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Sask. commits funds to put law students in rural work placements


The Government of Saskatchewan is making a move it hopes will help rural residents gain better access to the justice system.

The province is committing $100,000 to help students at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law work in different communities during their work placements.

"We're seeing perhaps fewer lawyers in rural Saskatchewan," Minister of Justice Bronwyn Eyre said shortly after making the announcement.

"We feel that as the ministry, we should be trying to attract students to that public sector practice."

Students will be able to have some living expenses covered during their semesters away from class to work in areas like public prosecutions, the Ministry of Justice and legal aid in rural communities.

With many northern and rural residents unable to get timely access to courts or meet with lawyers that may be hours away from where they live, the province hopes this not only allows more students to work outside of private firms, but also helps communities where there are shortages or long delays.

"This is a first for us," said Jayne Mallin, Legal Aid Saskatchewan CEO.

"Our lawyers are excited about this as well. The opportunity to provide that good mentorship to students, and hopefully encourage people to stay with Legal Aid in practice and also consider those small, rural and remote opportunities."

College of Law dean Martin Phillipson says the college has been fundraising actively, looking to build on experiences outside of class and add more learning placements as opposed to purely academic learning, and this will help accomplish that goal.

"We already do a good deal, but we need to do more," he said. "We need to provide a range of opportunities. Our students go to many, many different places and many, many different types of practice and we need to provide them with opportunities to experience those."

Phillipson says many rural communities in Saskatchewan are interested and eager to recruit young lawyers, and having a program like this is something to build on.

Eyre said the funding commitment is meant to be annual, with hopes of increasing the province's investment in the coming years.

Cody Yuskiw is a student who is preparing to graduate this spring. He never imagined working in a courtroom, let alone in the public sector of the justice system. After responding to a job placement after his first year of classes, he was excited to be able to engage with the public and directly affect people's lives.

Within three weeks, he was in court running trials as a prosecutor and feels that experience has helped him immensely.

"I could see change, I could see people thanking me and I could see people's lives altered for the better through my work with the ministry," he said. "That's something that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else." Top Stories

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