Fighting the fight against a lack of information on Canadian Law Schools.
UG CGPA: ###
LS Class: ####
Sunday, April 10, 2005
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping...
...and I have the pleasure of watching it all from my living room window. I've thought about taking my books outside, but decided against it because I doubt I'll get much done. So the plan is to take a good break sometime during the day and go get some ice cream. Anybody want to join me?
So I didn't answer one question that someone posted... and that is regarding jobs other than those on Bay Street. Simple answer - there are plenty. In fact, it's a small percentage of LS students that get those jobs. A lot of people decide to work in smaller firms outside of downtown Toronto. They branch out into other areas in Ontario such as: Mississauga, North York, Hamilton, Ottawa, London. Some work for the government, some do clerkships while others go back home - Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, etc. There are plenty of great opportunities outside of Canada's financial nucleus.
Most articling jobs are offered after the student works at the organization for his/her 2L summer. For Toronto, the job application process starts as early as September of the previous year whereas others start in January. Apparently the Toronto process is pretty drawn out and brutal - hopefully next year I'll be able to offer everyone an insider's view of that!
As far as what to do for your 1L summer, I've been told that you do whatever it is that you feel like - travel, volunteer, sit at home and play video games, work - because it is the last free summer you'll get. You don't have to do anything law-related. It's not a pre-requisite to getting interviews for 2L summer jobs.
However, a few people I know did manage to score law-related jobs in the summer. A friend of mine managed to secure one of the rare 1L Bay Street jobs with a large firm so he's set for his articling, unless he does something to really annoy his co-workers there. Another friend is working for a personal injury firm in London - he's actually been working there part-time during the year and is doing legal research on the lawyers' behalf. Another friend is a research assistant for our Torts prof. And another is the director of the Dispute Resolution Centre at the Faculty of Law here. She'll be conducting quite a few mediations over the summer. I actually interviewed for this job but, evidently, was not found to be the best person for the position.
It all worked out in the end though, because I was lucky enough to be interviewed for and offered a position as a supervisor of the Community Legal Services (CLS) at the Faculty of Law. CLS offers free legal services to those that can't afford a lawyer (and students of UWO). Sometimes we have to reject taking on clients based on their finances and at times it is a little heartbreaking because even though they might own a beat up old car and/or an old dilapidated house the idea is that they could sell it/them and pay for legal services. We have to do this because we have so many clients that don't own any assets whatsoever so we want to use our resources as efficiently as we can to those that really need our help. Of course, we do have some discretion when taking on clients depending on the type of case it is. This discretion is exercised by the Review Counsel (lawyers that run CLS - there are 3, including the Director). CLS handles criminal files (summary conviction offences), small claims court files, Landlord-Tenant issues, and some other provincial offences.
Each year, CLS hires approximately 10 supervisors (this year there are 11) to work during the summer and the school year. Supervisors are paid during the summer and are expected to handle approximately 25-30 files. During the school year, supervisors are unpaid and are expected to have duty hours to supervise students in the Litigation Practice (LP) course as well as volunteers. Supervisors are expected to handle 2-3 files during the school year.
I'm really excited about this as I'll be able gain valuable litigation experience over the summer. I've been volunteering there since about October and have really enjoyed myself. Let me tell you a bit about it. As a first year volunteer, I've had one duty hour a week and I've had the opportunity to interview a lot of people who come into the office - taking down their personal and financial information (to determine whether we can accept them as clients) as well as the fact situation (reason why they came in to seek help). These are called client intakes. There's a standardized form to follow so, although it's a bit intimidating when you first start, it's pretty easy to do. This is what first year volunteers (Associate Caseworkers) typically do. If you want to get involved, you can ask the supervisor of your duty hour and he/she will let you have greater input on either a file he/she is working on or on a file that a Caseworker on the LP course is working on (typically LP course participants handle 8 files in total).
I had the opportunity to help an LP course student out on his file and we got to go to the Ontario Rental and Housing Tribunal (ORHT) for a hearing where we settled our case in mediation. This was the best experience at CLS I've had so far because, although we settled, we were ready to present our case in front of the Tribunal members. The night before we were in the CLS office working on our case - going over all of the evidence, making sure we would be asking our clients the right questions in direct examinations, anticipating cross-examination questions. I tell you, my adrenaline was certainly pumping.
So, needless to say, I'm looking forward to getting started at CLS this summer. I've just got to get through exams...
...back to the books!