The Judicial Externship Program at the Peter A. Allard School of Law provides the opportunity for Allard students to gain a firsthand understanding of the court system while earning credit towards the completion of their Allard degree. This exciting innovation is unique amongst Canadian Law Schools, and the Court benefits through the research performed by students that would not otherwise be available.
The program itself was the initiative of Sharon Sutherland, faculty of the law school from 2000-2014, who worked with then Honourable Associate Chief Judge Dennis Schmidt (LLB '74) of the Provincial Court to develop the partnership. The Honourable Judge Greg Rideout, initial Program Director of the Externship Program for the Provincial Court of BC, praised the start of the program, saying "Sharon reflected the belief that the program can not only benefit students and judges, but the public at large as well by providing future lawyers with real world experience, thoroughly preparing them to serve the public."
The program accepts eight third-year students each semester, who spend 4 days each week assigned to one of the provincial courts. On Fridays, the students attend a three-hour seminar at Allard Hall. The students also receive training from judges on a variety of topics including judicial independence, judgment writing, sentencing, Youth Court, and child protection. Students' work to assist the judiciary through research, memorandum preparation, attendance at trials, and other associated tasks.
During their placement with the court, students are also able to accompany the Circuit Court to remote communities in BC. Travel costs are covered thanks to a grant from the Law Foundation of BC. The balanced combination of day to day court-related tasks with distinctive experiencesduring the Externship, such as travelling with the Court or walking a shift with the Vancouver Police Department, allows students to engage with the law in action, and on a level well outside what the classroom can offer.