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Tribune Explains: The Legal Information Clinic at McGill

The Legal Information Clinic at McGill (LICM) aims to help students with anything from accusations of plagiarism to navigating disputes with landlords. The McGill Tribune looked into this campus resource and all the legal issues the LICM’s volunteer staffers can help students address. 

What is the Legal Information Clinic at McGill? 

The LICM is a bilingual, free legal information service. Located on the main floor of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) University Centre building, the LICM provides legal information to McGill students and the Montreal community. It also helps with student advocacy, such as representing students in disputes with McGill, and community services, such as hosting public legal education pop-up booths. The LICM’s team consists of approximately 90 caseworkers and student advocates and six directors who manage the clinic. Though staffed by McGill law students, the LICM is an independent organization.

What types of legal issues can the LICM help with? 

The LICM can provide legal information on a broad range of issues, including housing, employment, immigration, municipal law and by-laws, and more. Providing legal information is different from advising. LICM caseworkers can explain and cite laws, but are not allowed to recommend any course of action to students. This is because the volunteer caseworkers are law students and are prohibited from providing legal advice as per section 128 of the Act Respecting the Barreau du Québec.  

The LICM does not take on cases that deal with criminal, tax, or construction law. In an email to the Tribune, the LICM clarified that issues in these legal areas are complex and are difficult to answer competently without obtaining specific information and giving advice. However, students can turn to the LICM’s Community Resources webpage that lists relevant resources to address those matters. 

What type of advocacy can the LICM do for students? 

The student advocacy branch assists students with formal and informal dispute resolutions related to McGill. This means everything from helping students navigate McGill’s internal policies, such as the Policy against Sexual Violence (PSV) or the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (CSCDP), to facilitating negotiations between students and McGill or students and student associations. Student advocacy officers can also represent students in hearings with McGill by helping students prepare evidence and supporting documents before proceedings.  

The LICM student advocacy branch can also help navigate issues with academic supervisors, grievances against the university, and disciplinary matters. The LICM has also participated in the revision of McGill policies. For example, they helped improve the McGill PSV by commenting on it from a student-centric position in 2016 and were also consulted during its recent revisions in 2022. 

What can the LICM do for student groups?  

Through their Just Info program, the LICM can provide student groups and McGill community organizations with free legal information in the form of presentations. These presentations may be given in English or French and can range from 30 minutes to three hours. Possible topics include most areas of Quebec law, except for criminal law, tax law, and construction. While the presentations are tailored to the needs of the group, caseworkers can only offer basic legal information. 

How can students access the LICM’s services? 

Students can sign up for legal information by filling out the LICM’s form on their website. Student advocacy services can be accessed by setting up an appointment through email or by phone. 

In January, June, and September, the LICM also sets up pop-up legal information clinics on campus as part of their ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign. Members of the McGill community can walk up to the booth and ask specific legal questions to LICM volunteers, which they will then try to respond to immediately. The specific dates, times, and locations of pop-up booths are posted on the LICM’s social media accounts. 

The Legal Information Clinic at McGill can be reached at 514-398-6792 or at [email protected].

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