Lawyers Helping Law Students (In Smaller Bites)

You’ve likely come across Peter Sankoff’s #100interns project over the past few months. Peter executed a very successful campaign of connecting law students with various practitioners, small firms and educational institutions around the country.

Students with an interest in Criminal law were paired with practitioners or researchers; giving them the experience they would normally have found during summer intern positions. The idea of filling this “COVID gap” for law students is incredibly admirable; though the project has since finished, and was limited to those seeking criminal law experience.

Over the past couple weeks I have been contacted about two student-led initiatives, who are similarly trying to help connect law students with smaller research projects and work experience. Both (at least for now) are based in Ontario:

  • The Mockingbird Network was started by University of Ottawa law student James Alexander. Practitioners and Faculty can register their smaller projects for students, which may range from basic document drafting and legal research tasks, to help with drafting marketing materials. Rates for law students range from $20-40/hr (more for connecting with graduate students); and they encourage smaller budgets, helping firms avoid the necessity of committing to a full-time summer hire.
  • LawLinks is another network recently started by two sisters: Davina Shivratan, a recent graduate from UofT Law; and Nadia Shivratan, just finishing up 1L at Windsor Law. LawLinks seek to connect students who want to volunteer their time with specific projects that organizations need help with. Launched only a few weeks ago, LawLinks already have over 200 law student volunteers registered & countless projects matched.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice for law firms to step up here?

In a down economy, this kind of smaller micro-project level commitment makes a lot of sense. Not only is the financial aspect customizable to each firm’s budget, but one might use these networks as an opportunity to ‘graze’ the field of available students. Rather that hiring a couple FTEs over the course of a single summer, firms can sample the work of a lot more candidates.

Of course, here’s the crux: Students need the help right now. The month of June is only days away, so many students have already lost their first month of potential summer experience (and income). Does your firm need help? Do they the have capacity to create these types of micro-tasks? If you wanted to act on this, now would be the time.

Finally, my entrepreneurial hat is off to the three students involved in these networks: James, Davina & Nadia — Well done!

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