Blog: Articling Students are the Next Generation of Environmental Advocates

Blog post by Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Executive Director and President, CELA Foundation

Every day, we at the Canadian Environmental Law Association are involved in casework, advocacy, policy development, and educational activities that will protect our environment and public health. Our funders, partners, colleagues, and donors all contribute to our success in our work for environmental justice. These are urgent issues that confront us now.

Yet it’s important to look beyond today’s compelling cases to plan for the future as well. How do we build the next generation of environmental advocates to ensure that there is always strength on the front line, supporting vulnerable communities whose rights are being eroded by new challenges?

The CELA Foundation, with its mandate to provide outreach and education, helps us prepare for the future. Did you know that we educate and train lawyers on important environmental case law through our articling program? By giving to the CELA Foundation, you help to ensure that we continue to offer this opportunity to articling students. Your donation will make a difference today and for the future by helping us build an important knowledge base for environmental legal cases and develop the skills of lawyers who will advocate for the environmental reforms we need.

Articling students are law school graduates who are completing a 10-month period of training before being called to the bar. At CELA, the articling student deals directly with individuals seeking legal support, learns about the decision-making processes that are integral to CELA’s law reform activities, and is directly involved in environmental litigation. Former students who completed their training at CELA have gone on to advocate for environmental protection at other ENGOs, at other environmental law firms, with provincial and federal environment ministries and tribunals in Canada, at environmental auditors’ offices, and have continued work for vulnerable communities and clients in some of CELA’s sister legal clinics in Ontario. They learned about the importance of the rule of law, advocating for the public interest, and appreciating the need for systemic improvements to environmental decision-making by articling with CELA.

It’s so important to prepare the next generation of lawyers for this work. To have people who will use their experience and knowledge gained at CELA to advocate for a safe, healthy environment that benefits every one of us.

People like Maneka Kaur, an internationally trained lawyer, who recently completed the CELA articling program. Maneka’s love of environmental law started in India in 2012, when she interacted with a pioneer of environmental law activism. During her time with CELA, Maneka worked on a variety of projects, including summary advice files, freshwater policy reform, land use guidelines, and fish consumption advisory research.
I’m inspired by Maneka, and grateful that we were able to provide this opportunity. This month, we welcome our newest articling student, and we need your support to continue our program. One by one, we are building our front line to advance environmental protection for generations to come. Won’t you help us make that possible, this year and every year?

Your gift today will enhance our research for emerging cases and enable us to respond to vital information requests from practicing lawyers, environmental NGOs, the public, and other colleagues who share our mission to protect our environment. Please don’t delay – the need is urgent.

Photo Credit – Linda Pim