Migrant Farmworkers Clinic and Seminar

For the Winter 2023 term, the Migrant Farmworks Clinic is on haitus. 


Around 24000-34000 migrant agricultural workers work in Ontario farms every year, with Essex county and southwestern Ontario employing a majority of these workers. Migrant workers, as a racialized and marginalized group in precarious status, face numerous forms of exclusion and discrimination. The legal regime that affects migrant workers functions at the complex intersection of immigration law, international bilateral agreements, employment law, workers compensation law, human rights law, health law, food law, law and political economy of agriculture, among others. Effective representation involves advocacy inside and outside the legal system using diverse and multiple techniques and tools and working with a multiplicity of actors including lawyers, the community, advocacy groups, social services organisations, government agencies, enforcement agencies etc. 


The Migrant Farm Worker Clinic is an LFO-funded project by Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) to provide legal assistance to migrant farm workers.  It is the first legal clinic for migrant farm workers in Canada using a "law and organising" framework.  It is unique in offering a singular place for migrant farm workers in the area that will address their complex, intersectional needs.


This clinical course will provide substantive knowledge on Migrant Work Law and offer an opportunity to provide assistance in administering the clinic and advocating for migrant workers. Students will have the opportunity to prepare legal reports for wider publication, provide support for legal education and organising migrant farmworkers in the region, and may be able to assist in any major ongoing cases if and when cases arise during the semester.


For students, it is an important and novel avenue to get a holistic understanding of access to justice organizing, community engagement, and poverty law.  Students will learn how different areas of law intersect to produce legal marginalization, the policy and social environment around agricultural labour and immigration, and strategies on representing and advocating for migrant workers and similarly disadvantaged persons.


Students will attend a weekly seminar course which will provide academic knowledge and advocacy training in the areas of law that affect migrant farmworkers. This will include an overview of the challenges in representing migrant workers and advocating for their rights as well as the basics of immigration and refugee law, employment law, discrimination law, workers compensation law, and international law and policy in the context of migrant work.


Students will be expected to assist in advocacy and outreach for migrant workers, employment and immigration cases, legal research and investigations,  and in preparing and publicizing legal education materials.


IMPORTANT: In addition to the weekly seminar, students will be expected to attend the summary advice and outreach clinic in Leamington on three or four Sundays during the term (approximately from 2pm-7pm) and support the administration of the clinic. Transportation help will be provided. This is a unique experience to engage directly with migrant farm workers who work in the Leamington area farms.


2L and 3L students are eligible to apply. Students are notified by email of application details and can apply using the online Application Form

Applications Include:

  1. A letter of intent addressing the following:
    1. Any experience in social justice/rights advocacy for migrant workers or other vulnerable populations.
    2. Any relevant courses you have taken in or outside of law school that address immigration, racial discrimination, global justice, employment, health, etc.
    3. Why is advocacy for migrant farm workers important to you?
    4. What is your interest in law and organising and social justice?
    5. What do you hope to achieve by enrolling in this clinic?
  2. Resume/CV
  3. Unofficial transcripts including those from your prior degrees (undergraduate/graduate)

Duration: Fall term and Winter Term
Credits: 3 per Fall term 4 per Winter term

Evaluation: Numerical Grade
Pre-requisite: No pre-requisite but knowledge of immigration law, racial discrimination and human rights, employment law, and global justice and labour migration issues is recommended. Community advocacy experience will be useful.

Number of students: 10

Evaluation will be based on:

  1. Active participation in the Seminar and on-site Clinic in Leamington
  2. Clinical work including assistance with legal cases, advocacy, and organising under the supervision of the clinic lawyer and organiser
  3. Brief reflection papers/blogs and a final paper or community project

Contact Professor Venkatesh for further information.

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