2022-2023 PIAF articling highlights

We asked our 2022-2023 Public Interest Articling Fellowship participants to share some highlights of their articling experience. Here is some of what they shared.
July 21, 2023

2022-2023 PIAF articling highlights

We asked our 2022-2023 Public Interest Articling Fellowship participants to share some highlights of their articling experience. Here is some of what they shared.

Daniel MarinDaniel Marin
Law school: Osgoode Hall Law School
PIAF placement: Amnesty International Canada

During my fellowship, I contributed to Amnesty’s legal advocacy work by helping to prepare letters and submissions before UN human rights mechanisms, risk letters in refugee protection cases, and Amnesty’s human rights reports. I led the drafting of a submission addressed to UN human rights experts in support of an Indigenous rightsholder’s pursuit of justice concerning the adverse effects of enfranchisement and legacies of sex-based discrimination under the Indian Act. Engaging UN monitoring mechanisms and human rights experts can be critical to help hold states accountable to international human rights standards and treaty obligations, particularly in addressing systemic issues in Canada. The Public Interest Articling Fellowship provides an invaluable articling experience to learn about public interest law in Ontario, to amplify the voices of rightsholders, and advance the protection of international human rights in Canada.

Amanda LaBordeAmanda LaBorde
Law school: Osgoode Hall Law School
PIAF placement: Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

My experience has been extremely rewarding. I have learned so much from the communities I have served through my articles with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. A meaningful piece of work I did during my articles involved helping a single mother who had experienced significant family violence at the hands of the opposing party. Through my advocacy and drafting her pleadings, she was successful in getting a final award for child support, a restraining order, and an order for supervised parenting time for the other party. This was a major accomplishment and it solidified my desire to become a leader in the family law field and help more clients like her. I am grateful for my time at the clinic, and I hope that the Fellowship program will continue to inspire the next generation of lawyers.

Ayesha AdamjeeAyesha Adamjee
Law school: Osgoode Hall Law School
PIAF placement: Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (formerly Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation)

I provided legal information, advice, and representation to tenants facing a variety of housing issues. My favourite part about working at Canadian Centre for Housing Rights was being able to approach the issue of housing from all angles, helping me situate the law within the broader social and cultural context in which it operates. I no longer think of public interest law as an isolated area of advocacy. Rather, I am able to see the intersections between all administrative branches of society and have seen firsthand how the public interacts with these systems. I was able to bring this perspective to my public legal education seminars, and in my advice to individual clients. The growth in my perspective has also broadened my career horizons and has highlighted how transferable my legal education can be.

Stacey SewardStacey Seward
Law school: Osgoode Hall Law School
PIAF placement: Innocence Canada

Articling at Innocence Canada is a highly rewarding experience. The path to exoneration is long. But it is not entirely without immediate gratification. Every letter of thanks from a client or supporter, every decision, big or small, made by the courts and the Minister of Justice on one of our cases, or wrongful conviction policy in general, feels like a win. Not a win in the sense of a win/loose, zero-sum game, but a win for a person who has unfairly suffered tremendously, a win for the public interest, and a win for justice in general. I attended the Innocence Network conference. Much of it was focused on educational sessions for lawyers, but exonerees were really the lifeblood of the conference. It was an emotional, life-changing experience that re-affirmed my commitment to this work and why I am doing it.

Woman with long black hair and bangs wearing a light grey pinstriped jacket with a forest visible behind herVivian Sim
Law school: Osgoode Hall Law School
PIAF placement: John Howard Society of Canada

In addition to my contributions to adversarial legal proceedings before courts and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, I participated in legislative consultations with parliamentarians and observed the inquisitorial process at a Coroner’s Inquest. I am grateful to the many people who made my fellowship special, including the team at the John Howard Society of Canada, my colleagues in the Canadian Prison Law Association, The Law Foundation of Ontario, collaborators in academia and the correctional service, and especially the prisoners with whom I worked. I have been given the opportunity to continue work with the JHSC, and I will continue to follow developments in the field of correctional law with great interest. The means of addressing systemic issues in corrections are various, and my public interest work reinforced for me that litigation is just one of a number of useful options.

Gabby AquinoGabrielle (Gabby) C. Aquino
Law school: Osgoode Hall Law School
PIAF placement: Peacebuilders Canada

By working under and with lawyers who exist in unique spaces, and were generous with their patience, mentorship, and guidance, I was able to better understand how I can use my legal knowledge in creative ways that are informed by the needs and interests of communities themselves. Questions about the implications of being part of a system that too often marginalizes the same communities it is mandated to support – including those that I belong or otherwise have connections to – remain. In fact, I think those questions will last a lifetime given how complex they are. What articling left me with however, was a newfound understanding that there are ways to exist in the legal profession that are rooted in community and present real opportunities to address harm and conflict in other, more restorative ways.

Amy HillAmy Hill
Law school: Dalhousie University
PIAF placement: Public Interest Advocacy Centre

I had the opportunity to support PIAC’s work advocating in a number of areas of law and before a variety of different decisionmakers and policymakers. One of the highlights of my articling term was testifying before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, which was wrapping up a study on food price inflation. Advocating on behalf of consumers, we talked to Parliamentarians about the need to extend the Grocery Rebate and consider other income supplements during this inflationary period and beyond, acknowledging that food insecurity is an income problem with serious physical and mental health impacts. This articling experience has forever changed how I envision my own legal career moving forward. I have also gained a community of incredible advocates who will continue to inspire me as I move forward in my own career.

Kienna Shkopich-HunterKienna Shkopich-Hunter
Law school: University of Alberta
PIAF placement: Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)

I had the opportunity to participate in numerous law reform projects and strategic legal interventions. I now have a better understanding of the planning and strategy that goes into a strategic intervention. I worked on written submissions to the federal government and had the chance to appear as a witness in front of a Senate committee. I completed research on various legal issues with a view to the impact a law may have on marginalized communities. During a time when LGBTQ2S+, non-binary, and trans rights as well as reproductive rights are being threatened, I am particularly grateful for the work that LEAF does, and their work has had an impact on me. I hope to continue to do work that advances equality and after working at LEAF, I feel that I have the tools and the knowledge to do that.