Behind the scenes: What it’s like to be an Ecojustice summer student

Ecojustice summer student Ksenia Orehova (left) and her mentor, lawyer Olivia French. Photo by Emily Chan.

Every summer, Ecojustice offices across Canada open their doors to some of the country’s most promising lawyers-to-be.

This year, Ecojustice summer students attended a review panel on a project that threatens Southern Resident killer whales and wild salmon, got a behind-the-scenes look at the climate reference cases in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and helped shape upcoming cases you can expect to hear more about in the upcoming year.

As we bid our students goodbye and good luck with their studies in their final year of law school, here’s a look at Ecojustice through their eyes:

Kate Meagher (Halifax)

Dalhousie Environmental Law student Kate Meagher spent the summer working in Ecojustice’s Halifax law office. In her free time, Kate is a competitive weightlifter and loves climbing, hiking, and exploring beautiful Nova Scotia.

Reflecting on her experience with Ecojustice, Kate said she was particularly struck by how deeply the lawyers care about their work and clients.

“It was a happy surprise to see how close folks here are with the communities we represent and how we are able to support them outside of just presenting arguments in court,” she said.

“I remember one conversation in particular between Ecojustice lawyers and a community member in Shelbourne (N.S.). The two lawyers were smiling so broadly at the speakerphone. I was struck by how keen they were to help her in her endeavour and by how different that support looked from what I’d come to think of as a lawyer’s job.”

Kate added, “Something I’ve learned is to show compassion to the people we encounter. People are deeply affected by their experiences and are seeking help facing them. Even if their issue is outside of our mandate, it never hurts to provide a kind word.”

Belema Itamunoala (Ottawa)

Belema Itamunoala is Master of Laws candidate at the University of Ottawa. This summer, Belema also worked in the Ecojustice law clinic at the University of Ottawa. In her free time, Belema loves board games, especially Scrabble and chess.

During her time with Ecojustice, Belema said she learned many valuable lessons from her mentor, lawyer Joshua Ginsberg.

“Joshua Ginsberg was such a great mentor! He’s the true definition of a leader. He balanced empathy and politeness with delegation and he always made sure I understood every task assigned to me and assisted if I didn’t. His cheerful nature helped to maintain a good atmosphere for learning.

“Josh involved me in the carbon pricing reference cases in Saskatchewan and Ontario, which helped me build a wealth of knowledge on this topic. Overall, I am thankful for Josh’s mentorship, as it fostered a learning atmosphere for me.” MORE

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