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.

2019 REAL funding applications are now closed.

Firms interested in receiving information about the 2020 funding year: Please fill out this form.

Law Firms and Practitioners

Law Students interested in Summer 2020 Placement: Please fill out this form.

Law Students


  • 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 2019 High Needs Communities.  This is by no means an exhaustive list. 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. Inquiries regarding communities on the North Coast, Northern BC and the North Island are strongly encouraged. 

High Needs Communities:

  • Castlegar
  • Comox
  • Fort St. John
  • Grand Forks
  • Hazelton
  • Kitimat
  • Lumby
  • Merritt
  • Nakusp / Kaslo
  • Oliver/Osoyoos
  • Port Hardy
  • Port Alberni
  • Prince Rupert
  • Summerland
  • Tofino/Ucluelet

Second year law students are invited to fill out a REAL Student Application 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. Your chances of being placed are much higher if the law firm submits an application for funding and identifies you are their preferred student! 

Law Firms and Practitioners: Thank for your interest in the REAL program. Learn more about this opportunity.

The deadline for 2019 REAL funding is February 20, 2019. Firms who submit applications will hear from us by March 5.