Is There Life after Law School? Articling, Lawyering, and Other Possibilities

AuthorAllan C. Hutchinson
You have negotiated the travails of law school and come through bet-
ter and wiser: What next? How can you or should you deploy the skills
and qualifications you have acquired? There are, of course, many
answers and responses. An LL.B./J.D. comes with no guarantees of
fame or fortune, happiness or security, wisdom or judgment. There
are so many ways in which you can put your law degree to work. The
most obvious and frequent is to enter into the private practice of law.
But there are also other paths to travel — government, politics, busi-
ness, social advocacy, to name a few. Most students usually take the
step of qualifying for the bar, so that they at least have the option to
become a practising lawyer. Nevertheless, you must resist the temp-
tation to remain on the conveyor belt that tends to run from law
schools to large urban firms. It is the easy thing to do, but it is not the
right or the best thing for everyone. Rather than decide by default,
you owe it to yourself to make a positive and informed resolution
about your future career.
is there life after law school?
articling, lawyering, and other possibilities
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In this final chapter, I explore some of the possibilities and challenges
that will present themselves to you after law school. After surveying
the basic structure of the legal profession, there is an account of what
articling is like and how to get an articling position. Next, I provide a
brief glimpse at the prospects and possibilities for employment in
private practice and elsewhere. Finally, there is an introduction to the
ethical dimension of lawyering. Calling into question the traditional
approaches, I suggest a different and more suitable style of lawyering.
If you know some of these matters at the beginning of your law
school career, you will have a broader context both for your studies
and for law school in general.
going to the bar
Lawyers in Canada are part of a joint profession. Students are called to
the bar as solicitors and as barristers. This distinction between those
who do and those who do not litigate as advocates in court is traceable
to the English profession, which remains split, with very different
entry requirements and training for barristers and for solicitors.
Although there is a de facto split in the Canadian profession, with a
small group of lawyers dominating the litigation process, there is still
a much greater and healthier shifting between roles; many general
practitioners do a small amount of court work. Moreover, there is no
such entity as the lawyer, a fungible professional model that can stand
in for and represent the rest of the profession. There are many differ-
ent kinds of lawyers and ways of lawyering — small firms, large firms,
sole practitioners, urban practices, rural practices, generalist firms,
specialist firms, female firms, ethnic firms, and so on.
All provinces have a governing body that is controlled by lawyers
and that has a monopoly over the certification and discipline of
lawyers. Although the requirements for call to the bar vary slightly
from province to province, the basic pattern is that all students must
possess a law degree from an accredited law school. In the case of for-
eign-trained or overseas lawyers, they must have their credentials val-
idated by the Joint Committee on Accreditation in Ottawa; such
accreditation will often entail foreign lawyers being required to do
232 / the law school book

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