Outside the classroom

A day in the life

Outside the classroom

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Learn the nuts-and-bolts skills of interviewing, counselling, negotiating, and trial advocacy.

The Dalhousie Legal Aid Clinic

Have you ever wondered how a theory of the case is developed? What actually goes into preparing a direct and cross examination? Or how you get information from a client—especially an unwilling one?

If you’re looking for answers to these questions and more—as well as a chance to gain valuable hands-on experience in the practice of law—then an internship at the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service (“the clinic”) is the opportunity for you.

Each term—summer, fall, and spring—12 to 16 third-year law students take "the clinic" as a 13-credit course towards their law degree. As a student in the clinic, you’ll represent about 10 clients under the supervision of the clinic’s professional staff. You’ll also participate in assigned community work.

The structured, experiential learning environment at the clinic allows you to learn and practice lawyering skills in a community law office located in north-end Halifax. Emphasis is placed on skills training, independence, and self-reliance. You’ll be given the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge that isn’t part of the traditional law school education.

Through working with actual clients, considering the complex facts of a situation, and finding or creating solutions to problems, you’ll be provided with a context that enables you to understand and reflect on the role and responsibility of a lawyer in society.

It’s true: you get to be just like a real lawyer, doing the things a lawyer does—and be a member of the provincial Barristers’ Society as an articled clerk while you’re doing it. In addition to the nuts-and-bolts skills of interviewing, counselling, negotiating, and trial advocacy, you’ll also have opportunities to learn about

  • the basics of running a practice;
  • tickler systems (the process of ensuring trial-related deadlines are kept);
  • file management;
  • ethical considerations such as conflicts and confidentiality; and
  • the interpersonal aspects of lawyering.

In addition to the formal seminar and skills-training program, you’ll be required to submit a paper. The program is worth 13 credits toward your law degree; your performance is rated pass/fail/honours.

Find out more about an internship at the Dal Legal Aid clinic.

Giving back to the community

A life's work at the Dal Legal Aid Service
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Shawna Hoyte, Dal alumna and recent appointee as Queen's Counsel (Nova Scotia), did an internship at the Dal Legal Aid clinic during her last semester of law school in the 1990s. She was offered a position as staff lawyer before she was called to the bar—and she hasn't looked back. Find out why Ms. Hoyte was drawn to do an internship there, and why she stayed.

"Dalhousie Legal Aid was the right choice for me. It's been a blessing and I've had much success."


A solid foundation for Dal Legal Aid
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In his two-and-half-years of law school—writing mock memos, mock briefs and reading numerous law cases—nothing had truly prepared aspiring lawyer Tom Wallwork to sit opposite a real flesh-and-blood person and ask, “How can I help you?” Get a student's perspective on doing an internship at Dal Legal Aid Service.

"You read hundreds of cases with names on them, but never once do you give a thought to who they really are as people.”