Legal information services offer a roadmap through the system 

By Karen Herland

At some point, most of us are faced with landlord problems, or suspected discrimination, or paying back student loans, or estate planning.

If so, you can make an appointment at the Advocacy and Support Services Legal Information Services office. The clinic is open 24 hours a week during the academic year in Loyola’s AD-120.

Brent K. Hussey is taking time out of his private practice to supervise the six upper-level McGill law students who each devote eight hours a week (four for client meetings and four for research) to staffing the office. The students earn academic credit at McGill for their participation.

“The students meet with the client. Afterwards, they enter the facts and the client’s questions, into a database,” Hussey explained. Then they begin the research.

“The major task is determining the facts of the situation,” Hussey said. He has been a member of the bar since 1980, and started working at Loyola in June of this year, bringing prior experience as director of McGill’s campus legal information clinic. “Often the questions the client poses are not the proper questions — they just see a small piece of the pie.”

The students then set to work determining what information is needed. Hussey checks in informally with the group quite frequently and is available by cell phone for emergency situations.

Interns meet with the client again two weeks later. “They don’t offer legal advice, just information that is publicly available,” Hussey said. While it is available, the information may not be easily accessible or clear to the layperson. Hussey said most situations are resolved by the second meeting.

Since Quebec uses civil law, many situations are very different here than from the rest of Canada, where common law is used. Hussey said there are provincial variations as well.

“You can get information on common-law relationships on the internet, but if it’s from B.C. or Ontario, it is not applicable here.”

People also come to the office for help preparing a case for the rental board, or for small claims court. Simply having someone familiar with the process can make it much easier.

During the summer and exam periods, Hussey staffs the offices himself one afternoon a week.

All members of Concordia’s community, from students and faculty to staff and alumni, are welcome. For more information, go to:


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