Job Search Process
One of the primary goals of the Career Development Office (CDO) is to provide you with the tools you need to find meaningful summer and articling positions. This process begins as soon as you start your first year at the Schulich School of Law, and in many cases, continues until you graduate. The CDO staff are here to make this a good experience for you, and we're available to offer advice at every stage of your legal education: first year, second year and third year.
The CDO meets one-on-one with every first year student to help orient you to the areas of law you might be interested in, walk you through the hiring processes, and connect you with an alumnae/us working in your desired region or city.
While most of the advertised law-related summer jobs are for second and third year students, some larger law firms hire first year students, and there are many organizations you could assist over the summer that would help you to make contacts and build some skills.
Whether you know what type of law you want to practice in the near future or not, it's useful to apply for a few jobs in your first year as a practice run for when you are truly interested. This way, you can identify and work on improving areas of weakness before second year, when, for most students, their job search becomes more serious.
If you apply to jobs after first semester, you will be asked to provide a copy of your "fail-safe" marks from December exams. While it is true that these marks don’t need to count towards your final grade, they do count for employers assessing you for summer jobs after first year! Fail-safe grades are the only reference legal employers will have to your performance in law school to-date, so it is important to take them seriously.
See the Career Development Handbook on the MySchulichLaw portal for more information on how to prepare a list of your fail-safe marks.
Opportunities to learn about career development skills, career options and to connect with the legal community
There are many opportunities to attend career-related workshops and information sessions during first year. Even if you do not think you will be applying for any jobs in your first year, the information that you will gain from these information sessions will help you prepare for the following year. The workshops are also a great time to get a feel for how things work, meet people from the legal community and pick up tips from recruiters of law firms and government departments.
Don’t forget that the faculty at the Schulich School of Law is a resource that is available to you as you contemplate your future career. From serving as a reference, to providing insight about specific career paths, to connecting you with lawyers in a specific niche area that you are interested in, our faculty has a wealth of insight and information to share.
The Schulich School of Law has a variety of societies, organizations and clubs that students can join. Take advantage and get involved! Whether you are a member of an organization or not, many interesting events are put on by our societies which you can attend and learn from.
Law Hour is another great way to learn about different types of law, options for careers, and a way to connect with the broader legal community too! Every Thursday from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m., speakers present on a variety of topics while students enjoy a free pizza lunch. Don’t be shy about approaching a speaker for more information – chances are that if they have given their time to present at the law school, they are interested in students and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Recruitment for second year summer positions begins in the late summer before second year. Although some students will secure employment in the early fall, the majority will spend a considerable amount of time networking, sending applications and interviewing throughout the year.
Second year is academically challenging, so you should prepare your application packages as early as possible. Use any feedback you received from previous application processes, workshops and other experiences to ensure that you are well prepared. Take time in the summer or early in the year to have your cover letters and resumé reviewed by the CDO and to learn as much as possible about the employers you're interested in. Make contact with upper year and articling students and start asking questions.
Different provinces: different processes
British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario: large-scale recruitment for second year summer jobs takes place in late summer/early fall of your second year. Smaller employers may hire throughout the year. These summer jobs often lead to an articling position with the same employer, but there are no guarantees. Recruitment for articling positions in these regions typically takes place during the spring/summer of your second year.
Atlantic Canada: recruitment process begins in January of your second year. These will be for articling positions that begin after graduation. Very often, part of the offer of an articling position is the option to work with that employer in the summer of your second year.
Opportunities with smaller firms, sole practitioners, some government departments and other organizations: Not all employers follow regimented or regular schedules of hiring, do not necessarily follow the same recruiting cycles as noted above and may hire on shorter timelines and on an as-needed or as-funded basis. These entitites do not necessarily advertise their openings with the law school, so students must be resourceful in identifying potential employers and making contact to find out about them and express interest.
If you haven’t secured your articling position, stay positive! Employers hire throughout the summer before third year and through third year and beyond and many students receive their articling positions then.
You may have to make compromises regarding your preferred type of law or employer or geographical location, but articling does not have to be a lifetime commitment. Remember to start early and consult with the Career Development Office for help!