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About Dalhousie Legal Aid


Dalhousie Legal Aid Service is a community-based office in the north-central neighbourhood of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It also is a clinical program for law students and is operated by the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. Our funding is provided by the Schulich School of Law, the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission, the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia and clinic alumni, friends of Dalhousie Legal Aid Service and special events.

Dalhousie Legal Aid Service has been in operation since 1970, when it began as a summer project out of the former Halifax Neighbourhood Centre. It was the first legal Service for low income communities in Nova Scotia and is the oldest clinical law program in Canada. In fact, it is the only community law clinic in Nova Scotia. The Clinic is a unique partnership of community groups, law students, community legal workers and lawyers working together.

In addition, Dalhousie Legal Aid Service does community outreach, education, organizing, lobbying and test case litigation to combat injustices affecting persons with low incomes in Nova Scotia. Community groups and community based agencies with mandates to fight poverty and injustice may apply for legal advice, assistance, and community development and education services. The Service offers advocacy workshops and legal information sessions, and works with other groups to lobby the government on social assistance policy and other policies negatively affecting persons with low incomes.

Mandate

Dalhousie Legal Aid has a three-part mandate:

  1. to provide legal aid services for persons who would not otherwise be able to obtain legal advice for assistance;
  2. to conduct research, provide information, make recommendations, and engage in programs relating to legal aid and law reform in the Province of Nova Scotia;
  3. to provide an educational experience in the solution of legal problems for students enrolled in the Faculty of Law of Dalhousie University who participate in the work of the service.  

Constitution and Board of Trustees

Dalhousie Legal Aid was constituted as a Trust [PDF - 29 kB] between the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society and Dalhousie Law School in 1970.

A set of ByLaws [PDF - 22 kB] was added in 1977 by Faculty Council which established a Board of Trustees [PDF - 55 kB] composed of nine community members and nine legal members.The community members are elected/appointed each year at the annual meeting. The legal members are appointed as follows: the executive director, faculty lawyer and one more faculty person are appointed by Faculty Council; two practising lawyers are appointed by Faculty Council; the Director or Designate of Nova Scotia Legal Aid; two law students elected by clinic students; one law student appointed by the Law Student Society.  If you are interested in becoming a Board Member, please download our Application Form [PDF - 42 kB].

Staff and students

Dalhousie Legal Aid has a professional staff of a director who is a member of Schulich School of Law faculty; five staff lawyers and two community legal workers. An office manager and thee legal assistants make up the support staff. All staff are employees of Dalhousie University.

Each term – summer, fall and spring – 12 to 16 third-year law students participate in the clinic as a 13-credit course towards their law degree. They each represent about 10 clients under the supervision of the professional staff and they also participate in assigned community work.

Funding

Operational Funding for DLAS comes from through three separate sources: The Schulich School of Law; A grant from The Law Foundation of Nova Scotia; and certificate revenue as well as a grant for our poverty law work through Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

We also receive funding through endownments including The Pink Youth and The Law endowment specifically for our work with youth; The W.S.C. MacDonald Endowment to replenish our library.

Donations and fundraising are the other source of income for DLAS. We appreciate all donations big and small as well as attendance at our fundraising events. These funds help to keep projects that include publications such as our Tenant Rights and Welfare Rights Guides replenished as well as providing funding for special items like replacing computers or worn out furniture.