Parkdale Community Legal Services celebrates its 40th anniversary

40 Years of collaborationForty years of free legal advice and support for positive social change will be front and centre this afternoon during a street party honouring Parkdale Community Legal Services.

Former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall, an alumna of Parkdale Community Legal Services, will kick off the community street party at 2:30pm. More than 200 Parkdale alumni along with Hall and Lorne Sossin, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, will join the clinic’s clients, partner agencies, neighbours and guests at the 40th anniversary party to be held at the corner of Queen Street West and Noble Street in downtown Toronto.

Opened in 1971 as a project of Osgoode Hall Law School, Parkdale Community Legal Services was established as the first free storefront legal clinic in Ontario. Through a combination of community outreach and organizing, law reform and litigation, the clinic grew to become an effective voice for low-income, marginalized and racialized communities, eventually serving as a model for the Legal Aid Ontario system of clinic, which now numbers more than 75 across the province.

The festivities kick off at 2:30pm, with a cake-cutting ceremony at 4:45pm. At 7pm, the clinic will host a reunion party for some 200 alumni.

The little clinic that could saw more than 4,200 clients in 2010 and has grown to include four divisions: Landlord & Tenant, Immigration, Worker’s Rights, and Social Assistance, Violence & Health. Each year, 40 students from Osgoode Hall Law School participate in the law school’s intensive program in poverty law at the clinic. The clinic has and continues to play an important role in test case litigation at the Supreme Court of Canada. It has an active collaboration with the Worker’s Action Centre exposing the prevalence of violations of the Employment Standards Act in Ontario. Each year, Parkdale Community Legal Services in partnership with the Parkdale Tenant’s Association, present the Golden Cockroach Award to one of the community’s slum landlords.

For more information, visit the Parkdale Community Legal Services website, or better yet, come out and join this afternoon’s street party.