Building community through TRU CLC with Kelly Melnyk – TRU Newsroom
TRU Alum Kelly Melnyk is now the supervising lawyer at the TRU Community Legal Clinic (CLC). Looking for sunshine and beautiful outdoors, Melnyk found herself applying to study at the TRU Faculty of Law school. Her journey began in the fall of 2013, the first time TRU Faculty of Law had a complete law school complement. From there, she joined the REAL program run by CBABC for her summer articling with Deuling & Company in Lumby, BC. Her passion for providing the community access to justice and breaking down barriers for those with limited resources began there, where she focused on criminal, estate, and general civil litigation.
Right from the start, the business side of the law was never appealing to her. While articling and then working as an associate with Joe Dueling in Lumby, she was inspired to help her local community. After about two and a half years of being in Lumby, she and her husband started a hops farm outside Kamloops. Melnyk jokes, “My husband says I should have been a hops farmer.” She humbly mentions, “I just wanted to help people, and somehow I would get paid to do that.” She worked with Paul and Company for a year but longed to be more integrated with the community while assisting those that needed access to justice in the areas not covered by legal aid. At this crossroads, she heard of an opening with the CLC; she applied, interviewed, and got the job as the supervising lawyer.
When asked what she enjoys most about this role, Melnyk mentioned that besides providing those in need with legal services, she loves instilling the same passion for the community into her students. It is full circle for her!
Unlike private practice, CLC comes with a gamut of challenges, some outside the law realm. Melnyk mentions that CLC has had the opportunity to work with a social worker to isolate some cases and direct the clients to the right resources. She points out that CLC has significant impacts, providing immediate access to marginalized community members and taking the burden off the justice system by triaging some of the issues. Despite the pandemic, CLC has been thriving the last couple of years, building on the support of former Dean Brad Morse with the addition of Dean Daleen Millard. In the last two years, CLC has reached more clients than in previous years with limited resources and a small team. There is an ongoing effort to work towards truth and reconciliation and shine a light by connecting students to the Cknúcwentn First Nations Court and observe local duty counsel, Mr. Graham Kay, at the sittings.
She is proud to be a TRU Faculty of Law alum. Melnyk mentions that CLC benefits from such a solid group of alumni. Those that are practicing are always there to help and drive change.
When asked what if not law, Melnyk says her second passion is starting a French wine and cheese boutique in the heart of Kamloops.
You can connect with Kelly Melnyk at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about CLC, visit: law/students/outreach/Legal_Clinic.html
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