What to expect as a law student

About this Program

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. To foster a cooperative spirit, the Program is a pass-fail course. There are no pass pluses or fail minuses.

While enrolled in the Program students will develop skills, including:

  • interviewing
  • counselling
  • negotiation
  • drafting
  • oral advocacy skills

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 became 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 Courtworkes, the Ombudsman’s Office, the Family Jusice Counsellors, Transition House, the Family Violence Project, and the Separation and Divorce Resource Centre. Click here to see 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.

At the end of the Orientation Period students are required to complete a take home exam. The exam usually takes about 12 hours to complete.

After the exam 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 35 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. A highlight of the first two weeks at the Law Centre is the “ASD Party.” Students will be introduced to research in the operation of the Data Master and the “Approved Screening Device” by a forensic scientist reknown for his work in the field of impaired driving. This knowledge will assist students in defending clients charged with drunk driving offences. During the Breathalyser Party students will have an opportunity to imbibe and have a sample of their breath analyzed. Then party on…

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) and Wilkinson Road Jail (a maximum security prison) to assist inmates 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 the Clinical Director, Glenn Gallins, The Assistant Clinical Director, Steve Perks, and the Clinical Instructor, Tybring Hemphill. 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 regard to 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 afternoon 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. While structured, the Friday afternoon meeting is conducted in an informal, “happy hour” atmosphere.

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