The Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinic simultaneously helps train the next generation of social justice-oriented environmental lawyers while working with non-governmental groups, communities, municipalities, First Nations and law offices to advance environmental justice and sustainability in Canada.
The pursuit of environmental justice mobilizes environmental, civil rights, anti-racist, anti-poverty, aboriginal rights and gender equality movements to challenge the unequal distribution of environmental burdens and benefits in society. Sustainability involves the simultaneous pursuit of ecological integrity, social equity and economic prosperity within the biophysical constraints of local and planetary ecosystems.
Our dual focus on remedying environmental injustice and promoting sustainability makes us unique among law school clinical programs in Canada.
This mandate encompasses a broad range of subjects including biodiversity, energy, water, food, climate change, pollution, resource extraction, land use planning, human rights, green technology, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, toxic torts, and regulatory compliance. The files we work on can be local, provincial, national or even international in scope. Within this broad scope, we choose files for their likely lasting positive impact on environmental justice and sustainability.
We do a variety of legal work including litigation before courts and tribunals, complaints to environmental watchdogs, law reform proposals, legislative drafting, freedom of information requests, community legal organizing, legal advice regarding sustainable or social enterprise, and public legal education.
We partner with lawyers across Canada who work in the public interest to advance environmental justice and sustainability. Our partners include environmental law non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and legal aid clinics; in-house or external counsel to environmental or human rights groups, municipal governments, First Nations, or social enterprises; and lawyers in private practice who engage in public interest-oriented legal work on a pro-bono or reduced-fee basis.
We help these public interest-oriented lawyers and law offices to leverage their limited resources and enhance their positive impacts on environmental justice and sustainability by enlisting the help of capable, motivated JD students who work under the supervision of the external lawyer(s) and Osgoode law professors.
In the process, the students gain invaluable exposure to the theory and practice of public interest environmental law.
Our experiential education program is part of the Osgoode Hall Law School JD program. In this two-term, 15-credit clinical program, Osgoode JD students explore the theory and practice of public interest environmental law by working on Clinic files. We use a "virtual placement" model: the students are placed virtually with lawyers and organizations located across the country, but conduct their work at Osgoode. This model allows students to build contacts and relationships well beyond the Toronto area, where Osgoode is located. In addition to their clinical file work (9 credits), students attend an academic seminar (3 credits) and complete a research paper or project (3 credits) that complements but does not duplicate their clinical work. To maximize the public benefit of our work, students' research projects are publicized on our blog in a way that does not compromise the confidentiality of the clinical files.
If you are interested in more information about our clinical program, click on the For students tab near the top of this page.
We do not have a public storefront. We select files via proposals from external legal service organizations or on our own initiative. We issue calls for proposals periodically, usually in early summer in preparation for the following academic year.
If you are interested proposing a file for us to take on, click on the Contact Us tab above.
The Clinic is a not-for-profit undertaking. We rely on donations to survive.
If you are interested in supporting our work financially, click on the Donate tab above.