In the 2020-2021 school year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced law schools to shift from deeply traditional in-person pedagogical methods to fully online learning. To say the least, students entering law school in 2020 (the “pandemic class”) had a markedly different law school experience than their pre-pandemic counterparts. From a lack of in-person learning to the challenge of blended work-life spaces, how did attending law school in a global pandemic affect the competencies of students in the pandemic class? Researchers will likely explore this complex question in the years to come. In the meantime, here are some reflections from one soon-to-be . . . [more]
Archive for ‘Law Student Week’
“What does it say? I don’t understand”. Children of immigrants are no stranger to this expression. Especially in circumstances where their parents are scrunching their foreheads to understand legal documents laced with technical complexities. Often, these children are the primary point of contact between their parents and professionals, which ultimately makes them responsible for translating and relaying technical information on behalf of their parents who lack native fluency. It is not uncommon to hear of children as early as six years old reading and translating demand letters, financial statements and court documents for their parents who do not understand the . . . [more]
The Path to Pride
The year is 2001. The legal profession in Ontario is in disarray after several law students at the University of Toronto’s law school were caught fraudulently altering their grades to secure prestigious Bay Street summer positions. Many of these students were disciplined. Yet, in the eyes of the legal priesthood, this also necessitated a macro-level response.
Accordingly, some of the profession’s best and brightest were corralled together under the leadership of the then-Chief Justice of Ontario, Roy McMurtry, to define the elements of professionalism for lawyers. Understandably, the Advisory Committee on Professionalism, as it was . . . [more]
From “a History of Exclusion” to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”: What May Have Gone Wrong in the Pursuit of the New Notion of Professionalism
Today, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) practices have become indispensable in almost every legal workplace. DEI practices aim to promote a new notion of professionalism, one where individuals from all walks of life enjoy fair treatment and full participation. “Merry Christmas” has become “Happy Holidays”. Profiles of Black and Asian-looking lawyers surge during Black History Month and Asian Heritage Month. Rainbows are slapped onto logos before the pride parades. Land recognitions are performed before major events.
However, do these actions mean this new notion of professionalism is working well?
Where It Starts: DEI as a Departure from a “History of. . . [more]
This week Slaw is presenting works by students in my upper year Professional Responsibility course at the University of Ottawa. The assignment given to the students was open-ended: write a 800-900 word essay on a topic of your choice. I instructed the students to focus on a single issue and try to use the assignment as an opportunity to reflect and elaborate on a specific point raised in our course readings or in class.
I encourage students to bring their own experiences into the classroom and share them with us and in their writings. This year was our first fully . . . [more]
You Are Where You Eat: The Influence Your Colleagues Will Have on Your Relationship With Legal Ethics
Ethics are the core of the legal profession, guiding lawyers, young and old in their interactions with clients, the public, and the bar. Each jurisdiction maintains a Code of Professional Conduct as a set of rules for lawyers to follow as members of the profession to maintain the profession’s honour and dignity. Much of each Code is open to interpretation and therefore can only form part of a lawyer’s approach to ethical conduct. Every lawyer also relies on their personal ethics, character, and the advice of their mentors, colleagues, and peers.
This short paper will address the challenges of ethical . . . [more]
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, We Are the Greatest of Them All: The Ideal and Challenge of Humility in the Legal Profession
It is no secret that a career in law is generally viewed as prestigious, elite and attracting high status in Canadian society. Those in law are often typified as strong, intelligent individuals and leaders. Multiple factors may influence such perceptions: from the long schooling required to be a lawyer; the various examinations aspiring lawyers must pass; historical notions of law as a noble profession; to TV depictions of busy, wealthy lawyers; and media coverage of high profile cases.
Not surprisingly, many students-at-law and lawyers alike learn to feel proud of their role and the prestige that comes with it. In . . . [more]
On the face of it, interviewing should not be all that difficult – particularly for lawyers. As members of a profession who primarily make their living either writing or speaking, the idea that having a conversation about your interests and abilities in your own profession sounds both logical and easy.
But throw the words “job interview” into the mix and a whole new paradigm emerges. With seemingly so much at stake, job interviews take on a new meaning for people who ordinarily would not shy away from talking about the field they have chosen and the background that they bring. . . . [more]
Since entering law school, people have told me their personal “horror” story regarding their experience with a lawyer. They generally follow the same narrative arch: “I paid X amount of dollars and the lawyer did nothing for me. They were so incompetent!” As I often stand steadfast in the defense of my chosen profession, there is a voice in my head that whispers, “maybe they’re right”. Though the law society has formed a comprehensive definition of competence, in my experience, there has been little done in the rearing of new lawyers to meet it.
The Law Society of Upper Canada . . . [more]
The Need for a Broader Public Safety Exception: Ethical Duties to Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence
The ethical duty of defence counsel to evaluate information under the public safety exception to solicitor-client privilege should be broadened to require disclosure when an offender is being released back into an environment where intimate partner violence will likely reoccur.
Consider a situation of domestic violence. A woman calls the police to report an assault by her husband. It was not the first time he assaulted her, but she did not previously report the abuse. Charges are laid. A psychological assessment is conducted, an expert stating that the defendant has violent tendencies and is likely to reoffend. The defendant . . . [more]
This article is by Nora Rock, Corporate Writer and Policy Analyst at LAWPRO.
While it’s easy to view students as a source of extra help, the primary purpose of articling is to provide a valuable apprenticeship to the student, not simply to lighten the lawyer’s load. Today’s law school curriculum has a strongly theoretical focus. Students spend a great deal of time learning to research the law and to “think like lawyers”, and limited time learning about how to operate a law practice.
That’s where articling comes in. As an articling principal, you are charged with teaching students about how . . . [more]
The Limits of Codes of Professional Conduct and the Value of a Lawyer Following Their Own Conscience: Lessons From Atticus Finch
“Is it or is it not an ethical dilemma?” “Does such a behaviour violate the ethical rules in the Rules of Professional Conduct?” These are questions that we students were asked each day in our Professional Responsibility class. However, day after day, we were often unable to reach a conclusive answer to a myriad of ethical dilemmas. I found myself often pondering why it was often so difficult to reach a conclusive answer to an ethical issue.