Providing a Glimpse to our 1Ls Into the Legal World – Preparing Students to Join the Legal Profession

Posted on Friday, October 16, 2020

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What is Becoming a Legal Professional?

Becoming a Legal Professional is an innovative professional development online workshop series designed to help 1L students gain an understanding of the legal landscape and acquire a holistic set of essential skills, The Lawyering Essentials, for building a successful legal career. The first program of its kind in Canada, Becoming a Legal Professional was developed in 2015 in a partnership between the Career and Professional Development Centre (CPDC) and Dispute Resolution Faculty.

In addition to understanding the legal market and developing a greater awareness of the highly sought-after skill set on the legal job market, 1L students learn, through online modules, how to adopt and apply a growth mindset, engage in self-exploration and goal setting, as well as build connections with the legal community.

Why is this added value?

This program was unique to uOttawa Law when we launched in 2015. More and more, law schools across the country are realizing the necessity of building more professional development opportunities into their curricula. We identified this need early by staying ahead of the curve when it comes to industry changes and we spearheaded a program that gives our students an edge.

Why is it integrated in the curriculum?

Making this training part of a 1L student’s regular course work underscores the importance of entering the legal job market with not only subject matter knowledge and hard legal skills (such as legal research, writing and advocacy) traditionally taught in the classroom, but also soft professional skills (such as emotional intelligence, grit and resilience, and an entrepreneurial spirit).

How does it make 1L stand out?

By understanding early on in their law school career what it takes to become a successful legal professional, they are able to start working towards acquiring the Lawyering Essentials now, and prepare  to hit the ground running once they enter the job market.

Jennifer Nadon, Professional Development Counsellor and a member of the team which developed the program, explained a bit more about the rationale for Becoming a Legal Professional:

“Experts across the North American legal industry are increasingly emphasizing the importance of teaching law students professional competencies that will help them succeed in whatever career path they choose. I am excited that our law school faculty and Dean recognize the added value of this programming for law students who are preparing to enter a competitive job market during uncertain economic times and support our efforts to deliver this training to our students. I am proud of our team at the CPDC as we successfully adapted our content, materials and resources to reflect ‘the new normal’ and launched fully online using the principles of Universal Design. We give students options and flexibility to work through the modules at their own pace and integrate the knowledge in a way that they determine to be the most helpful for them.”

The Becoming a Legal Professional initiative is currently only offered to the English JD program students. The Career and Professional Development Centre is in the process of establishing the French side of the initiative.


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