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SLS: A Primer

Neil Thomson (3L), Executive Coordinator of Student Legal Services


Student Legal Services (SLS) is a non-profit organization run by U of A law students. Our mandate is built around providing access to justice for the low-income community in the greater Edmonton area. It was founded in 1969 by a dozen law students operating with a bus and a dream. We’ve since grown to over three hundred volunteers across four projects, two offices, and numerous outreaches across the city. It is a unique program in Canada due to its size, length of operation, and the wealth of opportunities it offers to students who are looking to enhance their education with practical legal experience.

The Criminal Law Project is our biggest project in terms of file load. Through this project we assist individuals who are accused of summary conviction offences and select regulatory offences. Volunteering with this project involves an hour and a half shift every two weeks (or more if you’re keen) under the guidance of a Dayleader. Here you have an opportunity to handle criminal files and appear in provincial court. You will handle a file from the time a person is charged until the matter is resolved in the court which could include the possibility of running a trial.

The Civil and Family Law Project involves a similar time commitment as the Criminal Law Project, but the focus is on civil and family law issues. Students will provide legal information over the phone on a variety of topics and will have the opportunity to handle files of their own. Some of the issues we help with are breach of contract, landlord/tenant claims, child support issues, employment disputes, and more.

Our Legal Education and Reform Project is an opportunity to work directly with the low-income community in Edmonton through outreaches. Students will travel to outreaches in the city and provide general legal information as well as dispense materials on legal subjects. Sometimes students will also make presentations to local schools and community groups.

Pro-Bono Students Canada operates under SLS in Edmonton and the project provides a unique opportunity for students to work on smaller, more specialized topics. Students will work in small groups on a variety of projects ranging from tax to human rights to legal research. The opportunities in this project are diverse and numerous.

SLS will be at Clubs Fair this year on September 8th and will also be hosting our annual mixer on September 13th at CN Hall in the Law Centre after the 1L Foundations class from 5-7:30 PM. Stop by for information and some snacks! We’ll have applications for volunteering at both events or you can stop by our location at East Campus House 11036 88th avenue (that’s just across the street from school!) and grab an application. We accept any U of A law student who applies and we would love for all of you to join us again this year. Our deadline for applications is September 18th at 4 PM and they can be submitted to the front desk at East Campus House. Check out our website at, our Facebook page, or just stop by our office.