One of the unique requirements that we have in North America to be called to the bar is the articling process, the merits of which have been discussed here. And we have seen law students try to use social media to get these positions.
But I still know an astonishing number of students from the class of 2010 that do not have any articling position at all. Not just from my school, but across Ontario and the country. So here’s my attempt to try and do something about it.
There’s no real reliable way to track the numbers. Most Career Services Offices (CSOs) don’t collect the data, and most students don’t self-identify, for a number of reasons including fear of peer evaluation.
We do have the Feb. 24, 2010 minutes from the Legal and Literary Society, Osgoode’s student government, which states:
1. Possible Joint Initiatives
- Currently, 20% of the graduating class of Osgoode does not have articles
- But this is not unique to Osgoode; problem across the province
- Bulk of articling positions have been given out; combination of shift in model of law as a business; increase in number of students at law school
- Grades thing?
- Preliminary call is made on grades; yes
- Some articling jobs are being paid very little or not at all.
- Fewer jobs out there right now; smaller practitioners are not hiring anyone; big firms are not hiring as many.
2. Law School Wide Initiative
- Recommendations; co-op programs (ie small practitioners splitting articling students)
- Getting Osgoode students into the new positions created.
- More fully leverage our alumni network
- For future years, we should know who went where and when, so that we have an idea of who still is searching for a job.
- Career Fair: Friday March 5, 2 – 4 at the Metro Convention Centre
- Career Services Concerns:
- Release of final grades past due date of firm job posting deadlines
- Students found out about Alberta process only post deadline
- General unwillingness to help – told to “check the memo”
Considering that Osgoode is in the ballpark of 275 students, that’s around 55 people. I’ve personally heard figures higher and lower than this. And then there are all the other Ontario schools with substantial numbers of students who are from Toronto and are looking to return.
Part of the solution would obviously be for students to look outside of the major cities. But there are also problems with smaller firms advertising and finding students looking for these opportunities. CSOs are doing what they can, and are usually doing a great job, but can only do so much. I still have too many friends still looking.
After one sole practitioner recently contacted us about an available position, I’ve decided to set up a page on Law is Cool for articling positions, with a dedicated e-mail address for law firms looking for students.
If we can match even a single student it will be worth our while, as we are facilitating the entry of the next generation of lawyers. Any help that readers can offer to assist these students is greatly appreciated.