Public Interest Articling Grants

The Law Foundation of British Columbia has established an budget of $910,000 to fund Public Interest Articling grants (the “PIA”s) to up to seven grantees. The purposes of these grants are to:

  • Increase opportunities for future members of the bar to engage and remain in public interest work;
  • Provide an opportunity for articles at public interest non-profit legal organizations that otherwise would not have the resources to hire an articling student; and
  • Provide increased services to communities in BC, notably to marginalized people.

A major change to this program this year:

In the interest of providing articling students with enhanced opportunities to gain a foothold and enhanced development in public interest legal practice, and of expanding the public interest work that these students are able to do, the Foundation is introducing a change to its articling grants as a pilot project.  For the first time, these two-year grants will facilitate students being hired back as a staff lawyer for one year following the successful completion of their articles.  The possibility of an additional year, we hope, will significantly improve the training experience in public interest law that new lawyers are able to gain through this program.

Funding Available

PIA grants are in the amount of up to $120,000 each (representing $60,000 per year for 2 years). This can be used in two ways:

  • Hiring two articling students in successive years; or
  • Hiring an articling student with an option to retain that individual as a staff lawyer for an additional year.  An additional amount of up-to $10,000 will be available to a PIA grantee should they wish to exercise the option of retaining the articled student as a staff lawyer in year two of the grant (a “hireback”).  The additional $10,000 is not available for other purposes.

These grants can be used for articling students starting in 2021 or 2022.

Who May Apply?

Organizations currently funded by the Foundation as an on-track or continuing grantee, where that organization does not receive funding explicitly to support an articled student as part of that on-track or continuing funding, are eligible. Note: grantees that hold a one-time (non-continuous) “PIAF” grant awarded in 2020 may contact their program director if they are interested in being considered to convert their existing grant to permit a second-year hireback extension under this revised program.

Applications where a grantee proposes sharing an articled position with another Foundation-funded organization may also be considered. A joint application will be submitted by one organization on behalf of both applicants and will be assessed as a single application.  Grantees will be responsible for obtaining approval from the Law Society for hiring an articling student and for complying with Law Society requirements.  The grant is not limited to law school graduates from Allard, UVic, or TRU.  Organizations whose applications are declined are eligible to apply for public interest articling grants in the future.

Application and Assessment Process:

The Law Foundation uses the SmartSimple online grant submission and management system. The SmartSimple Portal can be found at: https://lawfoundationbc.smartsimple.ca/

To be considered, please submit an application by March 16, 2021.

Considerations will include the following:

  • The nature and scope of the work the articling student will do;
  • The impact the student’s work will have on the organization and those it serves;
  • The experience and capacity of the proposed lawyer(s) acting as principal, and type of supervision contemplated;
  • If the organization has received a public interest articling grant, the successes and challenges with that placement;
  • The organization’s and/or the proposed principal’s history of working with law students (pro bono students, summer students, articling students or otherwise);
  • The organization’s commitment and practices in relation to equity and inclusion in hiring;
  • The organization’s plan for any secondments or arrangements with law firms or other organizations (note that these are not required);
  • The potential for employment either at the group itself or within the public interest sector generally, following articles;
  • For those organizations planning to hire a student back, the ability of the organization to accommodate this successfully;
  • The organization’s stability, overall establishment, and capacity; and
  • The number of staff lawyers or amount of ongoing legal work performed by the organization.

Applications will be adjudicated in March 2021.

Note on the new hireback scheme:

In the interest of articling students being able to plan their work and their first year of practice, the host organization must confirm that they intend to exercise the hireback option no later than the fifth month of the articling student’s employment, upon completion of the required mid-term report on the student’s progress to the Law Society, unless there are compelling reasons to delay. Should the individual not remain at the organization post-articles, for whatever reason, the grant may continue to permit hiring of a new articling student for the second year of the grant, depending on the timing and circumstances. If the individual leaves before the completion of a year at the organization as staff lawyer, the grant could be extended to allow the hiring of a second student depending on the timing and circumstances.

Have questions? Please contact your program director.

Although it is not mandatory, we strongly encourage you to contact your Foundation program director before submitting your application, to discuss the funding process and get assistance or feedback on your application.

Please note that the Foundation is anticipating more applications for PIAs than there are funds available, and submitting an application is not a guarantee of funding.