research support to other lawyers. I learned invaluable skills in client relations, trial prep, and managing my time effectively in a supportive, collaborative, and fun work environment. I also felt great satisfaction because I saw how the Law Centre’s work makes a real difference in terms of access to justice for vulnerable populations. It was an amazing summer!”

“Stop debating and just sign up for the Law Centre. Go out of your way to make it work in your schedule. It will be the most fun and beneficial semester you will have at law school.”