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Rights of Appearance for Law Students

Overview

Law students enrolled in a degree program at a Canadian law school accredited by the Law Society may appear before Ontario courts and tribunals on certain matters if they are employed or working under the direct supervision of a licensed lawyer. Law students appearing before a court or tribunal must identify themselves as a “law student” or “summer student.”

Individuals who are defined as “non-licensees” under By-law 7.1, including those not enrolled in an accredited Canadian law school, are not permitted to appear before Ontario courts and tribunals except as specifically provided by law.

Ontario courts and tribunals control their own processes. Although these Rights of Appearance for Law Students set out certain matters for which the Law Society’s governing legislation and by-laws permit law students to appear, it is always advisable to (i) consult any applicable enabling legislation and the rules of practice or procedure of the court or tribunal in question or (ii) contact the court or tribunal in advance to obtain express permission whenever possible.

Supervision Requirements

Part I of Law Society of Ontario’s By-Law 7.1 sets out the tasks and functions that a Canadian law student may perform and the level of supervision that is required when the law student is performing those tasks.

It is the supervising lawyer’s responsibility to set the parameters within which the law student operates. In determining what to delegate to law students, supervising lawyers should be guided not only by Part I of By-Law 7.1, but also by s. 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Rights of Appearance

Law students have many of the same rights of appearance as lawyer licensing process candidates. However, the provisions related to the family law pilot project that permit attendance without advance permission from the court (see Rights of Appearance) are not applicable to law students (other than Integrated Practice Curriculum students while they are engaged in their work placement term).

Supervising lawyers should review the information at Rights of Appearance and should interpret the rights of appearance having regard to the more limited training, experience, and ability of law students as compared to lawyer licensing process candidates.

Examples

So long as it is appropriate in the circumstances and the law student is subject to the direct supervision of a lawyer as required by By-Law 7.1, the following is a non-exhaustive list of matters at which a law student may appear:

  1. matters in the Small Claims Court;
  2. applications for adjournments in the Ontario Court of Justice on criminal law matters; 
  3. prosecutions under the Provincial Offences Act in the Ontario Court of Justice; and
  4. matters before tribunals in Ontario, subject to any applicable rules, procedures, or practice directions of those tribunals.
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