The Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights is devoted to advocacy, research and education in the area of constitutional rights in Canada. Its cornerstone is a legal clinic bringing together students, faculty and members of the bar to work on significant constitutional cases. Appellate level cases that invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in innovative ways to promote social justice will be selected. It is expected that students will have the opportunity to work alongside practitioners and faculty in developing written and oral arguments, for academic credit. Daily casework could include case theory formulation, constitutional legal research, appellate brief and factum writing and attendance at oral argument. Projects may also include policy advocacy and research along with public legal education.
Substantive and procedural issues arising in advocating for constitutional rights will be explored through seminars and experiential learning. You will be exposed to skills-building seminars and case work and explore some of the legal, procedural, strategic, ethical and theoretical dimensions of issues that arise in cases and other forms of legal advocacy. The program challenges students to examine issues in significant constitutional cases and advocacy initiatives in a critical way, while at the same time allowing them to develop the professional and ethical literacy which is essential to the practice of law. Through their clinical work, written reflections, and weekly seminars, students will test relationships between constitutional principles and the practical realities of the advocacy process, and develop a conceptual and empirical understanding of constitutional lawyering.
The clinic will meet once a week for 3 hours. Part of each session will be organized as a seminar, which will focus on substantive issues in constitutional advocacy (eg. constitutional jurisdiction of various courts and tribunals; substantive basis for claims; roles of the various parties in Charter litigation; effective advocacy strategies) or on skills building (eg. research, drafting of pleadings, effective brief writing, analysis of legislation). Part of each session will be organized as discussions of the issues raised by the students casework and the issues involved in constitutional advocacy. Casework may include formulating case theories and advocacy strategies, legal research, drafting of briefs, facta or reports, or attending hearings.
Examples of past projects include:
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