Canadian Lawyers Abroad Goes Next Level With New Name and New Look

September 10, 2015

Dear Friends,

After a year-long rebranding process, we are proud to unveil Canadian Lawyers Abroad’s new name and logo:


Canadian Lawyers Abroad’s evolution to Level is more than just a fresh look. It is a new direction that celebrates our organization’s role in creating opportunities for justice in Canada and abroad. It captures our belief that uniting the power of people, education and law will lead to a more equitable and just society. It reflects our commitment to substantive equality, and it illustrates a simple truth — when you support Level you change lives.

While our organization primarily operates in English, we have stayed true to our bilingual, Canadian heritage with a corresponding French name and tagline: Égaliser. Changeons des vies par le droit.

Please see our press release for more information, and visit our newly launched website at (our French website will follow in the coming months at

On behalf of our Board of Directors and Executive, I would like to thank the various members of our network that volunteered their time and provided feedback during the brand development stage. We are especially grateful to our Advisory Board for their continued support and guidance, as well as to the Traffik Group whose expertise made this transition possible.

Stay tuned for updates about our 2015-16 program delivery and upcoming activities. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and support during the transition process.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or feedback.



Brittany Twiss, Executive Director

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beyond Borders as a Legal Intern with Canadian Lawyers Abroad

Melody Burke is completing her CLA-ACE internship with Beyond Borders in Ottawa, Ontario.

My internship at Beyond Borders ECPAT has been an eye-opening experience.

When I first began the internship, I did not know what to expect in terms of workload or even content, to a major extent. I knew Beyond Borders was an organization whose focus was advancing the rights of children, specifically targeting sexual abuse and exploitation. I did not realize the various forms of sexual abuse and exploitation that existed in the world involving children.

However, I soon learnt about child trafficking, child marriage, online child exploitation, female genital mutilation, etc. by updating the website’s Fact Sheets, which involved all of these topics and more. In order to update the Fact Sheets, it was necessary to research the current status of various bills and statistics, update references, and review the new trends and cases that have emerged on each subject.


At a conference in Toronto called the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto Symposium at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Cindy Blackstock and Alanis Obomsawin give a talk discussing the “Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on First Nations Child Welfare”.

After I completed updating the Fact Sheets for the website, I began working with Mr. Mark Hecht, the Co-founder and Senior Legal Counsel at Beyond Borders, on his report that highlights the status of sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, specifically by drafting a section called “MENA at the Committee on the Rights of the Child”. Once the section was completed, I was tasked with my current assignment of answering four research questions to supplement the paper.

My internship with Beyond Borders has already greatly expanded my view of children’s rights, both locally and globally, as well as reminding me why I was fascinated in law in the first place.

Michele Anderson and Bruce Rivers

At the same conference, Michele Anderson and Bruce Rivers give a talk on “Sex Trafficking and Homeless Youth: A Solution-Focused Approach”.

Learning about the many injustices in the world can be disheartening, but nothing is more hopeful and encouraging than realizing that there are ways to legally combat social injustice, such as changing a legal infrastructure or improving victim treatment. I have looked forward to all my projects this summer and learning more about children’s rights and international law.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the Ground and In the Court with CLA’s Chiefs of Ontario Intern

Elysia Petrone-Reitberger is completing her internship in Toronto, Canada with the Chiefs of Ontario. 

July 13, 2015

I am this year’s CLA summer intern at the Chiefs of Ontario. On June 16, I walked the few block down Queen St. to observe the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation (“Chippewa FN”) have their day at the Federal Court of Appeal. Chippewa FN had a busload of supporters that were set up in an overflow room and there were a hundred or so rallying outside. Inside three justices were presiding: Justice Ryer, Justice Webb and Justice Rennie.

It took me a few minutes to figure out who was who. Representing the Appellant (Chippewa FN) was David Nahwegahbow and Scott Robertson who sat front left. Joshua Jantzi and Doug Crowther were on the right representing Enbridge Pipelines Inc. (“Enbridge”). Peter Southey, Dayna Anderson and Sarah Bird, also on the right represented the Attorney General of Canada. Finally, Rebecca Brown for the National Energy Board (“NEB”) was on the left behind the Chippewa FN’s lawyers.

CoOIt was an interesting scene to watch. All the lawyers had a turn to make oral arguments and each had a Q&A with the judges. It was difficult to guess whose side the judges were on. For the most part, it seemed to me they favoured Enbridge but at the end it felt like there could have been a shift.

Chippewa FN are signatories to several treaties with the British Crown, which recognizes and affirms their exclusive rights to their unceded lands. Enbridge wants to run more heavy crude through their traditional territory. So the NEB held hearings and Chippewa FN was an intervener. The NEB later approved Line 9. The Chippewa FN holds the NEB did not address whether the Crown’s duty to consult was triggered in the circumstances of Enbridge’s application. The NEB did not make any findings regarding the adequacy of Crown consultation.

The main issue the court will determine is whether the NEB has jurisdiction under their Act to discharge the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate. Chippewa FN’s argued they do not have jurisdiction and that the Crown’s delegation of both the procedural and substantive elements of the Crown’s duty to consult is unlawful. Also, they argued the NEB erred by not considering the strength of Chippewa FN’s Aboriginal and Treaty right and misconceived the impacts of Line 9.

When the NEB approved Line 9, it suggested Enbridge’s consultation and Chippewa FN participation at the NEB hearing were sufficient. While the NEB stated they recognized the potential for impacts on traditional land use (TLU) if a spill occurs, they still hold the impacts are unlikely and they would be minimal and mitigated.

Thames4Nahwegahbow went through the Rio Tinto[1] 3-part test and argued the duty to consult was triggered. He said Chippewa FN are under Treaty so the Crown has notice. He went on to state that Enbridge’s application is contemplated Crown conduct and the potential adverse impacts favour extensive consultation and accommodation based on the seriousness of the cumulative impacts to the Chippewa FN members’ use of the land and resources close to Line 9. Nahwegahbow also pointed out that Chippewa FN asserts title over the Thames River.

Chippewa FN in their factum state “the process is not well-suited for meaningful engagement with Aboriginal peoples and the NEB decisions show a pattern of ‘rubberstamping’ applications, the board uses standard boilerplate language.”

Robertson finished his arguments by claiming the NEB’s failure to properly assess and consider the seriousness of the First Nation claim and the impact of the infringement on that claim amounted to errors of law reviewable on a standard of correctness. Chippewa FN want the appeal to be allowed and an order quashing the NEB’s decision.

Enbridge, had several seats reserved in the court for some of its corporate employees. Enbridge’s lawyers want the appeal to be dismissed and argued the NEB had no duty to assess the adequacy of Crown consultation. Enbridge heavily relied on Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation v. Enbridge 2009 FCA 308 [“Standing Buffalo”] a decision written by Justice Ryer. The Supreme Court refused to grant the First Nations in Standing Buffalo leave to appeal. Justice Ryer had several lines of questioning on how one can get around that decision. Chippewa FN’s lawyer pointed out that Rio Tinto is the most recent decision out of the SCC on the duty to consult and that is the case that needs to be followed.

Enbridge argued the Crown’s duty to consult was not triggered as it fails the 3rd step since there is no casual relationship between the approval of Line 9 and any appreciable adverse effect on the exercise of Chippewa FN’s rights or interests. They also submit the NEB is the expert and they should get judicial deference and that the standard of review is reasonableness.

Attorney General of Canada (“AGC”) was next up. They submit the NEB is not the Crown or its agent- it is a quasi-judicial body and its duties do not include evaluating or assessing the Crown’s independent duty to consult. They held the NEB did its job and that Standing Buffalo is the applicable and binding case law. They requested the appeal be dismissed. The AGC argued there needed to be another proceeding, which could engage the Crown’s independent duty to consult, since the Federal Court of Appeal was not the proper venue, in their opinion. This argument was not popular with the audience, as the sentiment was First Nations do not want to be dragged through multiple layers of courtrooms.

Southey for the AGC also made unpopular comments when he submit the Crown’s duty to consult would be on the low end of the spectrum and that it had been entirely discharged through the NEB’s process.

The NEB’s lawyer was up last. She did not have mush to say. She stated the NEB is taking no position and that the NEB has jurisdiction to hear and determine matters of fact or law.

ChippewaoftheThamesDEMO1It was a fascinating case to observe for my first time in the Federal Court of Appeal. I am now patiently waiting to see how the judges will decide.

The decision is to be released sometime this summer.

[1] Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. v. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, [2010] 2 SCR 650, 2010 SCC 43

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Deep and Rich: Experiences as an Legal Intern with First Nation in Fort Mac

Caissie Richards is completing her CLA-ACE internship in Fort McMurray, Alberta with the Mikisew Cree First Nation.


The great northern skies over Mikisew Cree First Nation, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

Working with the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) has expanded my legal education and allowed me to experience my hometown of Fort McMurray from a unique perspective. A recent visit to nearby Fort Chipewyan has given me a deeper appreciation for the issues that face the MCFN throughout their traditional territory. It has also allowed me to better understand the MCFN’s connection to the natural environment and the impact that legislation and industry action can have on their way of life.

As the legal intern at MCFN Government and Industry Relations, I’ve been able to review various pieces of legislation in Alberta including the Responsible Energy Development Act, the Mines and Minerals Act, and the Historical Resources Act, to name a few. The purpose of reviewing these acts has been to flag various sections that may be of interest to MCFN in order to provide information regarding the legal frameworks that may affect their Aboriginal or Treaty Rights. This experience along with writing letters and attending meetings has provided me with a practical understanding of what the Duty to Consult means and the breadth of its application. While writing letters to government and industry proponents to outline concerns with various policies, initiatives, and projects, I have learned about the relationship between these actions and the impact that they can have on the MCFN’s rights.

Overall, the process of researching and writing has exposed me to the values that are important to the MCFN and to other First Nations.

I’ve also received exposure to Alberta’s regulatory process through my research. For example, I had recently been tasked with researching reclamation liabilities in regard to mining operations, in an attempt to understand the amount of financial security that companies are required to provide to ensure that reclamation does occur should they become insolvent. Notably, the Auditor General recently flagged this issue after a review of the Mine Financial Security Program.

Looking forward, I know the rest of my summer will be filled with unique and exciting experiences that will include attending a hearing for a proposed hydro dam in British Columbia.

– Cassie Richards

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

@FIDAKenya w/Allie – Diverse Legal Experiences from Courts to Communities

Allie Thompson is completing her internship in Nairobi, Kenya with the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA). 


FIDA is a non-profit organization committed to the creation of a society that is free from all forms of discrimination against women. The organization provides legal services to indigent women, provides educational clinics and creates awareness of legal rights. FIDA also trains women on how to represent themselves in court, undertakes public interest litigation, researches and reports on women’s rights violations, and advocates for law and policy reform.

            I have had the opportunity to take part in some very interesting projects over the past weeks.

For example, I contributed to a draft request for an advisory opinion from the African Court of Human and People’s Rights, and helped draft the pleadings for a strategic litigation case.

AllieBlogPic1I have completed various research projects, and have participated in several stakeholders workshops. At these workshops, I have contributed to round table discussions by giving recommendations on topics including youth mentorship, transitional justice, human trafficking, and the implementation of Kenya’s National Action Plan.

I also attended one of FIDA’s legal education workshops in Kibera, which is the largest urban slum in Africa.

My experiences at FIDA have been incredibly diverse and rewarding, and I feel really lucky to be working at such an incredible organization this summer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kenya-Jade in Kenya: Life, Law and the International Commission of Jurists in Nairobi

Kenya-Jade Pinto is completing her CLA-ACE internship in Nairobi, Kenya with the International Commission of Jurists.
As a little girl growing up on the Kenyan coast to an Indo-Kenyan father and Canadian mother, the memories I have are warm and fuzzy. A young me scampered through our safe, gated complex with knotted hair, a toothy grin, and legs covered in scars and bruises from climbing trees I shouldn’t have. Memories of a warm ocean and sand between my toes come to my mind; of a comfortable and privileged life reliant on a thriving tourism economy. I grew up privileged enough to see Kenya for all of her very beautiful quirks and qualities: neep tides that uncover vast expanses of sandy white beach; long lineups at the ferry made bearable by fresh cassava chips drenched in squeezed lemon and chili powder; and the atmospheric ethos of a hardworking and deeply passionate people. I suspect that my parents might have uncovered their own favourite qualities, and formalized those sentiments on my birth certificate 😉
Snuck in an obligatory few moments of “explore” time before ICJ’s Access to Information meeting in Naivasha.

Snuck in an obligatory few moments of “explore” time before ICJ’s Access to Information meeting in Naivasha.

Coming back to Kenya as an adult, my eyes have been opened to some of the challenges and opportunities that Kenyans are faced with on a daily basis. The International Commission of Jurists in Kenya are actively working on some of these things and have been doing so since 1959. Specifically, the programs that ICJ Kenya focus on are Access to Justice, Democratization, Human Rights and International Cooperation.

I’m placed in the office of the Executive Director, and so I’ve been working on legal research supporting the organization’s larger advocacy strategies.
In addition to legal research for the office of the ED, ICJ have empowered me to take on the things that interest me.
As a result, I’ve been involved in meetings on the 2/3 gender principle (ensuring the constitutional promise that no more than 2/3 of elected officials should be of the same gender is in place), contributed to a case digest aimed at helping organizations understand a legal framework around women’s rights, engaged in constitutional research surrounding post election violence, contributed to funding and donor research, and have even become ad hoc in house photographer along the way!
Human Rights Program Director, Victor Kapiyo, is on his way in to the office in this candid moment.

Human Rights Program Director, Victor Kapiyo, is on his way in to the office in this candid moment.

Today I’m in Naivasha supporting the organization with a Bill that they are encouraging county representatives to consider around Access to Information. National Security is obviously a huge limitation to this kind of legislation, and I can’t help but think about the Canadian comparisons.
Nairobi is a really exciting place to be and so I’ve been taking full advantage of the weekends here. So far, I’ve managed to watch my favourite Kenyan artist live and climb Mount Longonot. This weekend I’m shooting flamingos in Nakuru! (… err, with my camera).
My colleagues think it’s so funny that I’m obsessed with these Marabou Storks (read: huge ugly vultures). They nest in trees near garbage sites and are considered pests.

My colleagues think it’s so funny that I’m obsessed with these Marabou Storks (read: huge ugly vultures). They nest in trees near garbage sites and are considered pests.

 Kenya might be a different place than it was when I was growing up, but so far, my experience has been just as warm and fuzzy — better, even, because this time I’m stepping outside my gated and protected comfort zone.
In between legal research, I’ve been tasked with capturing the team’s portraits for ICJ’s website revamp! Here’s mine!

In between legal research, I’ve been tasked with capturing the team’s portraits for ICJ’s website revamp! Here’s mine!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Interns @ Alaska – Update from Brianna and Gabrielle and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council

Seward, AK

“I guess the view is okay.” Seward, AK

Brianna Meyer (author) and Gabrielle Lupien are completing their CLA-ACE internship in Anchorage, AK. 

I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska a few weeks ago with a single severely overweight suitcase thanks largely in part to aboriginal and property law textbooks. I have since purchased even more books (and also hiking gear) and have quickly realized that not only am I inside the legal system of a new country – but that I am inside a state with a legal context distinct from its lower 48 counterparts.

Luckily, I am not facing this challenging discourse alone – Gabrielle, my fellow intern and roommate from Montreal joins me in the YRITWC office.

Here are a few updates on what we are diving into this month:

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act [1971] abolished aboriginal title and set up village and regional corporations to hold Alaskan Native land. The idea of a corporation owning land on behalf of a tribe seems entirely foreign to me – and likely was equally foreign to the Alaskan Natives upon which this system was applied. Our first few weeks here were spent trying to digest this unique history – but it may take a few years (or a lifetime) to truly understand the scope of its implications for Alaskan Natives in the past and present.

Working at the YRITWC has allowed us to engage with this challenging material in a few ways. We are currently working on a research paper that digs into the benefits and implications of holding lands in trust for Alaskan Natives. This is the subject of active litigation in the US. Stay tuned for hopefully some breakthroughs in the near future.

We are also preparing for the Summit at the end of July. This event is a gathering of the 72 tribal and First Nation governments that have signed on to Yukon River Watershed Plan. We are actively trying to facilitate the adoption of ordinances that will serve as a platform for these governments to assert their sovereignty in the management of water quality along the Yukon River.

Not a bad backyard for the summer. Exit Glacier, Seward, AK

Not a bad backyard for the summer. Exit Glacier, Seward, AK

Some fun things have been happening outside the office as well:

Last week we attended the 35th Anniversary celebrations for the Alaskan Conservation Foundation with coworkers and met some of the dedicated faces behind Alaska’s protected wild areas.

This week we were lucky enough to attend the World Wildlife Fund’s presentation of Conservation and Change in the Arctic Ocean at the Anchorage Museum.

It was a fabulous meeting of scientists, legal scholars, economists and apparently CLA interns discussing the past successes and future challenges facing WWF in its Arctic projects.

Gabrielle [left] and myself at the Alaska Conservation Foundation 35th Anniversary celebration. Besides hitting the books (and realizing how much we need to learn) we have also been hitting the trails, mountains and beaches across Alaska.

Gabrielle [left] and myself at the Alaska Conservation Foundation 35th Anniversary celebration.
Besides hitting the books (and realizing how much we need to learn) we have also been hitting the trails, mountains and beaches across Alaska.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CLA’s Student Chapter Program: The End of Another Great Year

Another year has come to pass for CLA’s Student Chapter Program, and we couldn’t be more proud of our network of law students and their efforts to use law to improve lives. It’s been an amazing year!

We were delighted to see the Chapters embrace this year’s theme – Refugee Rights, by holding various thought-provoking and high-profile events throughout the academic year. Our Chapters also made significant efforts towards fundraising for CLA’s Summer Internship Program, which will assist students in obtaining human rights advocacy experience overseas or with Aboriginal organizations in Canada.


The Chapters were actively involved in fundraising initiatives such as bake sales, trivia nights, documentary screenings, cocktails, pub quiz nights and raffles.  The University of Saskatchewan Chapter and the University of Ottawa Chapter  participated in the “Assassins” Game, which was great fun for the students involved and was a huge success in  raising money for our student interns.

University of Ottawa Chapter

University of Ottawa Chapter


Our newly established Chapter at the University of Western (UWO), organized its very first CLA event with a Refugee Rights Panel. This event included Peter Buza- UWO law grad who worked for the UNHCR in refugee resettlement and Lev Abramovich, a Refugee Law Practitioner with Levine and Associates.

Dalhousie University Pub Night

Dalhousie University Pub Night


Students left with real insight into the problems refugees face in today’s world and were given information about the important role for lawyers working on refugee issues both domestically and internationally. The UWO Chapter left satisfied from the success of their first event and excited for the Chapter’s continued growth and involvement with the Western Law population.


Queens University Chapter Bake Sale

Queens University Chapter Bake Sale


The University of Saskatchewan Chapter had a successful event with Dabid Matas, an internationally renowned refugee lawyer who worked with the UN and Haidah Amirzadeh,  an immigration professor at the U of S who was also a refugee herself. The insights from the speakers had a profound impact on the students that attended.


The Queens University Chapter had great attendance for their Refugee Rights Panel featuring Sherry Aiken, the former president for the Canadian Council for Refugees, Micheal Bossin, experienced practitioner and community legal services lawyer, and Nicole Laviolette, LGBT Refugee Rights expert from the University of Ottawa.

The University of Manitoba Chapter provided a documentary pizza luncheon for the students.  The documentary was called Last Chance and it told the story of five asylum seekers that have fled their home countries to escape homophobic violence. It captured the hurdles that they faced while integrating into Canada, their fear and anxiety of deportation all the while waiting for a decision that could change their lives. Many students were interested in the documentary and were fascinated by the process in Canada. This film was also screened by the University of Victoria Chapter  and was successful as the event was very well attended.

UBC Chapter and Panelist

UBC Chapter and Panelist

Our University of British Columbia Chapter  organized a speakers panel with CARL (Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers) on the topic of  Government Cuts to Refugee Health Care. The three speakers invited were Lobat Sadrehashemi, a staff lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC); Aris Daghighian, an immigration, refugee, and criminal lawyer with Edelmann & Company; and Professor Efrat Arbel from Peter A. Allard School of Law, who has an extensive background in refugee law.  All three speakers discussed the ongoing Charter challenge in Doctors for Refugee Care v Canada.

They also organized a second panel on  the topic of Human Trafficking in Canada. The panelists included: Victor Porter from the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Theressa Etmanski, from the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association. The speakers outlined some of the challenges victims face in obtaining temporary workers’ permits, especially with regard to gathering evidence of trafficking that occurs primarily in private and domestic spheres.

The turnout from the student body was impressive for our events, with a packed room full of attentive faces hanging on to the speakers’ every word. CLA thanks the panelists for taking their time to speak about this issue of refugee law and thanks all the participants who attended for all of our chapters!

Journal Entries                      

Throughout this year, the UdeM Chapter has been working with other CLA Chapters to publish CLA’s National Student Journal on the topic of Refugee Rights. The journal contains thought-provoking articles on very interesting and topical issues that refugees are faced with today. Topics include, Christian Refugees impacted by the ISIS threat, Canada’s response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and Child Soldiers seeking refuge in Canada.

Aeroplan Campaign

CLA would also like to thank all of the CLA Chapters for raising awareness about the campaign and donors for your generous support. We successfully hit our goal! We are also grateful to Aeroplan for matching 10% of our donations.

We wish all the best to our Student Chapter members and incoming Student Interns over the Summer. We hope you all have a great break and come back in Fall ready to hit the ground running for another great year with CLA!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CLA-ACE Launches Aeroplan Matching Campaign!

From Tuesday March 3rd to Tuesday March 31st Aeroplan will match 10% of donations if we reach 90% of our fundraising goal of 50,000 points.

Please visit our Charitable Pooling Page to make your donation!

Why donate? CLA-ACE is a catalyst for positive social change. Through education and engagement we are increasing access to justice for marginalized populations worldwide, and enabling law students and lawyers to use their legal training to make a difference.

Our important work requires significant travel both within Canada and overseas. This opportunity to offset our travel costs will enable CLA-ACE to use our limited resources to directly benefit the people and communities we serve.

In other words, your Aeroplan Miles contribution will have a significant impact on CLA-ACE’s ability to achieve its mission of using law to improve lives.

Dare to Dream Program

When you donate your Aeroplan Miles to CLA-ACE, you will directly benefit First Nation, Métis, and Inuit youth throughout Canada!

CBA National Magazine - Karen and Students

CLA-ACE’s newest program, Dare to Dream, positively transforms the way First Nation, Métis, and Inuit youth aged 11-14 perceive and engage with the justice system through meaningful interaction with legal professionals and fun, justice-focused learning activities.

This program is now in operation in Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Calgary and the Siksika Nation. Check out this clip to learn more about this unique program:

Dare to Dream has continued to garner widespread support and media interest. For example, we have recently been featured on CBC Aboriginal, Global SaskatoonCTV Saskatoon, Radio Canada International, and in the Toronto Star. To read endorsements for Dare to Dream by various Canadian leaders, click here.

Summer Internship Program

Every year CLA-ACE partners with amazing organizations both in Canada and abroad to provide law students at 15 universities across Canada with beyond the classroom social justice learning opportunities.

This year we have new internship opportunities with the Legal Assistance Centre (Namibia), the Center for Justice and International Law (DC), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, the Global Alliance  Against Traffic in Women (Thailand) and the Yukon Conservation Society.

We will also have interns returning to the Federation of Women Lawyers-KenyaBeyond Borders (Ontario), Avocats Sans Frontiers (Quebec), Centre for Democratic Development-GhanaMikisew Cree First Nation (Fort McMurray), Yukon River Intertribal Watershed CouncilInternational Commission of Jurists-Kenya, and the Chiefs of Ontario.

Here’s what former interns had to say about their experience:

“…..My daily work has focused on constitutional issues, training of ICJ’s paralegals and security sector reforms. The 2010 Constitution brought a lot of change, much of which is still being debated in the courts and in the public sphere. I have been fortunate to attend a number of constitutional conferences working with local judiciary and academics.”-Craig Mracek

“….. I worked on a consolidated report that is based on the progress and challenges of PMOs within four regions in sub-Saharan Africa. These projects were remarkable because of their content and because the issues being explored are alive and apparent in the street corners and government buildings which I pass by each day.”-Filippo Titi

Student Research, Education & Engagement

CLA-ACE has Student Chapters in 15 law schools across Canada. These Chapters bring together law students who have an interest in participating in good governance, rule of law and human rights issues. Each fall, CLA-ACE hosts a national conference on a chosen theme.

In October 2014, Student Chapter representatives from across Canada travelled to Ottawa for our conference on “Access to Justice for Refugees”.


Our students heard from an impressive list of speakers such as, Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International, Arghavan Gerami, Managing Director of Gerami Law Corporation and Professor Jennifer Bond and Professor LaViolette from the University of Ottawa. Here’s what CLA representatives had to say about the conference:

Jeneba Stewart (University of Calgary) 

“The CLA Conference was a great opportunity to engage in a dialogue about furthering the participation and involvement of CLA in Law Schools across the country. I was able to learn a lot about Refugee Rights, even over the short duration of the conference, and I look forward to using this knowledge to motivate the CLA chapter here at the University of Calgary.”

Ermina Delalic (University of Manitoba) 

“The Refugee Rights Conference has given me the opportunity to think critically and to remind those around us about the ongoing struggle of millions of refugees around the world. It has reminded me that the issues facing the displaced millions are our issues.”

Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International addressing CLA Chapter Representatives

Student Chapters engage in various events during the academic year such as speakers panels, movie nights and other fundraising initiatives. Together with the Université de Montréal Chapter, CLA-ACE publishes an annual bilingual journal called “Perspectives Légales Internationale – International Legal Perspectives” which includes thought-provoking entries from our students.

Please don’t forget to donate between March 3rd and 31st!  Visit our Charitable Pooling Page to make your donation today. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2015 CLA Internship Application Guide

“Being able to write about and analyze international law was a unique opportunity for me, and gave me interesting insight into the legal framework of Canada as well.”              Vivian Tran, 2014 CLA Intern

For 2015, CLA will continue partnerships with the following amazing human rights organizations: 

The Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya in Nairobi, is the oldest women’s rights organization in Eastern Africa, and has carved a niche as a fearless defender of women’s rights at the international, national and local level.

Beyond Borders in Ottawa is a national, bilingual, volunteer organization advancing the rights of children everywhere to be free from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Avocats Sans Frontiers in Quebec City is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to uphold the defence of human rights of vulnerable groups or individuals through the reinforcement of access to justice and legal representation.

Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana in Accra is dedicated to the promotion of democracy, good governance and the development of a liberal political and economic environment in Ghana in particular and Africa in general.

Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort McMurray serves an important advocacy role on behalf of the members’ treaty rights and entitlements, and an environmental stewardship role in protection of the lands and resources owned by the membership.

Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council in Alaska works to restore the Yukon River watershed and to protect it from further contamination for the health and wellbeing of the community.

Yukon Human Rights Commission in Whitehorse is a statutory agency whose mandate is to promote the principle that every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights.

International Commission of Jurists-Kenya in Nairobi is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Kenya.

Chiefs of Ontario in Toronto is a political forum and secretariat established as a coordinating body to assist 133 First Nations in Ontario in advancing their rights through advocacy, lobbying, collective decision-making, and action.

NEW CLA internship partnerships include:

The Legal Assistance Centre in Namibia works to “collectively strive to make the law accessible to those with the least access, through education, law reform, research, litigation, legal advice, representation and lobbying, with the ultimate aim of creating and maintaining a human rights culture in Namibia.”

The Center for Justice and International Law in Washington, DC is one of the leading organizations working to protect and promote human rights in the Americas due to the use of creative and comprehensive intervention strategies.

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in Dhaka provides advice, mediation and litigation services across a range of areas, including civil, criminal, family, labour and land law, as well as on constitutional rights and remedies.

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women in Bangkok is committed to work for change in the political, economic, social and legal systems and structures that contribute to the persistence of trafficking in persons and other human rights violations.

The Yukon Conservation Society in Whitehorse has a mandate is to pursue ecosystem well-being throughout the Yukon and beyond, recognizing that human well-being is ultimately dependent upon fully functioning healthy ecosystems.

“The highlight of my internship was getting to know a completely different landscape: legally, politically, historically, and geographically.” -Dana Martin, 2013 CLA Intern

You can learn more about students’ experiences in Canada and abroad by checking out our ‘Reflections from the Field’ document.


General Advice                                                                                                                     

  • Start early. Previous interns have asked us to remind you not to leave your application to the last minute! The application requires thought and effort.
  • Be specific. Answer the questions that are asked. Describe your experience in a clear and concise manner. 
  • Be careful. Sloppiness in the form of typographical errors, grammar mistakes, and incomplete applications are some of the first impressions that are considered when we eliminate candidates. Proofread your application before submitting it! 
  • Be concise. The application form is limited in space and word count. Respect these requirements.
  • Be professional. This is not the place for casual or colloquial writing.
  • Ideal candidates have a demonstrated interest in international human rights, good governance and rule of law issues, a respect for diversity, and an ability to perform in new and often challenging environments. They are flexible, understand the importance of cultural awareness, and have a strong work ethic. Previous overseas experience is preferred but is not required. Note that your previous volunteer work may be more relevant to this application than formal work experience.

Some of the criteria that we consider when selecting candidates includes:

    • Previous volunteer or work experience in Canada or abroad
    • Demonstrated interest in human rights, good governance and the rule of law
    • Relevant educational and work background
    • Strong communication skills
    • Strong legal research skills
    • Self-sufficient and self-motivated
    • Problem-solving skills and demonstrated ability to work with limited resources
    • Respectful, highly adaptable, and open to change

Specific Pointers                                                                                                                 1. Section: Application Details, Personal Information, Education, Languages

In this section, list the details of your application as indicated on the form. Take care to ensure we have accurate information, especially with regards to your phone number and email address. That is how we will reach you if you are short-listed for a telephone interview

2. Section: Relevant Employment and/or Extracurricular Background

You are limited to three employment and/or extracurricular activities you believe will most accurately demonstrate your experience, so choose wisely! Volunteer experience can be more valuable than unrelated paid employment.

Under “key responsibilities,” try and think of what your internship might entail, and draw on your previous experience to show us how you can transfer your skills.

Example: If you were a research assistant to a professor working on international issues, highlight your research skills, ability to identify key information, synthesize this information, and present it well. The resources available to you at some of our host organizations will not be the same as those you have access to in Canada. Demonstrate that your research skills will transfer to situations where the resources might be reduced.

Under “reason for change”, if the position was short-term or ended because it was a set contract, just write that. Don’t get too wordy where you don’t need to be

3. Section: Experience and Qualifications

This is your opportunity to show us what you’re made of. Read the question and make sure you’ve answered it. These questions are where you need to distinguish yourself from your peers.

Q1:      Indicate your interest in the rule of law, good governance, and human rights. Describe where your interest stems from, as well as any experience you may have had in these areas.

Are you interested in a career in the areas of rule of law, good governance and human rights? Describe how the experience of an internship might relate to your professional and personal goals. Is there a specific issue or subject that you are passionate about?

Q2:      Have you ever lived and/or worked in a developing country? If yes, explain your experience.

Note: If you have only travelled for pleasure, refer to that if it is relevant. Just be sure to explain how your travel experiences have lead to your understanding of different cultures and ability to thrive in a challenging environment.

Q3.      Describe a situation where, in the face of challenging circumstances, you demonstrated cultural sensitivity, initiative, flexibility, and adaptability.

Internships often present challenging situations due to a variety of factors, such as being in a new, sometimes isolated, environment with different customs, and being far from home and family. Show us that you can cope with such situations if they arise by demonstrating your initiative, your flexibility, your adaptability, and cultural awareness.

Q4.      What will you contribute to the organization that will be hosting the internship? 

What skills can you share? What are your strengths? Is there a particular skill you are working on refining? Be sure to communicate your skill set to us.


CLA requires that you seek out and apply for funding opportunities early! Please note that there is now a question on the application form that specifically asks whether you have applied for bursaries from your respective law school – so start thinking about funding opportunities now! 

We can confirm that the following law schools have either social justice funding opportunities or can offer academic credit to students participating in CLA internships:

University of British Columbia Law: there are public interest bursaries available for successful candidates

University of Saskatchewan Law: students may apply to the Associate Dean Academic’s office for financial support

Windsor Law: there is a Social Justice Fellowship Program that offers up to $5000 dollars to successful candidates. There may be a possibility of applying for academic credit.

University of Victoria Law: there are funding opportunities available. Please visit: for more information.

University of Ottawa Law: students may apply for social justice and public interest awards that are up to $5000 before securing an internship position with CLA. It is possible to apply for academic credit for CLA internship positions.

University of Alberta Law: there are multiple awards available to students interested in pursuing social justice positions. 

University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law: students may apply for public interest/social justice funding. UNB also has a mechanism to grant academic credit for legal internships with social justice/public interest organizations. 

REMEMBER: Applications must be submitted by 11:59pm January 30th, 2015

Best of luck!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment