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LPP work placements an opportunity for candidates, employers

The work placement portion of Ryerson’s Law Practice Program (LPP), gives its candidates a chance to get “a foot in the door” with potential employers, says André Bacchus, the program’s assistant director.

The four-month placement makes up the second half of the LPP, following hot on the heels of the practical training component, which sees candidates running their own virtual law firm in seven areas of law — administrative, business, civil litigation, criminal, family, real estate, and wills and estates.

Bacchus says the work placement offers a chance to further develop the skills learned while performing practical research, interviewing clients, docketing time, managing trust accounts and issuing invoices during the first four months of the program.

“You see those same things in action again during the placement. Each practitioner has an individual style of managing clients and practising law, so you’re exposed to a different approach,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

However, Bacchus says he also encourages participants to treat the placement like an audition for a full-time role.

“The placement is an opportunity to shine. As well as developing skills, they are building a reputation,” he says. “When they’ve got a foot in the door, it’s a great time to show what they are capable of.”

According to Bacchus, it’s not uncommon for LPP candidates to make such an impression on employers that they make special arrangements to keep them on or create new roles to accommodate them on a full-time basis.

“We’ve had in-house departments making an internal pitch to create jobs because the person becomes such an integral member of the team that they can’t let them leave,” he says. “Even if an employer can’t find the additional resources, it’s a great way for people to build their legal networks.

“If you can get champions in your corner who can vouch for your quality, then all of a sudden, the leads and connections start rolling in that could lead to a potential long-term role,” Bacchus adds.

Ryerson’s LPP is now in its fourth full year, giving law firms and employers time to familiarize themselves and become comfortable with the LPP concept. The program has a 100 per cent placement rate for candidates so far, Bacchus says, adding this year’s slate of employers offering positions includes Bay Street legal giants, various provincial government ministries and a host of major corporations.

“Word of mouth travels fast in the legal community. As we build our reputation, employers are coming to us,” he says. “This year we even had more employers than candidates for certain roles.”

Some employers that accept students for LPP placements also offer 10-month articling positions for law students taking the more traditional route to practice. However, Bacchus says the LPP’s shorter placement period has opened up avenues into workplaces that were unavailable before the program launched, particularly at in-house legal departments, smaller law firms and sole practices.

“They recognize that it’s a great opportunity for them to try before they commit long-term. They get exposure to a highly trained candidate to join their team for four months, and at the same time make a contribution to the profession,” he says.  

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