Advocating in the community interest

Law

- Mitch Wright

More than 35 years after it began operating in the downtown core, the UVic Law Centre continues to improve access to justice in the community, moving to shared space with the new Victoria Justice Access Centre in the Victoria courthouse late last month.

Construction of the $1.5-million space in the former land titles office at 850 Burdett was completed earlier this fall and officially opened Oct. 24. Co-location of the Law Centre and the Justice Access Centre, the third of its kind in BC, will provide a central place for people with legal problems to get help.

The Law Centre, operated by the Faculty of Law, provides legal advice, assistance and representation to clients who cannot afford a lawyer. Law students work at the centre—more than one-third of law students serve a full term there—under the supervision of law professor Glenn Gallins, Steve Perks, and with the assistance of other local lawyers.

“The Law Centre emphasizes both the university’s and the faculty of law’s commitment to experiential learning and to community contribution,” says Jeremy Webber, dean of UVic’s faculty of law. “The centre fulfills a very real need at a time when paid legal services are beyond the reach of beyond the reach of many Canadian citizens.”

The Law Centre helps almost 2,000 clients annually withcriminal matters, divorce and other family law matters, human rights complaints and civil disputes. It represents clients in hearings before administrative tribunals dealing with matters such as employment insurance, welfare, landlord and tenant disputes, and the Canada Pension Plan. More than 1,400 students have participated in the program.

“UVic Law has far and away the most extensive engagement in experiential learning of any law school in Canada,” says Webber, noting the faculty’s very active Environmental and Business Law Clinics, its vigorous co-op program, and volunteer placements, in addition to the Law Centre.

For his many contributions, especially through the Law Centre, Glenn Gallins, the centre’s longtime director, will receive the Georges A. Goyer, QC Memorial Award for Distinguished Service this year, the highest honour from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch.

In this story

Keywords: Law Centre, human rights, community

People: Glenn Gallins, Steve Perks, Jeremy Webber


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