About the Public Interest Articling Fellowship
The Law Foundation of Ontario created the Public Interest Articling Fellowships Program (PIAF) to respond to:
- The public interest community’s growing need for assistance
- A desire among law students to gain experience in public interest law
The Foundation makes a substantial contribution to public interest law in Ontario through this program as many organizations simply do not have enough funding to host articling students.
2017-2018 PIAF Fellows
Meet our most current Public Interest Articling Fellowship participants
Law school: Osgoode Hall, York University
PIAF placement: Amnesty International
Katrina attended Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto because, after spending many years in academia (Katrina also has an MA in History), she realized that a law degree was one way she could actually do something about the historical and ongoing injustices she had studied. She wanted to do something where she could amplify the voices of others in the real world, not merely in the ivory tower. This is also why Katrina wants to work in the public interest. She is inspired by people who continually raise their voices against injustice, even at great personal cost. Coming from a fairly privileged background herself, she cannot fathom the level of courage that takes. As for her greatest accomplishment—Katrina is hoping that’s still to come! For now, she is pretty proud to have a) made it through law school, and b) secured an articling position that enables her to put her good intentions into action.
Law school: Osgoode Hall, York University
PIAF placement: Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Amy graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2017. Her academic background is in Women and Gender Studies and Feminist Research at Western University and the University of Toronto. Her choice to pursue a career in law was always driven by her desire to work with marginalized and underserved communities and specifically with victims of gender based violence. During law school Amy spent 2L working in the family law division of the Community Legal Aid Services Program where she got her first taste of front line legal public interest work. On top of being able to experience the gaps in legal services available for family law clients, she was able to see the ways that the most vulnerable individuals face multiple legal and administrative systems, often without help.
All of her education and experience to date has brought her to working at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. She spent her 2L summer working with the Clinic and is overjoyed to be back and to have the opportunity to work with the brilliant lawyers, counsellors, social workers, interpreters, and staff that make this clinic the unique resource it is. At the Clinic she is working with immigration and family law clients as well as contributing to public interest/policy work. Amy is immensely grateful that the Public Interest Articling Fellowship allows her the opportunity to continue with work she is truly passionate about in the field of gender based violence.
Law school: McGill University
PIAF placement: Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
Victoria’s interest for human rights was the reason she decided to study at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, where she obtained a B.C.L/LL.B. degree. While at McGill, Victoria translated her academic legal education into practical experience by working with legal clinics that assist marginalized communities in Montreal. For example, as an intern at Project Genesis, she offered legal support to individuals in the areas of housing, welfare, and pensions. She was further exposed to the existing inequalities in Montreal when she volunteered at the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, an organization that assists victims of discrimination. There, she conducted research for Sojourner v Conseil de la justice administrative, the first case in Quebec to formally recognize intersectionality as a lens to use in legal analysis.
During her third summer of law school, Victoria interned at Equitas as an Education Intern for the International Human Rights Training Program. She worked alongside 90 human rights activists from 50 different countries and had the opportunity to learn from first-hand accounts of human rights abuses occurring around the world. Victoria refocused her attention on civil liberties issues in Canada during her next summer when she interned at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), an experience that eventually led to her decision to rejoin the organization as a PIAF Fellow.
After writing the Quebec bar, Victoria spent her next six months exploring her interests in criminal law and international justice at the International Criminal Court, where she worked on Bosco Ntaganda’s Defense Team. She is now very excited to be back home and to continue contributing to the protection of civil liberties and constitutional rights in Canada during her fellowship at the CCLA.
Law school: McGill University
PIAF placement: Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ)
Leah Gardner graduated from the Faculty of Law at McGill University in 2016. Before starting law school, she worked as the Public Education Coordinator at a social justice nonprofit in Montreal. Here, she led programs on topics like the Canadian extractive industry in Central America and international trade. As a human rights accompanier in Colombia, Leah worked with communities impacted by mining. She later returned to Colombia, and also Panama, as a legal intern focused on mining law and corporate accountability. She currently sits on the board of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), based at Osgoode Hall Law school. As part of her work with JCAP, she co-authored the 2016 report The “Canada Brand”: Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America.
Law school: Western University
PIAF placement: Innocence Canada
Marie entered law school as a mature student having worked in health care, retail, and business while raising four children together with her husband. Volunteering in her community has always been important to her and during law school, Marie was able to work as an English language group leader for international students, a caseworker at Western Law’s Community Legal Services clinic and as an associate caseworker with the Pro Bono Students Canada Family Law Project at the London courthouse. These social justice experiences were rewarding and were exactly the type of work that attracted Marie to law. Additionally, as an LSAT prep course instructor, she was able to partner with Western University’s Indigenous Services, Western’s Faculty of Law, and the Princeton Review to offer a unique introductory LSAT course for Indigenous students interested in law school.
Throughout law school, Marie was inspired by numerous gifted speakers and was especially motivated by hearing David Milgaard, William Mullins-Johnson, Jordan Carter, and James Lockyer speak about wrongful convictions. She is honoured to be articling with Innocence Canada doing advocacy work with this organization that she has long admired. Marie appreciates The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Public Interest Articling Fellowship that has made this opportunity possible. She is excited to be in Toronto this year, surrounded by amazing coffee shops on every corner, and is looking forward to cycling the biking trails and finding a rec volleyball league in her new community.
Law school: University of British Columbia
PIAF placement: Peacebuilders International
Robert graduated from the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law in 2017 with a specialization in law and social justice. Prior to law school he studied international relations at the University of Toronto. Throughout his education, he has been interested in the norms that structure society and the ways in which social change can be achieved.
During law school he was active in various volunteer activities, including PBSC placements at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Robert enjoys communicating legal and political issues to the public. His work has most recently been published in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor and the Globe and Mail.
He is fascinated by the intersection of law and public policy, and hopes to develop his skills in both areas to their fullest potential, always in the service of others. He is continually inspired by his peers and mentors in the legal community, and by all of his colleagues at Peacebuilders. He is grateful for the opportunity to work in the public interest during his articling year, and humbled by the responsibility it entails.
Law school: University of Ottawa
PIAF placement: Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
Jennifer Chow earned her Juris Doctor degree at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law where she also received the Dean’s Award for academic excellence and outstanding contributions to the law school community. Before law school, Jennifer earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto with a major in Ethics, Society, and Law and double minors in Political Science and Writing and Rhetoric.
Jennifer is passionate about advocating for others and this passion has guided her legal career. Prior to articling at PIAC, Jennifer interned with the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services where she worked with colleagues to draft the Annotated Guide to the Wireless Code, a document that helps Canadian consumers understand their rights and the requirements set out for telephone and internet service providers across the country. Jennifer also competed in numerous advocacy competitions throughout her studies. Her most memorable one was an international moot held annually in Europe with over 65 other teams; Jennifer and her teammates ranked among the top seven finalists globally and top two finalists from North America. During this competition, Jennifer advocated for issues revolving around public health, green energy, employment, and consumer opinion, among other topics.
Jennifer’s notable experiences also include serving as a mentor to students in the Legal Writing Academy at the University of Ottawa, promoting tolerance through her role as President of the Asian Law Students’ Society, delving into administrative law principles with the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons, and working for the Government of Ontario’s then-named Ministry of the Environment. Each of these experiences has allowed Jennifer to continue developing her passion for public interest advocacy and improving the lives and communities of those around her.