Social justice (or public interest) law is perhaps best described as legal work carried out on behalf of individuals, communities and causes that are underrepresented by the for-profit bar. Social justice legal practices can include: legal clinics; public interest advocacy groups; private practice firms and lawyers who define a major portion of their client base as public interest; or social justice causes (i.e. those practicing union-side labour law, refugee and immigration law, and criminal defense); boards, agencies, commissions and in-house counsel, and; all levels of government. The work can be local, national or international in nature.
Students interested in a career path in social justice should note that there are many opportunities with employers who do not necessarily actively recruit students and should be prepared to actively pursue their interests. It is important to demonstrate a history of working in the public interest sphere by being involved with organizations and student groups both in a volunteer and non-volunteer capacity. Invaluable information can be gained from various public interest websites, and please visit the Career Office for information and resources.
SPINLAW Conference and PID: SPINLAW (Student Public Interest Network Legal Action Workshop) is an annual law conference organized by students from University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, which aims to raise awareness and generate discussion about public interest issues. The conference brings together students, local activists, lawyers and members of the community to participate in workshops, hear speakers, network and engage in discussion on important issues of legal and social significance.
This is usually held in conjunction with Public Interest Day (PID) which is coordinated by the Career Services staff at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and the University of Toronto.
In an effort to increase awareness of the opportunities for law school graduates committed to social justice, Public Interest Day is planned to give students access to information on legal aid clinics, community-based associations, non-governmental organizations, government offices, and firms that have made a commitment to public interest work.
These events usually occur in the beginning of March and information can be gained on their respective websites. Law students from the University of Saskatchewan have attended several SPINLAW / PID conferences and often travel bursaries are available.
PID and SPINLAW INVITE 2014