Student Legal Services.

AuthorMcFadyen, Sarah
PositionFeatured Back to School

Celebrating 50 Years of Providing Access to Justice in Edmonton and Area

From September to June of each year, over two hundred and fifty law students at the University of Alberta provide free legal information and assistance to low-income individuals in Edmonton and area. These students volunteer as caseworkers and project coordinators with Student Legal Services (SLS). During the summer, SLS operates with twenty-one caseworkers and seven project coordinators. The organization has been operating since 1969 and celebrated its 50th anniversary this past summer. To celebrate, in typical SLS fashion, SLS is expanding its reach to assist even more low-income individuals, both in terms of location and areas of law.

50 Years of Service

Student Legal Services is a not-for-profit organization run by law students at the University of Alberta. SLS was established to help fill the gap in the Edmonton justice system by providing the low-income community with free legal information and assistance. The organization was created in the summer of 1969 by fourteen law students who had a passion for access to justice and who were inspired by the student legal clinics emerging across Canada and the U.S.A. At that time, the students did not have an office space, so they purchased a school bus painted in psychedelic colours and used it as their office. The students drove around the city providing the low-income community with legal information and assistance in true hippie fashion.

During the early years, the law students assisted individuals with a variety of matters ranging from criminal charges to welfare disputes and tenancy problems. Since then, the organization has continually evolved and expanded (and has seen its fair share of office spaces).

Today, Student Legal Services has two offices: East Campus House (at the University of Alberta) and Corona Office (in downtown Edmonton). SLS runs five projects:

  1. The Criminal Law Project provides legal assistance and representation to individuals charged with a summary offence in Provincial Court who do not qualify for Legal Aid. Each year, the project handles upwards of 1000 criminal files.

  2. The Civil Law Project assists individuals in Provincial Court and before several administrative tribunals with matters including landlord tenant issues, Workers' Compensation Board appeals, employment disputes, Employment Insurance appeals, contract disputes and general civil claims.

  3. The Family Law Project assists...

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