REAL 2024

The Rural Education and Access to Lawyers Initiative (REAL) is dedicated to helping small community and rural law firms in British Columbia recruit, hire, and retain law students and new lawyers.

REAL has established the Summer Student Placement Program to provide funding to rural firms to hire second year law students 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 communities within that region). 

Student applications for REAL 2024 are now closed.

If you have any inquiries regarding applications for next year, please reach out to


A High Needs Community is determined by specific criteria related to access to legal services and justice in the area, including:

  • High unmet demand for local legal aid services.
  • Relatively small total population (<10,000).
  • A lawyer to population ratio lower than 1 lawyer per 1,000 population*.

*LSBC states the provincial average of 1 lawyer per 450 people.

However, REAL BC recognizes that access to justice isn't solely defined by statistics. Other factors to consider include:

  • Whether local lawyers meet the service demand.
  • The relevance of legal services provided.
  • Availability of local lawyers.
  • Local lawyers practicing in the community.
  • Access to judicial resources.
  • Providing services to nearby communities without lawyers, which can increase demand.

Please note that these criteria are for reference; not all must be met for a community to be deemed "high needs."


Below is a list of the REAL 2023 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:

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