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CLS celebrates new space, receives funding for family law

October 1, 2014

L R DEAN IAIN SCOTT, LEGAL AID ONTARIO CEO BOB WARD, DOUG FERGUSON, LAW STUDENT ALEX MAMO AND PASCALE DAIGNEAULT, PRESIDENT, ONTARIO BAR ASSOCIATION
L-R Dean Iain Scott, Bob Ward, Doug Ferguson, Alex Mamo and Pascale Daigneault

Western Law hosted a grand re-opening of the new Community Legal Services (CLS) clinic in February.

“For many low-income persons, CLS provides the only means to achieve justice. Last year our students worked on more than 1,000 files,” said Doug Ferguson, the clinic’s director. “We’re very proud of the work we do and our new, expanded clinic space, which is now one of the best in the country, will help us to do even more to assist low-income Londoners,” said Ferguson.

CLS is seen as a leader in the movement toward experiential education in law school. In 2010, CLS organized the first national conference of Canadian student legal clinics; CLS Director Doug Ferguson served as the founding president of the Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is providing over $2 million over three years to six university-operated legal clinics to provide family law services for low-income Ontarians.

“Family law is one of the greatest areas of need when it comes to accessing justice,” says John McCamus, Chair of LAO. “We believe that law students can help to bridge the growing gaps in legal services – and we are pleased to support these student-run legal clinics to ensure that this happens.”

Community Legal Services will receive $303,000 in funding to provide representation for family law clients in co-operation with LAO’s family law duty counsel. Funds will also be used to support the development and training of students in family law. Beginning this September, CLS will be handling family law cases and will add a new family lawyer, Jennifer Foster, a Western Law alumna, to head up the area.

“With 60 to 70 per cent of parties in London’s family court being self-represented, we have hoped for many years to add family law to our clinic,” said Doug Ferguson, Director of Community Legal Services Clinic. “This grant will allow us to help low-income persons, speed up the court process, and train students how to be good lawyers. We are grateful to Legal Aid Ontario for this funding.”


This article appeared in the Western Law 2014 Alumni Magazine.
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