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Annual Report 2017

Law students learn on the frontlines

Michael Marin

Students in UNB’s law faculty are gaining vital hands-on experience through a new clinical law course where they are providing legal assistance and advice on the frontlines.

Second and third year students are breaking out of the lecture hall and serving clients who often cannot afford to hire a lawyer. In the process, they are learning what it means to be a lawyer in a very real way.

“It gives them hands-on professional experience – experience they don’t get by just attending lectures in the classroom. It’s no longer just the theory and rules but how to implement them,” says Michael Marin, an assistant professor of law at UNB who introduced the clinical course in the winter of 2016.

Promoting access to justice

For full-course credit, the students are serving clients through six partner organizations – the New Brunswick Legal Aid Commission, UNB’s own Fredericton Downtown Community Health Centre, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, the Fredericton Legal Advice Clinic, the New Brunswick Public Education and Information Service and the Youth Criminal Justice & Outreach program.

Through this work, students gain practical law-related experience while promoting access to justice. Through the placements, the students are supporting pro bono and public interest initiatives by, as appropriate, providing legal information and advice under the mentorship and supervision of a practising lawyer.

Rounded law graduates

The students in the course are also benefitting from practice-oriented instruction coordinated by faculty, learning in a practical way about areas such as professional responsibility, practice management, client communication, as well as topics relevant to their placements.

“All of this is going to make them more rounded law graduates. They will certainly have some advantage on the job market,” Mr. Marin says. “They will have a better sense of their own professional identity – so what kind of law graduate they would like to be, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how to develop strategies for becoming a better professional.”