This morning hundreds of hopeful law students (and some law
graduates) will descend upon the City of Toronto in search of an
It is not unusual for a law firm to receive two hundred
applications or more for every available position. The process is
competitive and it is intense and gruelling.
As a member of my firm's student committee, I will be
spending the next three days away from clients and files and
instead will be eyeballs deep in interviews, committee meetings and
dinner engagements trying to find the right students for our
Since tis the season for articling interviews, I thought I would
share some advice with the students who are about to embark on this
process. Please note that all opinions expressed are mine and mine
It Is Okay To Be
I expect you to be a bit nervous when I meet you. I understand
that there is a lot riding on this process for you, that it is
incredibly stressful and that you probably did not sleep much last
night. It wasn't too long ago that I was in your chair. Guess
what, I was nervous too. Don't stress too much about a little
case of the jitters. I'm more off-put by someone who appears to
be 100% at ease than I am by someone who appears to be a bit
Be Confident... but
not too Confident
As the saying goes, "No one will believe in you unless you
do." You need to communicate, directly or indirectly, that
you're capable of being an excellent articling student if you
get the position. If you don't think you can do the job well,
I'm not going to think you can either. Conversely, excessive
confidence, or cockiness, isn't going to win you any points.
Articling students almost never hit the ground running at full
speed on day one, so realize that you're going to be learning a
lot during your 10 month term and be a bit humble as well.
Show Me You're
You need to communicate why you want to work with us as opposed
to another firm. I realize that it may be hard to draw a meaningful
distinction between firms from where you sit, but I want to see
that you've invested the time and effort in trying. It shows me
that you're invested in the process. If you provide me with a
generic answer it tells me you didn't feel it was worth it to
put in the effort to look into what we are all about.
Your Life Experiences
Tell Me More About you Than your Grades
If you're meeting me it means your grades were good enough
to get you in the door and they are probably similar to most of the
other candidates we are meeting. What will distinguish you are the
life experiences you have, and how those experiences impacted your
life. To a large degree, I care more about why you did
things and how those things shaped you than I do about
what you've done. I've been incredibly impressed
by a candidate explaining how working at the Home Depot shaped
their character. I've also been incredibly unimpressed by a
candidate explaining their internship at the UN and how it will
help them conduct excellent research.
Show Me You Can
I don't expect you to have the necessary legal skills that
will make you an exceptional articling student on the morning of
your first day. However, I want to make sure that you have the
necessary personality traits and ability to learn (quickly). We can
teach you to become a great articling student; we want to know that
you can learn.
This is Not the
This process is the beginning of a long career. If you're
not hired by the firm you desire, or if you're not offered any
position at all when the process concludes, realize it is not the
end of the world. The ratio of applications and interviews to
positions dictates that the majority of the people who go through
this process will experience some disappointment. There will be
other excellent opportunities for you.
If I ask You what
Animal you Would be and Why...
The correct answer is a giraffe, due to their excellent eyesight
and powerful kicks.
Good luck everyone!!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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