Legal Student Placement Opportunities at the Clinic

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic offers legal services and representation, trauma-informed counselling and multilingual interpretation to diverse women who have experienced violence. We cultivate women’s skills and resilience by fostering their safety, dignity and equality and we amplify women’s voices to create individual and collective change. The umbrella term “woman” recognizes that gender is self-identification that is not necessarily correspondent with assigned sex at birth. We recognize the complexity and diversity of gender and aim to be inclusive to people outside of and across the gender spectrum.


The Schlifer Clinic offers a number of different student education programs in Toronto and across the country.  Volunteer and placement opportunities exist through the academic year and over the summer. More information on these programs and opportunities can be found below.

Legal Summer Student Program 2021

Deadline to apply is February 5, 2021 at 5 pm


The Schlifer Clinic’s Legal Department is currently accepting applications for our 2021 Summer Student Program. Every summer, we host summer students:

  • through externally funded internships/fellowships;
    for pre-arranged course credit; or
  • as volunteers.

The Clinic does not have any internal funding for these summer student positions.

Minimum Requirements

Students should have some legal training, work experience or education in one or more areas of law practiced by the Clinic, including family, immigration and sexual assault law. All students are expected to be aware of and to abide by the Schlifer Clinic’s Mission and Value Statements. As part of their summer placement at the Clinic, selected students may be asked to assist with Intake, Family Court Support, Legal Administration and/or staff lawyers’ work.  Specific assignments, projects, and work arrangements will be discussed between the student and supervisor.

Students applying for external fellowships/internships

Applications for summer student positions funded through external fellowships/internships will be accepted until February 5, 2021.

Selected students will be contacted by February 19 to discuss and finalize their applications and will be provided letters of support as required.  If a request has to be expedited to meet a funding deadline, please contact:  Natalia Simoes at [email protected] (No telephone calls please.)


Students applying for course credit or as volunteers

Applications for summer student volunteers or course credit positions will be accepted on an ongoing basis, depending on the needs and capacity of the Clinic. There is no application deadline for these positions.

Selected students will be contacted in the spring to discuss available opportunities.

Please note: if you are applying for a funded position and do not receive funding, or also wish to be considered for a volunteer/course credit position, please advise the Clinic if you would like to be considered for a summer volunteer position.

To apply:

Please provide the following information:

  • Resume;
  • A short Statement of Interest outlining:

o your interest and/or experience in social justice and/or gender-based rights and/or gender-based violence;

o your interest and/or experience in any of the areas of law practiced by the Clinic, including the area(s) of law in which you are interested;

o type of work in which you are interested (e.g. file work, project-based work, any proposed projects).

  • Your availability and the time commitment you are able to make;
  • Writing sample no longer than 10 pages, double spaced (an excerpt from a longer paper is acceptable);
  • (if applicable) Summary of the Fellowship/Internship/course credit for which you are applying and any deadlines.

Please note:  We do our best to place all accepted summer students. However, sometimes, we are simply not able to do so. We will let you know as soon as possible if this is the case.

Please email the above information to Natalia Simoes at [email protected]

No telephone calls please.

Public Interest Articling Fellowship

This program has been available since 1996 to a qualified student enrolled in a Canadian law school.

It is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario and is administered by Pro Bono Students Canada.

It offers an alternative articling experience, focusing on public interest/social justice advocacy

The successful applicant will be involved in all aspects of the delivery of family and immigration/refugee law services, including:

  • providing information and summary legal advice (under a lawyers’ supervision)
  • drafting pleadings
  • developing litigation strategies
  • investigating and preparing client cases (documentation, evidence)
  • interviewing clients
  • managing client files
  • legal research
  • representing clients in proceedings according to the Rules of relevant courts/tribunals

Opportunities also exist to assist in the delivery of public legal education programs and to engage in various systemic advocacy initiatives. The student is expected to carry a caseload of files, and engage in ongoing supervision and training.

Consult the Law Foundation of Ontario, your law school career centre and/or the Law Society of Ontario website for application due dates.

We appreciate the on-going support of the Law Foundation of Ontario and Pro Bono Students Canada.



University of Toronto Clinical Education Placement

For more than a decade, the Clinic has delivered a Clinical Education program for second and third year law students at the University of Toronto.

Each year the Clinic recruits four to six students to work with our staff lawyers in family, immigration and refugee, and criminal law matters.

Students are exposed to a full range of legal applications in these areas of law and have extensive opportunity to work closely with both lawyers and clients.

Students are expected to:

  • do a weekly shift at the Clinic
  • carry a caseload of five or more files
  • attend orientation and ongoing training at the Clinic
  • attend monthly seminars
  • consult regularly with staff lawyers.

Students receive academic credit for this placement.

Students play a vital role in the delivery of our programs and services and contribute enormously to our efforts to pursue legal remedies to redress the harms of violence.

Students should submit a resume and letter of interest in early spring for placement the following September.

We thank the University of Toronto Law School for its ongoing promotion and support of this program.

Pro Bono Students Canada Family Court Support Project

In 2012 the Schlifer Clinic established its first Family Court Support Project (FCSP) in collaboration with Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC).

Eight law students from Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto Law School will assist in the delivery of the Clinic’s Family Court Support program at the Ontario Courts of Justice.

The Family Court Support program is a new initiative of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, operates across the province and is intended to assist victims of domestic violence to navigate the family court process.

The range of services include:

  • provision of legal information about family law and available remedies
  • risk assessment and safety planning
  • referral to court-based legal professionals and other legal resources (Legal Aid Ontario and the Family law Bar where possible)
  • court accompaniment and debriefing
  • referral to community services

Interested students should contact their PBSC coordinator in early September. Students are recruited and trained by PBSC.

Additional Volunteer Opportunities

Students from law schools across Canada volunteer their services to the Clinic year-round.

The Clinic provides interested students/volunteers with opportunities to engage in direct services to clients as well as to participate in various systemic initiatives, research or other projects undertaken by the Clinic from time to time.

  • Family Court Support Program
  • Legal Department Volunteers in Family, Refugee, and Immigration Law

The Program

The Family Court Support Program is a front-line service delivery program that assists women in the three Toronto-area family courts.

As a volunteer, you would assist social workers to provide women with nonlegal support and advocacy. Work may include providing legal information (not advice), emotional support (not counselling), note-taking at court appearances, and assistance with connecting clients to legal aid, housing services, or income support.


Expectations and Commitment

Court is a fast-paced environment and the work may involve high-risk cases. The work can be chaotic and stressful. Volunteers are expected to be respectful of clients and court staff at all times, to follow instructions given by the supervising court support worker, to arrive for shifts and complete tasks in a timely manner, and to act professionally and with courtesy. Volunteers will be working in a demanding front-line position that requires a high degree of maturity and the ability to multi-task.

Our Court Support volunteers typically work in weekly “shifts”. Morning shifts are from 10 am-1pm, and afternoon shifts are from 2 pm-5 pm.


Minimum Requirements

Volunteers are expected to commit to a minimum of 12-weeks in the program. The Family Court Support Program is the only volunteering opportunity in the legal department for people without legal training. Typically, volunteers are law students, social work students, former Clinic legal department volunteers, lawyers and social workers who are between jobs, or some combination of the above. Women with previous experience providing front-line assistance and/or relevant training are encouraged to apply (ex. volunteering at a sexual assault centre, women’s centre, or crisis line, demonstrated interest in social justice work, knowledge/practice of anti-oppression approaches, volunteering in an outreach capacity).

All volunteers and students are expected to be aware of and to abide by the Schlifer Clinic Mission and Value Statements.


How to Apply

Submit your resume, and include the following information:

  • Describe your interest or experience in social justice and/or women’s rights;
  • Describe your interest or experience volunteering /working/being trained for a relevant client-services role;
  • Provide your available time commitment (preferred or possible “shifts” per week, including day of week, and proposed start and end dates of the placement);
  • Send a list of courses taken in family law, social justice or women’s rights. (Marks are not necessary, a course list is fine).

We do our best to place all accepted volunteers, but sometimes we are simply not able to do so. We will let you know as soon as possible if this is the case.

To be considered, please forward the above information to Faith-Ann Mendes [email protected]