PCLS plays a pivotal role in helping to build and mobilize an ever increasing community movement for social change and to create the social and economic conditions to eradicate poverty and oppression.
PCLS was founded in 1971 by Parkdale neighbourhood residents, community organizations and Osgoode Hall Law School, establishing one of the first and now largest community legal clinics in Canada. By the late 1970’s the PCLS model was adopted in other neighbourhoods that then became the community legal clinic system in Ontario. As a teaching clinic in partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School, PCLS embodies an excellence in clinical legal education. We are a non-profit charity, led by a Board of Directors with community and Osgoode Hall Law School representatives. We undertake projects and provide services based on community need and the indicia of oppression, especially poverty, racism, violence and systemic discrimination. We provide community development and engagement, legal representation, summary legal advice and community legal education.
PCLS will work with our community to tackle poverty law issues through a combination of community development, organizing and action facilitated by legal representation, summary legal advice and community legal education.
- Be welcoming and accessible to our community, working with individuals and groups who encounter barriers in accessing legal services
- Engage in community organizing, campaigns and projects and provide services based on community needs. We fight against oppression, poverty, racism, violence and systemic discrimination in all its forms
- Provide, in partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, the opportunity for law students to work in a poverty law clinic, while helping them develop a critical understanding of: systemic poverty, its causes and effects; the legal system’s and lawyers’ responses to poverty; and alternative strategies for intervention to alleviate poverty by the legal system and lawyers
- Assess and respond to the needs of the community and evaluate the effectiveness of our programs, projects and services.
- In community based and governed poverty law services
- In the agency of our community members and their ability to determine what’s best for their lives
- In treating people with dignity, respect and compassion
- That access to justice is a right
- That traditional legal strategies are of limited utility in working to eradicate poverty
in respecting equally the work done by, and the role of, each member of the team.
- In working collaboratively with the community while offering a variety of poverty law services.
- In engaging and actively participating in the community to facilitate and create social and economic conditions that will eradicate poverty and oppression
- In an anti-racist, anti-oppressive approach that understands and adheres to the racial, cultural and social needs of our community
- In being committed to advancing racial, cultural and social equity in our work with the community
PCLS is partnered with support from Osgoode Hall Law School and receives core funding from Legal Aid Ontario.