REAL 2023

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 demonstrate this commitment, 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. The intention is to have 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 Foundation of BC, and the Columbia Basin Trust (for those communities within that region). 

The 2023 firm funding applications are now closed. 

REAL Job Postings for Summer 2023 are now open! Visit our REAL Job Board to find a rural firm and gain invaluable experience this summer.  

For more information, please contact

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

A High Needs Community is 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. 
  • There is a relatively small total population.
  • The community or legal service area has very few lawyers relative to its population.

REAL BC acknowledges that while 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 2021 High Needs Communities. We strongly encourage lawyers in these communities or those who serve these communities to apply.

*If you do not see your community on the list we still encourage you to apply! 

High Needs Communities:

  • Houston/Burns Lake/Vanderhoof
  • Fort Nelson/Fort St. John
  • Quesnel
  • Haida Gwaii
  • Powell River
  • Golden/Invermere/Sparwood/Elksford
  • Nakusp/Kaslo
  • Grand Forks/Castlegar
  • Osoyoos/Oliver (Okanagan Similikameen Regional District)
  • Port Alberni/Ucluelet/Tofino
  • Port Hardy and points north of Campbell River