Legal Articling: Looking for Work with a Law Degree

Legal Articling: Looking for Work with a Law Degree

In Ontario, before a law graduate can practice law, they must first complete their “articles”, which is on the job training with a practicing lawyer. When I did my articles 12 years ago, we articled for 12 months. The time has now been shortened to 10 months. The law graduate also has to pass the bar admission exams that occur before and after the period of articling.

Over the last several years the legal profession has been grappling with the problem of too many law graduates and not enough legal articling positions. Universities are able to charge huge amounts of money to law students for tuition, which has led to more and more law graduates. Unfortunately, the market has not kept pace with the number of graduates and as a result there is an over-supply of law graduates for a limited number of legal articling positions.

The Law Society of Upper Canada, the governing body for the legal profession in Ontario, has stepped in to form an alternative legal articling experience for those law graduates who are not able to secure a traditional legal articling position. The Globe and Mail ran a story on the new program last year and can be read by clicking here.

I don’t agree with putting money towards this program. As with many professions, the lack of legal articling positions is partly due to the fact that law graduates do not want to leave the major centres for smaller, rural communities. I would prefer to see the Law Society subsidize smaller firms in communities outside of Toronto, Ottawa, London etc. to help pay the costs of a legal articling student. By helping offset the cost, smaller firms would be able to offer legal articling positions to law graduates. This strategy of getting more students out of the big cities and into smaller communities may also help with the impending problem of these smaller communities not having lawyers. If the students have good experiences in these smaller communities they may decide to stay and practice law, something that would benefit both the new law graduate and the community.

At Bonn Law we recently started hiring legal articling students. We had our first articling student in 2012 and she is now a valuable associate with the firm. We currently have another articling student working with us and another one scheduled to start in 2015. When we decide to hire an articling student we are looking for someone who has a desire to work in a smaller community. We are looking to our future growth. Hopefully more firms in smaller communities will see the benefits and opportunities of hiring an articling student.

Kristian Bonn, Personal Injury Lawyer

Bonn Law Office, Trenton/Belleville, ON