Environmental Law Centre clinic

A Whale Breaches Off the Coast of Vancouver Island
A whale breaches off the coast of Vancouver Island

The Environmental Law Centre (ELC) Society is a non-profit society that operates the ELC Clinic. Home of Canada’s first environmental law clinical program, the ELC attracts some of the country’s best and brightest aspiring public interest environmental lawyers.

For almost two decades, the ELC has worked for community groups, conservation organizations and First Nations across British Columbia building legal capacity to tackle today’s complex environmental challenges. The ELC is a strong advocate for environmental law reform, provides vigorous representation to clients before courts and tribunals, and is actively engaged in public legal education and outreach on environmental issues.

Today’s ELC students are tomorrow’s lawyers for the environment.

The founding executive director of the ELC is professor Chris Tollefson. Its legal staff includes some of BC’s top public interest environmental lawyers including professors Calvin Sandborn, Deborah Curran and Mark Haddock. They are supported by ELC paralegal administrator Holly Pattison and a full-time articling student.

Recent cases and projects include:

  • representing BC Nature and Nature Canada in the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings
  • representing the ELC and Ecojustice as intervenors in the Supreme Court of Canada  
  • publishing "Maintaining Natural BC for Our Children: Selected Law Reform Proposals," a comprehensive book on environmental law reform in British Columbia 
  • providing representation and advice to a diverse range of community and First Nations organizations on environmental issues 
  • representing Democracy Watch in a high profile submission to the federal information and privacy commissioner concerning the 'muzzling' of federal scientists that led to a formal investigation that is currently underway 
  • creating and managing a province-wide network of practitioners across BC that provide legal services to public interest clients under the auspices of ELC Associates and Fellows program 
  • in partnership with the Faculty of Law, launching Canada’s first intensive clinical program in public interest environmental law and, more recently, an academic specialization in Environmental Law and Sustainability

Course description: LAW 353 Environmental Law Centre Clinic