First-year law students kicked off 2023 with a novel learning experience: a three-day practical course on working with vulnerable clients, offered in partnership with the McGill School of Social Work (MSSW).

“Professional education in fields such as social work and medicine is very intentional about preparing students for their eventual interactions with clients,” Dean Robert Leckey said. “We wanted to try out offering a condensed version of this teaching to our students.”


Social Work Professor Alicia Boatswain-Kyte
Professor Alicia Boatswain-Kyte of the McGill School of Social Work researches the systemic oppression of racialized individuals and how this contributes to their unequal representation within systems of social control.


McGill Social Work Professors Alicia Boatswain-Kyte and Pam Orzeck accepted his invitation to collaborate. They recruited facilitators and put together a program of plenaries, small group discussions, role play, and site visits through which 1L students got to develop their soft skills, and reflect on vulnerability and trauma-informed legal practice.

« Je ne m’attendais pas à ce type d’atelier en commençant [ma formation juridique] et c’est cela que je trouve fascinant » a partagé l’étudiante Leslie Mbimbi. Tenant à cœur la cause des femmes en situation d’itinérance, elle a choisi de faire sa visite de terrain à l’organisme de soutien communautaire Chez Doris.

“This week really highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary learning, and how shared spaces between lawyers and social workers allow for more effective services for our most marginalized members of society,” Professor Boatswain-Kyte underscored.

Ce cours a été offert dans le cadre de la semaine d’intégration, qui se tient au début de chaque session de la première année du programme BCL/JD. Pendant cette semaine, les cours réguliers sont suspendus afin d’offrir à la cohorte de première année des programmes intensifs permettant d’enrichir leur formation juridique.


Photos par Owen Egan/Joni Dufour