About the Program

Garibaldi Lake, BC
Photo credit: Wilson Macdonald

Program Description

CELL provides students with opportunities to reflect upon and develop the legal toolkit necessary to be advocates in complex litigation. During the program, students learn about litigation through a variety of active cases that serve as learning vehicles to highlight evidentiary, procedural, and ethical issues that arise. Through weekly seminars and workshops, CELL students explore such questions as the following:

  • How do I develop a legal strategy for a case?
  • What kind of evidence would be needed to support the legal strategy?
  • How do I obtain such evidence?
  • How do I manage and work with clients?
  • How do lawyers collaborate on a large team?
  • What ethical and professional conduct issues should I be aware of when running a complex litigation file?

Through our program, students have learned first-hand about Canada’s only national, youth-led climate lawsuit, La Rose v Canada, in which fifteen young Canadians are suing the federal government for its contribution to the climate emergency. CELL students were also closely involved in the precedent-setting case Todsen v. Morse, 2022 BCSC 1341, in which the British Columbia Supreme Court affirmed that the Protection of Public Participation Act (PPPA) affords robust protection for citizens advocating for environmental conservation, in the first environmental SLAPP suit to be litigated since the enactment of B.C.’s anti-SLAPP legislation. CELL students have also gained valuable lessons through working on an application seeking a ruling that confirms the continued existence of common law riparian rights to water quality in the context of a water pollution claim against a B.C. municipality.

Program Expectations

Successful applicants will be expected to attend weekly meetings via Zoom, complete assigned readings, and engage in seminar discussions.


In each active term, the program consists of weekly seminars (usually 1.5 hours per seminar over 8-10 weeks). Seminars are conducted virtually via Zoom and are led by Chris Tollefson (Executive Director) and Anthony Ho (Program Coordinator). CELL collaborates with law firms and lawyers to use real cases that they are working on for use in CELL’s seminars; therefore, these sessions frequently include distinguished guests, who are renowned academics and practitioners in environmental law and provide a wealth of knowledge in both environmental litigation and career development.

Course Credit

Students enroll and participate in CELL’s program as a purely extracurricular activity, and acceptance into the CELL program does not confer course credit.

However, some students have been able to obtain academic credit from their home law schools through existing externships/internships or other law school courses for their work with CELL. If you wish to work with CELL through an internship or fellowship program offered in your law school, or through some directed research unit, we would be happy to work with you to see whether we can meet whatever requirements are in place so that you can obtain academic credit.