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Toronto Lawyers Association offers help in articling process: Rataic-Lang

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

The Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA) is offering its resources to firms wanting to take on articling law students and to help graduates be successful, says its Executive Director Joan Rataic-Lang.

The TLA wants to make it easier for aspiring lawyers to find an articling position after graduating law school by offering its resource-rich mine of experience and information, she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

"More students are graduating from law schools and they're having a hard time finding an articling position," Rataic-Lang says. "They spend all that time and effort on education and the last piece, the articling, is a bit of a struggle."

Law graduates require 10 months of articling or participation in the Law Practice Program, but there are no requirements for law firms to take them on, she says.

Rataic-Lang agrees this step towards becoming a lawyer is the most difficult and harrowing for students. It also could be a hurdle for some firms, especially sole practitioners.

"I think some lawyers hesitate to accept a student because they can't support them," she says. "They say, 'I don't have a library, I don't have this or I don't have that.' This is where the TLA steps in. We recognize there's a big gap between large and small firms.

"We run the courthouse library," she says of the facility in the Superior Court of Ontario building at 361 University Avenue, that is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. "We're here. If they don't have a library at their firm, or if they don't have all the resources they need, they can rely on us."

She acknowledges that it's a complex issue for firms taking on students. It could be expensive for smaller firms and it demands dedication to supervise the development of a young lawyer.

"People hesitate to commit to that," Rataic-Lang says. "I don't think it's an onerous commitment but someone does have to say, 'Yes, I am willing to take the student on and supervise them.'"

She says it's a good way for firms to see if graduates will fit their needs and culture in the future.

"It's an ideal way to find out if they're a good match," Rataic-Lang says.

To help graduates get a jump on the articling process, the association hosts the Head Start Program in September. It will help participants learn how to lay the foundations for their career as a lawyer, tips about legal research and offer the "what, how and why" articling truths.

The TLA also regularly holds educational programs and discussions throughout the year that students can attend at reduced rates. Planned events include the 13th Annual Articling Students and Masters' Motions session and Legal Writing for Students and New Lawyers: Writing Effective Memoranda of Law.

"It costs nothing to be a member of the association if you're an articling student," Rataic-Lang says. "We're here to help the students. We have the resources, we train them with research, and the support is ongoing.

"If they have questions, we assist them," she says.

Contact the Toronto Law Association for further information about its various programs.

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