Due to the existing COVID-19 protocols, REAL was only able to place students that were already living in the communities where they will work.  Consequently, two REAL placements were made for the summer of 2020.  The other firms that received funding approval in 2020, will be given first opportunity for the 2021 summer program.

The Rural Education and Access to Lawyers Initiative (REAL) is committed to assisting law firms and practitioners in small communities and rural areas of British Columbia to recruit, hire and retain law students and new lawyers.

To this end, REAL has established the Summer Student Placement Program specifically designed to place second year law students in summer employment with law firms in High Needs Communities, with the goal of having those students return to article and ultimately practice in those communities. This exciting initiative is delivered by the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch (CBABC) and is made possible by funding from the Law Society of BC and the Law Foundation of BC.

Law Firms and Practitioners: Thank you for your interest in the REAL program. Your support provides a tremendous opportunity for second year law students to gain valuable experience and possibly help them to practice in rural communities throughout the province. Learn more about this opportunity.


  • Funding for 2nd year summer law student placements in High Needs Communities across British Columbia;
  • Support for students who are interested in practicing in rural and small communities;
  • Support for law firms and practitioners with recruiting, hiring and retaining students and new lawyers in rural and small communities.

High needs communities are defined by a set of criteria relating to the level of access to legal services (and access to justice) in the area, including the following:

  • There is high, unmet demand for local lawyers that provide legal aid services. 
  • Generally, a high needs community has a relatively small total population.
  • The community or legal service area has very few lawyers relative to its population.

REAL BC acknowledges that availability of face-to-face legal services in the community is a significant indicator of access to justice in any given community. Statistics alone cannot completely define a high needs community or legal service area. So it is necessary to consider the following other factors:

  • Are the local lawyers meeting the demand for services?
  • Are the local lawyers providing the type of legal services that the community needs?
  • Are the local lawyers available?
  • Are there lawyers who live in the community but do not practice in that community?
  • Does the community or legal service area have access to Court/judicial resources? 
  • Does the community provide services to surrounding communities that have no lawyers?  In that case, there will usually be a higher level of demand for legal services beyond what the lawyers per population ratio indicates.

Note: The criteria set out above are for guideline purposes only. They are not intended to be standalone criteria. Not all criteria need be satisfied before a community will be considered to be “high needs”. 


Below is a list of the REAL 2020 High Needs Communities. We strongly encourage firms in these communities or firms that serve these communities to apply.

High Needs Communities:

  • Castlegar
  • Fort Nelson
  • Haida Gwaii
  • Hazelton
  • Houston
  • Kitimat
  • Lumby
  • Merritt
  • Port Alberni
  • Powell River
  • Quesnel
  • Ucluelet/Tofino
  • Vanderhoof

There are several legal service areas throughout BC that may also qualify for full or partial funding and will be determined on a case by case basis. The communities that fall under this category include:

  • Golden
  • Invermere
  • Nakusp/Kaslo
  • North Vancouver Island
  • Summerland

Second year law students are invited to fill out a REAL Student Contact Form to ensure they receive updates about the program, including notifications about job postings.

Students are also encouraged to seek out opportunities with law firms in our Identified High Needs Communities.


Chances of being placed in a law firm increase significantly when the law firm submits an application for funding and identifies the preferred student.

Law Firms and Practitioners: Thank for your interest in the REAL program (do we need add more here: eg your support provides a tremendous outreach opportunity for second year law students to assist and support local communities). Learn more about this opportunity.

Funding applications are no longer being accepted for 2020.  Firms that were approved for funding for 2020 and not able to hire a student due to COVID-19 restrictions will be given priority for 2021 funding.  Any firms interested in taking part in 2021, click here to receive updates