Vancouver Articling Program
We strive, through our articling program, to train highly-capable, practice-ready lawyers who will remain with the firm as associates and ultimately become partners. The majority of our current Vancouver partners and senior associate counsel articled with the firm.
Our articling program enables our students to complete the transition from the academic study of law to the practice of law. Most of our students take their first step in that transition as summer students, and then return to the firm to article.
Program Description - The Articling Year with Davis
The articling year comprises nine months in the office, plus the ten-week Professional Legal Training Course ("PLTC"). A student has several options as to when to take PLTC, and when to start in the firm. A student's start date is set in consultation with our Director of Student Programs. We try to accommodate each student's preferred start date, subject to the firm's needs.
Orientation - Getting Started
Our students spend their first few days at the firm in a detailed orientation program, learning something of the firm's history, practice, structure, and resources, and receiving computer and network training. The orientation program is intended to introduce an articled student to the firm (or to "re-introduce" a returning summer student), to provide useful background information, and to teach technical skills that will be essential during the articling year and beyond.
Rotations - Putting the "rounded" in "well-rounded articles"
After completing the orientation program, our articled students commence the first of their three "rotations". The rotation process provides a flexible structure that enables our students to experience a broad range of practice areas and to work with as many lawyers as possible. This gives students a comprehensive articling experience, and helps them to identify preferred areas of practice. Each rotation is three months in duration: one rotation is with our litigation/employment and labour group; one is with our corporate/commercial/real estate/insolvency groups; and the final rotation is "open", enabling students to self-direct and focus the nature of assignments as their call dates approach.
Guidance, Support, and Resources
The articling year is rewarding, but challenging. Many articling assignments involve something "new" for a student, and we recognize the need to guide and support our students as they tackle tasks for the first time. The support team for our articled students includes their principals, their mentors, and our Director of Student Programs.
Each student is assigned a principal, who is an experienced lawyer responsible for generally overseeing the student's training and for instructing the student on essential aspects of the practice of law and professional conduct. The principal serves a supervisory role; our principals are encouraged, and expected, to meet regularly with their students to monitor the nature and scope of their workload and the quality of their articling experience.
We also ask each of our articled students, about a month after their arrival, to choose a relatively junior lawyer as a mentor. Our mentors, recently students themselves, give helpful guidance about the articling year and the firm, and provide practical advice as to any concerns that may be raised by their student mentees. Our mentors, like our principals, are encouraged to meet regularly with their students to ensure that their articling experience is positive.
Our Director of Student Programs, Kerry Sheppard, also provides guidance and support for our students. After articling and practising (as both a solicitor and as a litigator) with the firm, Kerry spent ten years as in-house counsel with the Lawyers Insurance Fund of The Law Society of BC. He coordinates our student orientation and education programs, and is always available to our students to discuss any issues that may arise.
All of our firm's administrative resources are available to our articled students as necessary. Our students are provided with their own offices, and receive administrative support from an experienced legal assistant.
Our law library, one of the largest legal collections in Western Canada, is a resource of particular note. The library is administered by a professional law librarian and experienced library assistants, who provide reference assistance to our students and lawyers. Online research is, of course, available and all of our students are trained in using and searching computer databases. All students and lawyers have access to Quicklaw and Westlaw.
The professional development of our students is a priority. We present a series of weekly seminars for our articled students designed to reinforce the training provided in our summer student seminars and to provide instruction and guidance on other practice-related topics. We "drill down" on topics previously covered in our summer student seminars, such as conflicts of interest, the business of law, professional civility and courtesy, risk management, and effective client communication, and discuss additional topics such as advocacy, solicitors' opinions, trial preparation, commercial closings, and drafting pleadings. Our students are also, of course, welcome and encouraged to attend other firm-wide professional development seminars and presentations.
Evaluation and Feedback
We feel that providing effective, constructive feedback to our students is essential. We obtain formal evaluation feedback from the lawyers for whom our students have worked, and we share the relevant feedback with each student. We also encourage our lawyers to provide ongoing, informal feedback to our students about their work product and performance.
Compensation and Benefits
Our articled students' salaries and benefits are competitive with those of other major Vancouver firms. The annual salary for our Vancouver articled students is currently $50,000. Each student's salary is paid while attending PLTC, and we also pay each student's PLTC fees. Students are entitled to 10 days of vacation during their articles.
Over the past three years, we have offered associate positions to approximately 60% of the articled students in our Vancouver office.
How to Apply
In our Vancouver office, we typically employ between seven and nine articled students each year.
Virtually all of our summer students have, in recent years, returned to article with us. We may seek to hire additional articled students to join our returning summer students. In any given year, the number of additional articled students to be hired will vary.
We are not seeking to hire any additional articled students for 2013-2014 or for 2014-2015. We will not be participating in the articling interview week in August 2013.