News / London

Western University law students offer a helping hand

Legal issues can have a profound impact on someone's life, and without proper guidance, can change it for the worse.

A team of law students at Western’s Community Legal Services clinic is working to help minimize the chance of that happening.

CLS provides free advice and services for both Western students and those in the London area that cannot afford legal representation. Under the guidance of trained lawyers, law students take their knowledge from the classroom out into the real world.

Cassandra Ball, a third-year law student at Western, works as a supervisor for casework done at CLS and said being able to expand beyond the campus setting has been crucial to her education.

“A lot of students, we sometimes feel kind of like in a bubble,” she said. “You can easily just stick within the Western bubble and not really interact with the community at all.”

By doing so, they hope to try and do their part to minimize the gap between those with and without legal aid.

Doug Ferguson, director of CLS, said accessing legal representation is a serious issue in Canada. Many are forced to navigate the complexities of the justice system alone.

“Bad things can happen if you don’t have somebody there to help you, who knows how things work,” he said.

For Ball, it’s one thing to read a textbook and take a class on how the justice system works, but it’s quite another to put that knowledge into practice in a real-world setting.

“Coming into law school your first year can be really intimidating," she said. "There is a lot of reading, and it's very abstract, and it's kind of hard to see how it all fits in together.

“But when you come here, you actually get exposure to real clients, and you get to see what problems the community is facing.”

At a glance

  • Located in Room 126 at the Faculty of Law at Western University

  • Made up of volunteers and students earning course credits

  • Deals with legal matters such as criminal law, landlord and tenant disputes, small claims court, estate law, intellectual property and academic appeals

  • Does not accept new clients between semesters and during exam periods, but is open full time in the summer

  • Phone 519-661-3352 or email clsinfo@uwo.ca to book an appointment

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