Access to Justice for All? Artists and Creatives have been overlooked Part II

Written by Emily Palmer

Part 2 of this series discusses improving access to justice for artists, creatives, arts and cultural organizations who have been overlooked community.


This summer, the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic at the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba, has been operating at full speed, providing free legal information and advice to business clients across Manitoba who cannot afford legal assistance.

In January 2021, the Business Law Clinic became a member of the National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts and the Manitoba hub within the network, to provide free legal information and advice to creators and makers who need a lawyer or who are unable to access legal supports.

The National Network of Legal Clinics for the Arts is a system of interconnected legal hubs specifically for artists and arts organizations. Its mission is to connect legal professionals, students, and other organizations who are interested in creating access to justice for artists and arts organizations. This role was taken on by the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic, as there was no specific legal clinic for the arts in Manitoba.

In August, the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law will be launching a new Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts, the only pro bono legal clinic in Manitoba that will provide tailored services to makers, artists, and arts and culture communities. The clinic will be operated by law students who, through the supervision of experienced lawyers, will provide assistance in legal areas such as copyrights, trademarks, privacy policies, contracts, organizational governance, and much more. This new Arts Clinic initiative is generously funded by the Manitoba Law Foundation.

Kassandra Taverner, a law student working at the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic noted the importance of the new Arts Clinic.

“As both an artist and law student, improving access to justice for creatives, including protecting their rights and works, is to empower creative minds to do what they do best – create — without the heavy weight of legal complexities,” says Kassandra.

“It’s about protecting, supporting, and celebrating the wonderful creatives who bring so much meaning and joy to our lives.”

Providing access to justice in Manitoba is an ongoing issue that law students have been introduced to through the Juris Doctor program at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law. Students have discussed the need and dedication required to provide equal access to justice for everyone, regardless of any social, economic, or other circumstance.

Just like a right to education, clean water, health care, freedom of thought, expression, and self-identity — access to justice should not be the right enjoyed by the few that can afford to hire lawyers.

Emily Palmer, a law student also working at the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic for the summer, emphasized the integral gap-filling potential of the new Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts.

“As we have learned of the need to provide improved access to justice for creatives in our Province, I am reminded of the power of story. To assist makers and artists by protecting the medium in which they choose to share their stories is a rewarding feeling,” says Emily.

“Whether that be in the form of writing, broadcasting, dancing, designing clothing, or any other genre, providing support to protect any method of storytelling is a compelling reason to provide tailored legal support to those in need.”

Lisa Haydey, a law student working at the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic for the summer, emphasizes the opportunity that law students have in providing free legal help to others, including those in the arts and culture communities.

“As law students, we are passionate about learning about the law, but also learning to be meaningful problem solvers. This includes providing help to arts communities and providing artists with access to legal services. It’s incredible to have this opportunity and it’s important that we all support our creative community” says Lisa.

“At the L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic, we have learned through the supervision of experienced lawyers to help business clients tackle their legal questions. Through the new Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts, law students can bring the same dedication and creativity to future clients — artists and creatives in need of legal assistance across Manitoba.”  


The Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts is also an opportunity for lawyers to also get involved. The Clinic offers a unique and exciting space for new or experienced lawyers to participate in law student training, networking, mentorship, and collaboration by meaningfully supporting student-provided pro bono services for creatives. Lawyers can ensure appropriate advice is given to a diverse range of client needs, as the Arts world can also be a unique and challenging area of the law.

Practicing lawyers can contribute to this new Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts in a variety of ways:

Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts – Lawyers in private practice or in-house legal departments can volunteer as supervising lawyers and legal mentors to support student work on Clinic matters.

Legal Education, Resources, and Clinic Events – The new Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts encourages dialogue with artists, arts, cultural, and other organizations that do not have a lawyer and cannot afford legal assistance. The Clinic may engage with clients through workshops, webinars, forums, and conferences. Volunteer lawyers can support the Arts Clinic’s activities by providing speakers for parties that request educational support on arts-related subjects.

Lawyer Referral List – Lawyers with expertise in a particular area of law may be interested in being added to the Arts Law Clinic’s lawyer referral list, which may be provided to clients who have legal matters that are too complex to be addressed through the Clinic by law students. Additions to the referral list are at the discretion of the Arts Clinic instructors and Dean of the Faculty of Law.

To help be part of the solution, start by filling out a volunteer intake form on our website here. If you reside outside of Manitoba, consider getting involved with another clinic that is part of the National Network of Legal Clinic for the Arts.

As students, we appreciate that time is limited and a precious resource. To learn more about how you can make an impact by contributing to inspiring the next generation of problem solvers and empowering change through the form of a donation, click here.


The arts and culture communities mustn’t go overlooked, but rather celebrated and supported. They make up an integral component of our society because of their tremendous reach, existence, and impact. The wonderful aspect about art and creativity is that it does not have any limits.

Creativity may be in a story to ignite change, a way to practice vulnerability, or perhaps to serve as a platform for a voice that has been silenced throughout time. It could be a dance, a song, a film, or a sculpture to illustrate an experience, a thought, or a collection of memories. It might even be a way to remember those who have passed or a sentiment to warn us about our future. Regardless, there is something that all forms of creativity have in common: it holds the power to make people feel valued, heard, understood, and connected.

The access to justice issue for artists and makers in our Province deserves our assistance, further discussion, and needed action. By turning a blind eye to artists who need help ignores a vast group of people, eager to share their stories in whichever method that they choose. It’s time to start acting for a sector that has been left out. Because without creativity, we really don’t have much at all.

The views expressed in these blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba and should not be construed as legal advice or endorsement.

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