What to expect


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.


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.

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. 


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.


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.