TRU Law students shadow B.C. court judges

While most students took a break or went home over reading break, 22 students from TRU Law spent the week shadowing B.C. judges.

The students spent the day in groups of three, with two lower-level students and one upper-level student discussing the judicial system with their assigned judge. For second-year Greg von Euw, his experience was different from most students’, as his assigned Judge, Leonard S. Marchand was stationed in Merritt.

“My favourite part about it was the judge himself picked us up and drove us to and from Merritt that day, which essentially meant we got an hour of uninterrupted [one-on-one time with the judge],” von Euw said.

The judge shadowing program allowed students the chance to meet judges and see them in their day-to-day work environment, an opportunity not provided by regular law school classes. The program allowed students to get access to justice issues, see the operations of the courtroom firsthand and learn from the judges. Von Euw said that the experience provided him with an understanding of how the justice system works better than he would have had from just taking classes.

The program was created by TRU Law’s Judge in Residence, retired Justice Richard Blair with the help of Director of Career Services Christi McAuley.

“I think this is an unparalleled opportunity for students to actually meet with a judge, talk to a judge, get a feeling of how decisions are made. In particular, [this is] going to help them when they’re in court later to understand how the judicial process works from the judge’s perspective,” McAuley said.

According to Justice Blair, the program gives students a “proximity, closeness and realization of what these people are.” The program allows students to see “what the judges do and how they do it,” Justice Blair said.

The program is available to any law student at TRU. With no application necessary, the opportunity to get face-to-face time with a judge is accessible to all the students. Priority is given to third-year students and those who haven’t done the program before. The opportunity has allowed students such as von Euw to get valuable advice and knowledge about the court system they’d otherwise never be exposed to.

For students participating in the judge shadowing programs, the advice will leave a lasting impression on them as they continue their educations.

“Remind yourself at all times that you’re a person at the end of the day. So are your clients and the people that might come before you looking for justice. It’s really important not to forget that fact because it can so easily and quickly become a debate about numbers, a debate about money. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these are real people and real people’s lives,” von Euw said when asked what the best advice he received from the program was.

The program is set to run again, for the third time, next February during reading break. Justice Blair and Christi McAuley intend for this opportunity to become an annual program for TRU Law students.

Editor’s note: The original version (and print version) of this article misspelled the last name of Greg von Euw. It has been corrected in the above version of the story.