The Eugene Dupuch Law School Legal Aid Clinic serves as a training facility for students of the Law School and is operated for the benefit of persons who, in the opinion of the Director, are unable to afford the services of a practitioner in private practice.
At the Clinic, second year students completing the Legal Aid course provide legal services to members of the public under the supervision of trained attorneys. Here, students are fully involved in the day-to-day management of client matters and, where matters involve litigation, are required to attend court with the supervising attorney. While Clinic attendance is compulsory for second year students, first year students are free to attend the Clinic and assist where necessary.
The Legal Aid Clinic also facilitates several specialist law clinics through which students are exposed to specialist areas of legal practice including Environmental Law, Commercial & Financial Services Law, Criminal Law and Human Rights Law. In selecting matters for the Clinic and designing the specialist law clinics, due regard is given to matters of national and educational interest and practical value to students.
As part of its mandate to sensitise law students of their duty to be of service to their community, the Legal Aid Clinic also hosts free community legal aid clinics and free lectures to increase awareness of legal matters.
The Clinic is operated by a Director, Mrs. Nicole Sutherland King who is assisted by full-time faculty members.
The Legal Aid Clinic located at the Eugene Dupuch Law School City Corporate Centre, Rosetta St., Palmdale and is open to the public: Monday – Friday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The Legal Aid Clinic also hosts several specialist law clinics which expose students to various niche areas of the law and to industry participants.
COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL SERVICES LAW CLINIC
The Commercial and Financial Services Clinic introduces student participants to various aspects of commercial practice including commercial and non-profit company incorporation, contract drafting, arbitration and negotiation, community economic development, intellectual property and other transactional legal services.
Legal services offered through the Clinic provide students with hands-on experience and prepares them for the transition into the complex and diverse practice of commercial and financial services law. Students also have opportunities to partner with industry stakeholders, including financial service providers and regulators to acquire a deeper understanding into how those providers and regulators function and the role they play in industry.
One of the highlights of the Clinic is a Trust Law Moot which is presented in partnership with STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) Bahamas. Students are assigned to competing law firms to work alongside the firms’ attorneys in researching, drafting and litigating a trust law problem before a bench comprising judges and leading lawyers in the trust field.
When the Clinic concludes, the students are expected to have attained a holistic experience designed to assist with their evolution into competent attorneys.
The Criminal Law Clinic provides students a unique opportunity to explore the workings of the criminal justice system and get a taste of criminal law advocacy while still in law school.
Participating students will explore the legislative framework underpinning criminal practice and procedure in the context of its application in the day-to-day running of the criminal justice system. This theoretical review is complemented by the opportunity to work on active criminal matters in the Legal Aid Clinic under the supervision of legal counsel. Outside the Legal Aid Clinic, students will visit key legal institutions concerned with the administration of the criminal justice system to familiarise themselves with the role that each institution plays. Students are also given opportunities to meet with criminal law practitioners in both formal and social settings to gain practical insight into the role of the advocate and begin to build their professional network.
Recognizing the need for greater public awareness of individual fundamental rights and the rights of an arrestee from the time of arrest through the end of trial, students in the Criminal Law Clinic conceptualize and execute outreach projects to educate the community about their rights and the basic workings of the criminal court system.
The Bahamas is known for its pristine beaches, clear blue waters and flora and fauna. Comprised of over 700 low-lying islands and cays and spanning over 100,000 square miles of ocean, this archipelagic nation is also known for its vulnerability to climate change and other external factors which threaten its ecosystems, its economic livelihood and, indeed, the very existence of its people.
The main objective of the Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) is therefore to protect, preserve and conserve the vulnerable natural resources and environment of The Bahamas. The ELC seeks to attain this objective by reviewing existing laws and policies, proposing amendments to existing laws and policies, contributing to the development of new environmental laws and policies, and raising public awareness of the value of our natural resources and the environment.
Following its inception in 2014, the ELC was engaged by The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation to provide recommendations and policy advice on drafting legislation to protect coral reefs. The ELC is presently assisting The Bahamas National Trust with drafting by-laws for the national parks to legislate the behaviour and activities which are permitted or prohibited within the parks.
Students in the ELC have a special opportunity to further develop their legal research and writing skills by working on the annual Country Report which is published in the prestigious ejournal of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The Report comments on interesting environmental developments within The Bahamas.
Public awareness of environmental issues is promoted through publications in the local newspaper, participation in workshops, and presentations to various groups in the local community.
Through engagement with the various projects of the ELC, students are exposed to a wide range of environmental concerns that include pollution control, illegal and unregulated fishing, climate change, planning development, natural resource conservation and management and constitutional and public law protections.
The Human Rights Specialist Clinic aims to provide students with hands-on experience working on common human rights issues and projects. The training which the Clinic sets out to impart is grounded in real-world advocacy. Students work in partnership with each other and with the community, in order to engage in human rights activism.
The focus of the Clinic is not only on fundamental international human rights and constitutional rights, but also on other rights that arise within the wider socio-legal sphere, such as access to housing and clean water. The Clinic aims also to inform and bring about some degree of positive change or awareness in relation to selected human and social rights issues. In order to achieve the goals of the Clinic, students engage in legal research and writing, as well as public education and public speaking, all of which form the basis for the assessment of their performance in the Clinic.