A recent article in the Globe & Mail suggests this may be true:
”Meagan Williams, 30, has a seeming impressive resume for a budding lawyer: a law degree from University of Western Ontario, good grades, two summers in a ”pretty coveted” position at her school’s legal clinic, experience at mock-trial competitions, and a master’s degree in politics.
But despite her achievements, she was initially unable to secure on of the 10-month articling positions mandatory for a ll Canadian law-school graduates who wish to become fully fledged lawyers. And she was not alone.”
For those who may not know, ”articling” is an apprenticeship of sorts, where the articling student or clerk learns about the practice of law in a real-wrold work environment, and in Canada it is required to become a member of the bar. In the United States we, of course, don’t have that kind of requirement.
Some people actually say that adding such apprenticeship would be beneficial to our legal education system. It would provide law graduates with the practice they need, and, if it could replace one of the three-year law school curriculum, it could actually lower the cost of legal education. Because instead of spending the money on a third year of classroom instruction, aspiring lawyers could work as these apprentices, gain practical experience, and earn rather than pay out money.
Some think that Canada’s legal education system should be like ours. But it makes us wonder if Canada will make its legal education system like our own because of the shortage of articling positions.
”In what’s been called ”articling crisis” 12 percent of Ontario law school graduates were unable to get articling jobs on 2011, according to statistics from the Law Society of Upper Canada. A new task force is mulling a range of reforms, while some in the profession call for the creation of alternatives to mandatory articling, or even the scrapping of it all together.”
This strikes most as the wrong solution, because Canada is trying to fix a ”problem” that is not necessarily a problem. If Canadian law students can’t find articling jobs, then maybe there isn’t enough demand in the market for additional lawyers. Maybe they should think to mint fewer law students, rather that get rid of a barrier to entry that is actually tied to market demand.
”I was definitely staring in the face of this huge barrier to doing what I want to do,” says Ms. Williams, who says she spent her third year looking for an articling post, even cold-calling small law firms across Ontario trying to convince them to take on an articling student. She has since attained one of the positions she had hoped for all along, at Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney-General, starting next year.”