Public Interest Articling Fellowship participants
The Law Foundation of Ontario created the Public Interest Articling Fellowship program to help respond to the public’s need for legal assistance and to help give law students valuable 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.
Meet our most current Public Interest Articling Fellowship participants:
Law school: McGill University
PIAF placement: Amnesty International Canada
André Capretti graduated from McGill University’s Faculty of Law in 2018, with a dual degree in civil and common law and a major in international human rights and development.
During his studies, André volunteered his time with the Legal Information Clinic at McGill, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Avocats sans frontières/Lawyers Without Borders, and the Trans* Legal Clinic. André also spent summers interning in Phnom Penh, with LICADHO (Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights), and in Geneva, with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition, André gained valuable experience by clerking with Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal, where he prepared bench memos and briefed tribunal members on relevant legal issues for each case. He also worked in a boutique litigation law firm in Montreal, where he assisted on files including major class action lawsuits, pertaining to health care and elder rights in Quebec, and corporate environmental responsibility in East Asia.
André’s motivations for studying and pursuing a career in law have always been anchored in a desire to serve the public interest and to work on human rights issues, particularly at the international level. He is honoured and excited to be articling with Amnesty International Canada, a leader in these fields. André is also looking forward to exploring Ottawa, his new home, and all that our nation’s capital has to offer.
Jaya Élise Bordeleau-Cass
Law school: University of Ottawa
PIAF placement: Amnesty International Canada
Jaya Élise Bordeleau-Cass is a recent graduate of the JD program at the University of Ottawa. She has developed her legal skills through enriching opportunities with the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub’s Sponsorship Support Program and as a caseworker at the University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic. In her final year, Jaya spent seven months in Aotearoa (New Zealand) where she studied at the University of Waikato, completing coursework in International law and Māori law. She also interned with the Immigration and Refugee division at the Community Law Centre in Wellington, NZ.
Outside of law school, Jaya has been fortunate to learn from a diversity of work experiences that emphasize community-building and justice. These include: assisting with the coordination of Equitas’ International Human Rights Training Program; providing academic support at Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a college for Inuit students; and facilitating dialogue and relationship-building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth across the country with Canadian Roots Exchange.
Ashley Reya Dhandhari
Law school: University of Windsor
PIAF placement: Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
A. Reya Dhandhari completed her B.A. and M.A. at the University of Toronto in Women and Gender Studies. Prior to law school, Reya completed various work in the GTA’s non-for-profit sector working with Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, the Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention (ASAAP), Interim Place, and the Peel Committee Against Women Abuse (PCAWA). During her work at these agencies, she facilitated grassroots community-based responses to accessing social services and community programming that assisted women-identifying survivors of violence. Reya pursued her law degree in a desire to be a legal advocate for women and their children, and to continue to work towards ending gender-based-violence in her community.
Reya graduated law school from the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, where she continued her commitment to end gender-based violence. In her first year, she participated on the Pro Bono Students Canada House of Sophrosyne project, where she assisted in providing legal information to vulnerable women in a substance-use recovery program. Reya also acted as the Equity and Diversity Committee Co-Chair for her student law society, and was selected as a Windsor Law Social Justice Fellow working at the Justice for Children and Youth legal clinic in Toronto. Reya works from an anti-oppression, intersectional feminist lens and is excited to be a part of the legal team at the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.
Law school: University of Ottawa
PIAF placement: Canada Without Poverty
Vanessa Poirier recently completed her final year of the JD program at the University of Ottawa. Prior to law school, Vanessa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies from Carleton University and earned a diploma in Television Broadcasting from Algonquin College.
After graduating from her undergrad, Vanessa spent nearly a decade working in the television and broadcasting industry where she managed television series produced for HGTV, Food Network, and Gusto TV. While working in this field, Vanessa acquired extensive experience in project management and international business relations.
During her time at the University of Ottawa Law, Vanessa was the recipient of the Directed Access to Justice Fellowship where she gained invaluable exposure in areas of social justice including human rights, workers’ rights, and tenants’ rights. Vanessa also participated in the Access to Justice pop-up clinics as both a Case Worker and Case Manager, providing legal services to some of Ottawa’s most underserved communities.
While articling at Canada Without Poverty, Vanessa will focus on projects relating to strategic litigation, advocacy, casework, and legal education. Vanessa is thrilled to be articling at Canada Without Poverty where she can continue to advocate in the field of social justice.
J.Y. (Jianyang) Hoh
Law school: University of California, Berkeley
PIAF placement: Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
J.Y. (Jianyang) Hoh holds a law degree from the University of Oxford and an LL.M. specializing in international law from the University of California, Berkeley. He fell in love with public interest law during a course on the European Court of Human Rights, which taught him the courts’ crucial role in curbing the excesses of government power. Since then, J.Y. has worked in human rights organizations across the globe: refugee law work with the Refugee Law Office at Legal Aid Ontario, international human rights monitoring with the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights in Washington D.C., and a constitutional challenge against the criminal punishment of judicial caning in Singapore. He is thrilled to help the Canadian Civil Liberties Association uphold civil liberties in Canada.
Before J.Y.’s human rights career, he worked as an international trade negotiator for the Singaporean government and was part of the team that closed the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. He also served two years in the Singapore Armed Forces and dabbled briefly in theatre at university. J.Y. speaks Mandarin Chinese and enjoys going for long runs in Toronto’s ravines.
Law school: University of Ottawa
PIAF placement: Innocence Canada
Rebecca Dillon recently completed her law degree at the University of Ottawa in the common law program. Prior to entering law school, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at Western University and then went on to complete a master’s degree in Bioarchaeology at Western University. She spent two years working as an archaeologist before deciding to pursue a career in law. Her career in law was motivated by her interest in social justice initiatives – an interest that developed during her undergraduate degree where she took various courses that examined how inequality was created and maintained in society. This topic ultimately became the focus of her thesis research and inspired her to pursue a career in social justice.
During her time at the University of Ottawa, Rebecca volunteered for a variety of social justice initiatives including LEAF’s “Only Yes Means Yes” program which taught high school students about the law of consent and Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) as a volunteer for a research project with the Sexual Assault Network. She was later a member of the Student Advisory Board at the University of Ottawa’s PBSC chapter. In the last year of her studies she worked as a caseworker at the university’s Community Legal Clinic in the Women’s Division, assisting clients who had been the victims of violence with applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
It was during her summer experience at Innocence Canada, where she worked on legal education modules and client cases, that she knew she wanted to pursue a career in criminal law. Rebecca is thrilled to be continuing her legal career and social justice work with Innocence Canada by helping those who the criminal justice system has failed.
Law school: Queen’s University
PIAF placement: John Howard Society of Canada
Michelle Soucy graduated from Queen’s University Faculty of Law, 2019, where she specialized in criminal law and was highly involved with the Queen’s Prison Law Clinic. As a student with the Clinic, Michelle did frontline work assisting prisoners from Kingston’s six Federal penitentiaries with issues such as disciplinary court, segregation placements, parole, and access to health care. In her meetings with clients, Michelle became deeply concerned about some of the longterm issues she saw and heard about repeatedly from prisoners. She became passionate about ensuring that prisoners – one of society’s most vulnerable groups – are fairly treated.
Michelle is excited to have been selected for a Public Interest Articling Fellowship with the John Howard Society of Canada (JHSC). The JHSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to criminal justice reform and crafting effective, just, and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime. The JHSC litigates prisoner rights issues and is consulted with regularly by government officials and other policymakers when developing prison policy and procedure.
Michelle hopes to dedicate her legal career to building a fair criminal justice system for everyone. Her experiences in prison law affirmed to her the high stakes and consequences in criminal law and the importance of fairness and diligence throughout the criminal justice system.
Law school: Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law
PIAF placement: Peacebuilders International (Canada)
Aubrey Abaya is a recent graduate of The Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law. She completed her B.A. at the University of Toronto with a major in political science and a double minor in American studies and history. During law school, she volunteered with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, the Dauphin County Expungement Clinic, and served as a legal intern with the law school’s Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic.
Aubrey continued her public interest work as a legal intern and research assistant for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA). At CCLA, she assisted program directors with government submissions on provincial criminal law reform and privacy legislation, completed research for interventions at the Supreme Court of Canada, and presented educational workshops on the Charter to youth in grades 8 through 12. As a research assistant, she worked on a project assessing the state of access to education for youth in pretrial detention in Ontario. Through these experiences, she has developed a particular interest in advocating for youth and empowering youth to advocate for themselves.
Before starting law school, Aubrey had a brief stint co-writing and producing two plays and one feature length independent film. While she enjoyed her time in the arts, Aubrey is dedicated to serving the public interest and is excited to have the opportunity to continue that work with Peacebuilders.