Osgoode Hall Law School students providing legal support to refugees

Sixteen Osgoode law students are wrapping up a busy semester where they provided legal support to sponsors of Syrian refugees.

From left to right: Pierre-André Thériault (course co-instructor); Jennifer Lee, Shirley Lam, Giselle Shareei; Philip Kariam; Chelsea Caldwell; Emily Lewsen; Matthew C. Smith; Elise Mercier; Giancarlo Volpe; Katrina Gower; Joshua Patlik; Maxym Artemenko; Isabelle Owston. Absent: Kimberly Byers; Yusuf Buttar; Andrea Sobko.

Above: From left to right: Pierre-André Thériault (course co-instructor); Jennifer Lee, Shirley Lam, Giselle Shareei; Philip Kariam; Chelsea Caldwell; Emily Lewsen; Matthew C. Smith; Elise Mercier; Giancarlo Volpe; Katrina Gower; Joshua Patlik; Maxym Artemenko; Isabelle Owston. Absent: Kimberly Byers; Yusuf Buttar; and, Andrea Sobko

Through regular legal clinics organized by Lifeline Syria and the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (RSSP), the students were matched with Toronto-based pro bono lawyers and helped to complete the refugee applications of over 200 Syrian refugees.

Osgoode student Emily Lewsen and lawyer Cizan Suliman

Osgoode student Emily Lewsen and lawyer Cizan Suliman

“This was a fantastic opportunity for students to not only gain practical experience with real-life clients, but also help in a meaningful way people who find themselves in often vulnerable and desperate situations. Beyond the student experience, the initiative is a wonderful example of a law school, lawyers and the broader community coming together to respond to a humanitarian crisis”, said Pierre-André Thériault, a Toronto-based lawyer, PhD student and co-instructor of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Seminar at Osgoode.

Osgoode student Giancarlo Volpe and lawyer Alessia Kalish

Above: From left, Lawyer Alessia Kalish with Osgoode student Giancarlo Volpe

“The RSSP directed reading course provided valuable learning on many fronts and allowed me to explore refugee law in a more tangible and rewarding way than compared to learning done only within a classroom. I believe that the lessons learned from my RSSP experience will serve me well as I aspire to become a refugee lawyer in the future, beyond the specific contexts of private sponsorship or the Syrian refugee crisis”, said Jennifer Lee, a second-year JD student at Osgoode.

To learn more about other York-wide efforts building on the University’s leading engagements in the field and in the academy amidst the global refugee crisis, visit York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative .

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