Volunteer Program

The DLS volunteer program is a full-year opportunity to gain professional skills and contribute to meaningful social justice work in partnership with other fantastic law students, social work students, and supervising lawyers. Unfortunately, we can only offer a limited number of spaces to 1L and upper-year law students, and we will make those offers via random lottery. However, we have introduced several changes to our volunteer program during the past several years to improve student experiences:

  • Rather than being assigned to a specific DLS division (area of law), volunteers will have an opportunity to gain exposure to multiple areas of law at the clinic by seeking opportunities in whatever division(s) they want.
  • The upper-year volunteer experience is also not tied to a specific division – did you miss out on the lottery in 1L, not have space to take the DLS credit course, and still want to get involved and learn about our work? This program is for you!

As a DLS volunteer, you will learn about poverty law, access to justice, community outreach, legal professionalism and ethics, client intake, and the art of providing quality referrals. Our volunteer program includes:

  • A full-day training session with experienced DLS student caseworkers (called division leaders) on Saturday, September 21, 2019,
  • A weekly one (1) hour telephone intake shift, under the supervision of a division leader, where you will help callers from across Toronto identify their legal issue, whether they qualify for DLS services, whether we are available to assist them, or the place(s) where they should be referred for help,
  • Opportunities to observe and assist division leaders during their client meetings, case preparation, research, court and tribunal appearances, and satellite clinic attendance
  • Opportunities to work on other substantive work and projects in each area of law practiced by DLS, whether in support of a major case, a public legal education workshop, a law reform campaign, or a community organizing effort, and
  • Deep exposure to each division’s work through case rounds spread out through the academic year.

This clinic’s more than 45-year history, structure, and reputation stands on the committed work of volunteer UofT law students. While our casework is lead by credit students and division leaders working under lawyer supervision, the DLS volunteer program is a great opportunity to explore public interest law, as well as the direct practice of academic, criminal, family, employment, housing, and refugee law on behalf of vulnerable client communities.

A lunchtime information session on this program will be held at the law school on Thursday, September 12, 2019 (12:30 – 2:00 pm) in Rm J250.

Applications for the DLS volunteer program are due at noon on Friday, September 13, 2019 – click here to submit your application.

The first round of random lottery offers will be released on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, with rolling offers to follow until all spaces are filled. Saturday training day and telephone intake shift scheduling will follow.

Other opportunities

If you are a past caseworker who wishes to return as a volunteer caseworker, please contact the staff lawyer of your division to make those arrangements. Your participation in the above-described program is entirely separate and optional.

DLS also recruits law student volunteers for a separate, external program called the Tenant Duty Counsel Assistance Project (TDCAP) supervised by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. Click here for more information.