By Lila Amara, 2015-2016 candidate.
As a recent graduate of the University of Ottawa’s National Program, I consider myself fortunate to have obtained both Civil and Common Law degrees at such a young age. However, like most other recent graduates, I felt that the traditional articling route may not be suited to my needs. It is for this reason, among others, that I enrolled in the LSUC’s new alternative to the traditional articling experience: the Law Practice Program (LPP).
The LPP has met and exceeded my expectations. As many lawyers can attest, rigorous preparation is the bedrock on which all new lawyers must rely on in order to properly represent our clients. However, mistakes and other errors, particularly in the first few years of practice, are inevitable and although they are rarely fatal, they can be harmful not only to your client but also to your future reputation and opportunities. The LPP program has provided me with an articling experience that has both exposed me to various areas of law practice and the practical aspects of being a lawyer.
Through the first phase of the LPP program, I had the opportunity to work for a “simulated” law firm. Specifically, I worked in an office space, collaborated with my fellow candidates on client files, arranged client interviews, presented a business plan and learned the art of drafting, reviewing and preparing legal material. I was exposed to numerous areas of law, ranging from Immigration law to Commercial law, and connected to over 50 lawyers. As such, my colleagues and I were able to examine if our preferences for certain fields coming out of law school were in tune with practice in that field.
Currently, I work as an LPP articling student with the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office (CRIA) under the supervision of counsel. Although previously unfamiliar with Canada’s civil forfeiture regimes, I have developed an interest in civil forfeiture that will follow me even after I leave this office. I have attended contested hearings, cross-examinations, legal training sessions, MAG-sponsored social events and drafted materials for every stage of a civil forfeiture application. In particular, the MAG Education seminars, which are offered to all of their articling students, have been an invaluable experience that revealed to me just how many opportunities the Ontario government offers its employees.
In brief, the advantage of the LPP-MAG collaboration is twofold. First, a standardized and transitional articling experience has been successfully created. Second, an established network of lawyers and other professionals have been brought together to help train future lawyers - as they say, “it takes a village to raise a [lawyer]”. Together, these all but guarantee a meaningful articling experience. The uncertainty I felt out of law school was mitigated throughout the process, and although traditional articling placements still have their place, the networking opportunities provided by MAG and the LPP are unique.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author would also like to thank all those who have made his articling experience possible, most notably the Ottawa’s LPP program directors Anne Levesque and Lise Rivet, Jane Price and the entire staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Articling Student Program, as well as his colleagues in the LPP program and at CRIA.
Alexander Jewett, JD/LLL