Every year Innocence Canada is grateful for the teams of students who assist in our important work. Our students create materials for and deliver public legal education, conduct research and assist with case work. Dedicated students greatly increase our capacity as an organization. It is a significant but worthwhile undertaking to supervise students. Innocence Canada has many programs and partnerships with colleges, universities and organizations throughout Canada.

Articling

Innocence Canada is able to hire one articling student per year through the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Public Interest Articling Fellowship Program. Note that Innocence Canada follows the Toronto articling recruit timeline and guidelines as set out by the Law Society of Ontario.

Innocence Canada articling students assist in reviewing claims of wrongful conviction and, where applicable, in preparing for the litigation of those claims. This work includes managing case files, preparing legal research, and working collaboratively with Innocence Canada staff and pro-bono lawyers in the development of strategies for pursuing claims of wrongful conviction.

The application period for 2023-2024 articling position is now closed. Should you have questions related to the articling recruit, please contact the Director of Education.

Our 2022-23 articling student is Stacey Seward

Stacey Seward graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2022, where she fostered a passion for criminal defence and advocating for the wrongfully convicted during a year-long clinical placement with the school’s Innocence Project. She was a recipient of the Ian Scott Public Interest Award, which allowed her to continue this important work and education through a fellowship with Innocence Canada. She is delighted to return as an articling student.

 Stacey also holds a Bachelor of Journalism (honours) degree, with a combined honours in political science from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A zealous researcher and storyteller with a love for the written word, she worked as a freelance print journalist for some time.

Before university, she lived mainly in her hometown, St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she worked as a bartender and was involved in many creative and musical communities, ranging from punk rock to traditional folk music.

 Coming from a background where resources are often scarce, public interest work is of the upmost importance to Stacey. She strongly believes that neither systemic issues, nor a lack of financial resources, should preclude anybody from obtaining meaningful justice. She is immensely grateful for the opportunity to do work that aligns with this maxim

What our articling students have to say

I had the opportunity to work for Innocence Canada both as a summer student and as an articling student. It was through the assistance of the dedicated staff at Innocence Canada that I developed the confidence I needed to start my career as a lawyer. What was so unique about my experience at the organization was that I was able to learn and seek advice from a wide variety of legal professionals and experts in the field of non-profit work. For anyone interested in pursuing a career in criminal law and in social justice work, this experience was the perfect combination of intensive training in the nuances of criminal law (including legal drafting, research, and communicating with experts and clients) and education and advocacy work, which is crucial to systemic reform.

What I especially valued was the care and attention that the staff took to ensure that I gained all the experience that I needed to start my career in law. They also introduced me to senior members of the criminal bar and created meaningful mentorship opportunities for me. I greatly enjoyed my time with the organization and was thrilled to be a signee on two s. 696.1 applications for ministerial review. I would highly recommend this articling experience to anyone interested in criminal law.

Rebecca Dillon (Articling Student 2019-2020, University of Ottawa)

I feel very privileged to have completed my articling at Innocence Canada. During this time, I worked alongside colleagues who were friendly, highly intelligent, and passionate about wrongful conviction work. I greatly appreciated their encouragement and support throughout my articling period.

Innocence Canada provided me with opportunities to work alongside senior members of the Bar on complex criminal law cases. I also had the chance to meet and develop relationships with both the wrongly convicted and those who are still fighting to clear their names. As I begin my journey as a criminal defence lawyer, it is these people and their stories that I will always remember. Their resilience and perseverance have inspired me to be the best possible criminal defence lawyer that I can be.

Christopher Nagel (Articling Student 2018-2019, University of Ottawa)

Summer Fellowships

Innocence Canada has had summer law fellowship students working alongside lawyers and legal professionals for many years. While Innocence Canada does not have the resources to employ summer students, many law schools in Canada have fellowship programs that give students funding or academic credit for their work at Innocence Canada. 

Summer students engage in both aspects of Innocence Canada’s mandate: reviewing claims of wrongful conviction and public legal education and advocacy. Students work with Innocence Canada’s staff lawyers to provide legal services for the purposes of establishing that a wrongful conviction has occurred and exonerating that wrongly convicted person. They also work with Innocence Canada’s Director of Education to research and develop educational programming with the goal of preventing future wrongful convictions.

Many students have questions regarding the writing sample requirement. Note that the sample can be any writing you choose however we strongly recommend you consider submitting an academic paper. We understand that 1Ls have not yet had the opportunity to produce substantial written work. In this case we would suggest looking to your undergraduate papers. If you do not have a writing sample that is exactly three pages, you may wish to submit a three page section of a longer paper.

If you have other questions about Innocence Canada's summer fellowship program, please contact the Director of Education. 

Thank you to our 2022 Summer Fellowship students!

Wardha Khokhar, University of Montreal

Wardha completed her Bachelor of laws at the University of Montreal. She begins Bar school in fall 2022. A strong advocate for justice, she is a co-founder of Juristes Engagées, a non-profit organization that provides free legal information to those in need. She is a firm believer of access to justice for all. Having worked closely with victims of conjugal violence at the Shield of Athena, Wardha is truly passionate about amplifying the voices of marginalized and vulnerable people. She has a deep appreciation for activism and seeks new ways to get involved in her community. Having volunteered at the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) and the University of Montreal Pro Bono division, she is committed to helping others and to reduce social inequalities.

Nikou Salamat, University of Toronto

Nikou is a Summer Legal Fellow with Innocence Canada, and an incoming 2L student at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Innocence Canada is a national non-profit organization dedicated to identifying, advocating for, and exonerating wrongly convicted individuals. She supports Innocence Canada’s lawyers with post-conviction review case work, which includes reviewing claims of wrongful conviction, identifying new avenues for investigation, and conducting legal research on specific criminal law issues. She also works on Innocence Canada’s educational programming, which seeks to prevent future miscarriages of justice. Prior to law school, she completed an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights.

What our summer students have to say

Over summer 2020 I had a summer fellowship with Innocence Canada. I honestly can’t say enough good things about my time spent with the organization, and about the wonderful people who work there. Innocence Canada provided me with the opportunity to engage in meaningful case work, hone my legal research and memorandum writing, and create educational materials about causes of wrongful convictions. Working alongside Innocence Canada’s supervising team in a legal and educational capacity offered me invaluable exposure to a very specialized area of criminal law, and highlighted the importance of education for the prevention of future injustice

The team at Innocence Canada cares deeply about their students’ experience and professional growth. The supervising team provides meaningful feedback on our work while also creating opportunities for students to lead projects and extensively dive into active case files. Their leadership, coupled with the trust they have in their students’ capabilities, has strengthened my confidence in exercising legal skills. Despite the challenges of working remotely through a pandemic, the Innocence Canada team prioritized connecting with students, both individually and as a group. I would 100 percent recommend working with Innocence Canada to any law student – especially those with an interest in the intersections of criminal law and social justice.

Sara Edwards (Summer Fellow 2020, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University)

During the summer of 2020, I worked as a volunteer summer fellow with Innocence Canada. My experience at Innocence Canada was everything I could have asked for and more. The role included a mix of learning about wrongful convictions and using that learning to create further educational materials and support the ongoing case work of Innocence Canada. I worked on various educational projects such as developing a module on Indigenous people and wrongful conviction as well drafting a  mock trial to be used in high schools. I worked on various case files and was given the opportunity to learn and practice legal drafting, legal research and investigative skills.

The supervising team at Innocence Canada provided me and the other summer fellows with ample opportunities to practice our legal skills, while also providing meaningful guidance and feedback. I really appreciated the amount of trust the Innocence Canada team had in the students from day one. Even amidst a pandemic the Innocence Canada team helped foster meaningful relationships between the students and the supervising team. This role with Innocence Canada gave me an understanding not just of wrongful conviction and criminal law but also non-profit and social justice work. I would highly recommend this program to any law student, but particularly to law students who are passionate about justice. 

Laura Sumner (Summer Fellow 2020, Queen's University)

Faculty of Law Externship, University of Toronto

The Innocence Canada externship allow students to experience directly the legal work of a non-profit organization working to overturn the criminal convictions of innocent people. Students will be exposed to a variety of legal work in the area of criminal law carried out by Innocence Canada and may be engaged in activities such as drafting s. 696.1 applications, reviewing police investigatory files, trial transcripts and appeals motions, and assisting with bail applications.

Students participating in the Innocence Canada externship will have an opportunity to develop their legal skills in a highly specialized criminal law setting. Students will develop an understanding of wrongful convictions and criminal law more broadly, by working directly with experienced lawyers on active case files.

Four students are participating in the externship for the full 2021-22 academic year. 

Innocence Project, Osgoode Hall Law School

The collaboration between Innocence Canada and the Innocence Project at Osgoode Hall Law School is long-standing. This collaboration allows students enrolled in the Innocence Project at Osgoode to work on active files at Innocence Canada and directly with Innocence Canada case reviewers and staff lawyers.

Students participate in weekly lectures, deepening their understanding of causes of wrongful convictions as well as issues and challenges faced in working to overturn a wrongful conviction. They are then able to apply their learning to claims of wrongful conviction, working to advance these through the stages with the ultimate goal of submitting a s.696.1 Application to the Minister of Justice.

Pro Bono Students Canada

Innocence Canada has partnered with Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) for many years on a variety of projects delivered on a rotating basis at law schools across the country. Past projects have included delivering legal education workshops at high schools and developing educational presentations for law students.

To learn more about Innocence Canada’s PBSC projects, speak with your local Program Coordinators.