50 Years of CLAS

50 Years of CLAS2021-07-12T17:14:19-07:00

CLAS Celebrates 50 Years Fighting for Justice

On March 29, 2021, CLAS begins a year-long celebration of 50 years of fighting for social justice. CLAS was incorporated as a non-profit legal aid society in Vancouver in 1971, evolving from a law student group that offered support to inner core residents dealing with social issues. The Vancouver Community Legal Assistance Society was the first community law office in B.C., founded by then up-and-coming lawyer and social activist Mike Harcourt, who later became Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of B.C. Mr. Harcourt was the first Executive Director of CLAS, followed by the late Ian Waddell, who went on to serve as a B.C. MLA and federal MP.

Our History

From our origins as a three-person storefront operation on East Broadway in 1971 to our exponential growth to a 40+ person organization in downtown Vancouver, CLAS has seen many changes over the years. Today, CLAS is a nationally recognized non-profit law firm, assisting thousands of disadvantaged people each year with legal help and advice on housing security, income security, workers’ rights, mental health rights, and human rights. CLAS has conducted hundreds of test and systemic cases at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. CLAS has provided counsel on hundreds of reported decisions in the areas of law in which we practice and we are also a resource to advocates, community groups, and lawyers throughout the province.  Explore more here.

Our Cases

CLAS’s legal work has been at the forefront of the social justice landscape for the past 50 years. Our work has impacted the lives of our clients and countless others. Many of the legal tests relied on in social justice work on a daily basis had their origins in a CLAS file. Explore the legacy of our legal work here.

CLAS People – Past & Present

CLAS’s fight for justice has been sustained by a number of dedicated people over the past 50 years and in the present who we are proud to have as part of our team, partners and peers along the way, and who have worked alongside us in the social justice landscape. Explore more here.

Our Articling Students

CLAS has had the privilege of being a part of the journey to the legal profession for several students over the years. Through both our David Mossop, Q.C. Public Interested Articling Fellowship Program and in a variety of ways beyond the program, CLAS has provided articles or partial articles to an impressive group of law grads. Whether continuing their careers at CLAS or forging new paths beyond, each student has a story worth reading about. Read more.


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Our Gratitude

Thank you to our funders for their generous support of our work over the years.

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