Young Lawyers International Program
VALUABLE WORK AND LIFE EXPERIENCE
Since 2002, the Young Lawyers International Program (YLIP) has placed more than 140 of Canada’s brightest young law graduates and lawyers in internships with overseas organizations working in law reform, human rights and access to justice. YLIP interns have participated in numerous justice-related efforts in countries across East and South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The program has been funded by Global Affairs Canada as part of the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy (YES).
The program has two objectives:
- Facilitating opportunities for young Canadian law graduates and lawyers to gain effective skills and perspective in relation to the field of justice and development
- Enabling support by young Canadian law graduates and lawyers for the work of overseas organizations in law reform, access to justice, and human rights
Opportunities for 2015-17 internship cycles have closed. The CBA hopes to relaunch programming again in the coming year. Please "Like" the CBA YLIP Facebook page in order to be notified as soon as program updates become available or check back to this page regularly.
OVERSEAS PLACEMENT ORGANIZATIONS
Overseas placement partners of the CBA are national and international NGOs and professional bodies that respond to demonstrated needs in their countries and regions. Some partners focus on client service, while others are more engaged in high level advocacy and policy efforts. All serve the needs of marginalized individuals or groups including women and youth, LGBT persons, persons with disabilities, members of minority communities and others, or else promote advances in environmental law. Recent YLIP partners are listed at the base of this page; the CBA anticipates that these and other organizational partners may be involved in future programming.
The full term of the internship is eight months, including pre-departure and reintegration time in Canada.
Interns participate in a mandatory, cost-covered in-person orientation and briefing session in Ottawa and subsequently undertake necessary logistical and substantive pre-departure preparations. The typical timeline from briefing to departure is one to two months. Interns are then placed with overseas organizations for six months, including two weeks of vacation while organizations are closed for holidays. In special cases, the work cycle may be extended, such as where a placement organization is willing and able to compensate an intern for further work. Some interns have in the past found ongoing work either with a CBA partner organization or with another organization in the country of placement.
On completing placements, interns who are available to do so are invited to join a debriefing session in Canada to participate in dialogues on skills and learning overseas as well as on job and career planning.
The timing of new internship cycles depends on the availability of funding each year, and law graduates or lawyers interested in applying should check back to this page or ensure they are receiving updates on opportunities from the CBA YLIP Facebook page.
READINESS FOR A YLIP INTERNSHIP
Overseas placements require a great deal of flexibility, patience, pragmatism, ongoing proactivity and adaptability, and day-to-day diplomacy and budgetary savvy. Active listening skills and a sense of humour are indispensable. Interns with these qualities who are passionate and dedicated to gaining professional and life experience in often challenging overseas contexts, have the best chance of success.
Learn more about interns’ first hand experiences under the YLIP.
MATCHING OF INTERNS TO PLACEMENT ORGANIZATIONS
In order to match successful candidates with overseas partner organizations, the CBA assesses individual skills, qualifications and interests against the needs of organizations. Interns are invited to provide suggestions and preferences for consideration prior to final decisions. Final placement decisions rest with the CBA.
UNIQUE WORK OPPORTUNITIES AND WHAT TO EXPECT
While interns are not able to practice law overseas, all placement organizations enable opportunities for interns to gain substantive experience as well as other types of valuable professional experience. Depending on the placement organization, interns should expect to be involved in one or more of the following areas: research, analysis, and writing including supporting the protection or advancement of individual rights, collective rights, or the environment; justice and rights advocacy, including in relation to reforms or reform implementation; public engagement; public legal education; assistance in preparing trainings in constitutional law, rights-based issues or other matters; and/or other efforts related to improving the local justice and rights framework in placement countries. Interns also support organizational activities on an ongoing basis, including assisting to plan and participate in consultations or public awareness/engagement events, developing awareness-raising materials and tools, or liaising with clients and other stakeholders. Law graduates and lawyers involved in the YLIP emerge with stronger skills in cross-cultural communications, conflict resolution, strategic thinking, collaborating with various justice and development actors, and otherwise functioning in complex and unfamiliar contexts. YLIP interns also gain valuable awareness of international development efforts and areas for improvement in effectively supporting development and greater access to justice, both globally and in Canada.
Alumni of the YLIP have undertaken career paths in the public, private or civil society sectors in Canada and internationally over the years. Alumni are working with overseas development and rule of law organizations, and are working in Canada in a wide range of career paths including labour, poverty, employment, Aboriginal, environmental or criminal law practice; as counsel for academic bodies, human rights tribunals, and federal or provincial agencies with justice-related mandates; or in alternative careers in community legal aid, public legal education, policy development, or as advisors and advocates in many areas of law, sometimes after pursuing further graduate studies. Law graduates and lawyers who have worked and lived in developing contexts most often demonstrate the core professional capabilities sought by employers as a result of their time overseas, including experience in complex work and social environments; a higher ability to adapt; and well-roundedness, patience, and maturity.
The CBA YLIP provides a modest monthly living stipend to interns overseas. This may vary in the future, in accordance with the cost of living in placement cities. The Program also contributes to health insurance and vaccination expenses and covers full travel and visa costs to overseas placements. Interns are responsible for researching, preparing and budgeting for the cost of living in their placement locations.
Interns selected for the YLIP are responsible for administrative arrangements including securing of accommodations overseas, health insurance, needed vaccinations, and visa applications and renewals. Following a briefing session in Ottawa, interns communicate with the CBA on their planned travel dates. The CBA arranges all travel in order to ensure compliance with Treasury Board guidelines. Interns undertake preliminary substantive research prior to commencing work overseas, with input from their overseas supervisors, so as to be prepared for the relevant legal context. Throughout the internship, interns communicate regularly with and report to the CBA on the range of contributions they have made overseas, and identify means of engaging the Canadian public on global access to justice, human rights, and legal reform issues. Program alumni are asked to advise future interns on living and working overseas and to keep the CBA apprised of their employment status after placements.
To qualify, applicants must at minimum be graduates of Canadian law faculties. Qualified lawyers are accepted, though there is no preference for applicants to be qualified. Applicants must be at or below the age of 30, and must be either Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Applicants must not have previously participated in an internship under the Canadian government's Youth Employment Strategy (YES Program), of which the YLIP is a part.
All placements require a strong basis in either English or French, depending in part on the clientele or location of the organization. Applications should include reference to competencies in either or both language and any other language.
Applicants who meet these eligibility criteria will be assessed with a preference for those who have:
- Demonstrated involvement in extra-curricular initiatives such as pro bono legal aid, advocacy, or public awareness-raising efforts so as to promote or improve access to justice in any way; and/or
- Some degree of practical legal experience and skills, with a genuine interest in working in or shifting toward the field of access to justice or human rights in Canada or abroad.
Applicants should outline relevant coursework and any relevant (current or prior) experience as well as subject areas of particular interest, if any. The selection process includes assessment of a range of criteria met by written applications, interviews and referee inputs.
HOW TO APPLY
Applicants are asked to submit a letter of interest and CV (as two documents) to cbaidp@CBA.org in English or French. Both documents should be titled with the applicant’s last name and first initial (e.g. DumontP-let and DumontP-cv). The email subject line should be formatted as follows: DumontP, YLIP Application.
CVs should also list three references including name, professional status, and telephone and email contact information. Ideally one is professional, one volunteer-related or academic, and one is a personal reference.
Note that only shortlisted candidates are contacted following closing due dates.
Internships for 2015-2017 included placements with the following organizations:
- Guyana Legal Aid Clinic (GLAC) – Georgetown, Guyana
- The Katiba Institute – Nairobi, Kenya
- The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya) – Nairobi, Kenya
- Law Society of Kenya (LSK) – Nairobi, Kenya
- Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) – Windhoek, Namibia
- Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) – Multiple offices, South Africa
- Legal Resources Centre (LRC) – Multiple offices, South Africa
- Legal Aid South Africa – Multiple offices, South Africa
- International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance International (IDEA) – Kathmandu, Nepal
- Save the Children – Kathmandu, Nepal
- South African History Archive (SAHA) – Johannesburg, South Africa
- National Legislative Development Project – Hanoi, Vietnam
- UNICEF - Hanoi, Vietnam