Since the CRRF presented Osgoode Hall Law School and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre the Award of Excellence for the Anti-Discrimination Intensive Program (ADIP) in 2012, almost 50 more students have completed the program and graduated from law school. Many of them have gone on to practice, representing workers, managers, companies, public interest organizations, government and more.
Njeri Campbell accepted the award from the CRRF in 2012. Today, she is an associate at a leading labour and employment law firm in Toronto and says this about the Program:
“Students need to see law in action in order to prepare for legal practise. Casebooks are not enough to understand the impact of law on real people. This is especially true for social justice oriented law students who seek to change society through legal advocacy. At ADIP, I observed and was mentored by exceptional lawyers and legal practitioners who shape human rights law in Ontario. I regularly draw from the knowledge and skills I gained during my time at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. I am a better lawyer because of it.”
Now in its fifth year, ADIP is an integral part of the work produced at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. Six students are placed at the Centre in each term. They receive intensive training in anti-discrimination law, administrative law, trial practice, as well as dispute resolution techniques. Each student is paired with a mentoring lawyer, who serves as a source of information, instruction, support and evaluation.
It’s an intense and hands-on experience for students, but their presence creates an invigorating and positive energy for the staff at the Centre. The Centre gets about 25,000 telephone enquiries each year. Students handle a significant amount of the frontline work, providing advice and referrals to individuals with claims. The students’ thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm for the job helps liven up the workplace and can raise the spirits of staff dealing with challenging subject matter all day. The students’ critical questions and keen observations help the staff and lawyers critically reflect on their own practice.
Thinking about her time in the program several years ago, Kisha Munroe remembers:
“After a disillusioning first year at law school, the ADIP program introduced me to the possibilities of thriving in an area of law that aligned with my skills and values. It was a refreshing experience to work in an organization that applied human rights principles, not only in legal theory, but in practice with its employees and students. I really appreciated HRLSC's generous, cross-sectional and thorough approach to mentorship.”
Students not only provide advice to thousands of callers concerned about discrimination across Ontario, they prepare for mediations and hearings with their mentor lawyers and are able to play a key role in litigation preparation, from research to evidence to argument. Students are also given the opportunity to lead at least one mediation session on behalf of a client at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, which is often the highlight of their experience.
ADIP students have gone on to use their experience in direct service at the Centre to work on broader issues of systemic racism, sexism and homophobia and other aspects of discrimination across Canada and abroad.