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Articling Program

Our articling program has been thoughtfully designed to offer you a learning experience that is challenging and rewarding in an environment that is collegial and dynamic. With a focus on your career and professional development, our program will provide you with a comprehensive and thorough exposure to the practice of law to help you successfully transition from law student to practicing lawyer.

 

You will spend your articling year gaining experience in different areas of law through our rotation program and will become involved in specific cases and transactions. You will be invited to contribute to and manage files at considerable depth. If you develop an interest in particular practice areas, you’ll be encouraged to explore them. Regardless of the area of law, you will be supported by lawyers who will share practical experience, mentoring you and showing you how the work you do makes a difference.

At Harper Grey, students are an integral part of our firm and the services we provide to our clients. Many of our lawyers completed their articles with Harper Grey and understand the importance of well-rounded articles. They are very engaged with our articling program and work closely with students to assist them in reaching their potential to become outstanding lawyers.

If our program has piqued your interest we would love to hear from you, learn more about you, what you are looking for and what drives you.  We encourage you to apply — let’s see if there is a fit.

1. Orientation keyboard_arrow_down

Our five-day orientation program has been designed to familiarize you with your new working environment.  During your first week, you will:

  • be trained on our various office systems, including accounting procedures, central services, office equipment, and facilities;
  • receive computer and systems training and be introduced to our document management, time recording, and precedent systems;
  • be given a comprehensive tour of our library and receive initial research training;
  • meet lawyers and staff;
  • receive a full orientation about what you can expect in the articling year;
  • set up your office; and
  • receive your first work assignments.
2. What to Expect keyboard_arrow_down

In the first weeks, you will begin assisting lawyers with real, meaningful work. This could include:

  • research;
  • the preparation of memoranda;
  • accompanying a lawyer to court or chambers;
  • meeting clients and answering their questions;
  • drafting an agreement; and
  • interviewing witnesses.

The emphasis, right from the start, is on being a valuable part of our team and making a contribution.

Our lawyers provide guidance to help students recognize what is needed and how it can be improved upon.  Learning from practical, applied experience is what the articling year is all about.

3. Resources + Support keyboard_arrow_down

Articling can be a stressful, yet rewarding time.  You will face a steep learning curve as many assignments will be difficult and new to you.  Accept the challenge.  Learn as much as possible.  We encourage you to ask questions, work closely with those who have assigned work and demonstrate that you are committed to doing a good job for our clients.  We will be with you every step of the way guiding and supporting you.

a) Support Team

Your circle of support includes:

  • Kim Yee and Steven Abramson, Co-chairs of our Recruitment Committee, are available to you as a continuing resource during your articles.
  • Lori Williams, our Director of Student and Associate Professional Development, provides guidance and support and is always available to you to discuss any issues that may arise.
  • Ann Has, our Student Legal Administrative Assistant, has many years of experience devoted to students.  She will provide secretarial and administrative support to you and can be trusted to point you in the right direction.
  • Danielle Brousseau, our Librarian will lead library and research seminars during the year. She and her team are an invaluable resource. They are patient, and they have trained many articling students on what the lawyers expect.
  • Every member of our various administration teams are available to support you in any way they can.

b) Principal

You will be paired with a senior lawyer who will serve in a supervisory role as your principal to ensure you are provided with a quality articling experience.  Your principal will encourage, support and guide you by:

  • monitoring the nature and scope of your workload;
  • providing feedback on different ways to approach work and assignments;
  • ensuring that you are exposed to a broad spectrum of practice areas;
  • providing you with exposure to real-world problem solving;
  • reporting to the Law Society of BC on your progress;
  • ensuring that you are given the opportunity to work on matters that interest you; and
  • engaging with you in discussions surrounding your expectations and ours.

c) Mentoring

Our mentoring program is informal.  During any part of your day, you can seek feedback on your work from your principal, or any of our lawyers.  Our firm has an open door policy and some of the top lawyers in the country are available to you for guidance in your pursuit of excellence in law.  Associates and partners alike welcome the opportunity to work with our students and are available to offer guidance and advice.

4. Rotation Program keyboard_arrow_down

Our goal is to provide our students with well-rounded articles by providing a blend of work experiences in a broad range of practice areas through a rotation program.  Under the guidance and supervision of experienced lawyers in these areas we hope to inspire students and help them develop their skills, professional abilities and judgment.

We offer two distinct rotations: Business Law (8-10 weeks) and Litigation (30-32 weeks).  While you may already have your sights on a career in litigation we want to make sure that you also have the opportunity to explore the diversity of work in business law.

a) Business Law Rotation

Students in our business law rotation are given the opportunity to gain the skills needed to be an effective solicitor through exposure to many different areas including general corporate/commercial, corporate finance, real estate and technology.  Typical work in this area may include:

  • assisting with real property conveyancing;
  • assisting with organizing commercial transactions;
  • attending shareholder meetings;
  • attending commercial transaction closings and shareholder meetings;
  • witnessing wills;
  • attending meetings with clients; and
  • conducting research.

b) Litigation Rotation

To help you build a comprehensive skill set in litigation, our litigation rotation provides experience in most areas of our litigation practice including commercial litigation, health law, insurance law, professional liability, environmental and other niche areas.  Typical work in this area includes:

  • assisting and attending at chambers, trials, hearings, discoveries and applications at various levels of court;
  • managing small claims cases;
  • interviewing witnesses and meeting with clients and experts;
  • attending settlement conferences and mediations;
  • interviewing witnesses;
  • conducting research;
  • preparing opinions and legal memoranda; and
  • drafting and revising documents.

c) Let’s talk about Research

We want you to have as full an experience as possible, and build your skills in the real world of law — of which research is just one area.  The research you’ll be doing at Harper Grey involves challenging, complicated legal research issues.  Your hard work is vetted and often used as the basis for legal argument for all levels of court.

5. The Work keyboard_arrow_down

We operate in a fast-paced and dynamic environment and you will be exposed to a wide variety of interesting and challenging matters.  Much of your work will be new to you and it is important in the first few months that you demonstrate initiative and an appetite for learning.  First impressions will be based on perceptions of your motivation, writing and research skills and the ability to meet deadlines.

Articled students work on virtually everything a lawyer does.  You can expect that the work assigned to you will be as varied as the practice areas we offer.  Our goal, as always, is to provide you with the broad exposure necessary for you to develop the technical and practical skills essential to the successful practice of law.

As more lawyers become familiar with your interests and strengths, you’ll receive more varied assignments.  Lori Williams and your principal will help you manage your workload; this is the time when long hours can be spent at the office and you can be immersed in helping out with a trial or a challenging request.

a) Work Allocation

As mentioned earlier, we offer a hands-on real world articling experience and obtaining work directly from lawyers in the firm is one example.There are a number of ways that work will be assigned to you:

  • Through the general student list which is shared by all students.  The work rotates through the students depending upon availability and workload.
  • Through the Partner Designation Schedule which designates specific partners who will send you work each month.  This ensures that you get to work with all of the partners over the course of your articles.
  • A lawyer needing assistance may contact you directly and request your assistance on a matter.  This type of assignment will be dictated to a certain extent by client demand.
  • By seeking work directly.  You are expected to be proactive and communicate with the lawyers in the firm to let them know you have capacity to take on new tasks.
  • Through exploring and expanding in directions that interest you.  If you find an area of specific interest to you within the scope of our practice areas you are encouraged to reach out to the practice leader and offer your services.  In this way you will be able to customize your articling experience.

b) Billing Targets

While you will be expected to track your time (an extremely important skill for you to learn) you will not be assigned specific billing targets or workload requirements until later in your articles.

c) The Hours

You will be expected to be present during the regular work week and encouraged to manage your own workload.  While the workload for articling students fluctuates, you can expect to work 50 – 60 hours per week.

6. Skills + Professional Development keyboard_arrow_down

An investment in your learning and development is an investment in our future.

Throughout your articles, you will be invited to attend a wide range of in-house lunch seminars on a variety of topics.

The articling experience will teach you time management, file management and practice management skills.  During the year you will also have the opportunity to attend frequent seminars on topics such:

  • how to be a good junior;
  • recording time and billing effectively;
  • cross examinations;
  • production of documents;
  • appearing in chambers;
  • mediation briefs; and
  • residential conveyances.

You will also learn specific skills such as:

  • legal research;
  • writing;
  • drafting;
  • advocacy;
  • negotiation/mediation;
  • interviewing; and
  • problem solving.
7. Feedback + Reviews keyboard_arrow_down

Informal feedback is continuous during the articling year, from your principal and directly from the lawyers assigning you specific tasks.  It is aimed at identifying areas in need of improvement as well as commending you for demonstrated strengths.  After seven or eight months, the firm undertakes a comprehensive assessment process with feedback for you on the work completed.

8. Compensation + Benefits keyboard_arrow_down

a) Salary

Articling students earn a salary of $55,000 per year, which is competitive with other law firms in Vancouver.

b) Benefits

Articling students receive a comprehensive benefits package which includes Provincial Medical, dental, extended health, short-term and long-term disability, AD&D, life insurance and travel insurance.

c) Continuing Legal Education + Memberships

In addition, articling students receive from Harper Grey:

  • a fitness subsidy;
  • payment of two CLE courses during the articling year;
  • payment of PLTC course fees and salary during PLTC;
  • payment of BC Law Society and call and admission fees; and
  • payment of Canadian Bar Association membership dues.

d) The Perks

Following are some of the perks articling students can expect to receive:

  • inclusion in all in-house education programs such as Lunch’n Learn presentations;
  • a student entertainment fund to help you get to know your fellow students;
  • in-house seminars focused specifically on student skills;
  • a private workspace; and
  • relative freedom to structure your day according to your work assignments.

e) Vacation

Articled students are entitled to 10 days of paid vacation, which may be taken as work permits.

9. Social Events + Functions keyboard_arrow_down

We are committed to promoting a healthy work/life balance and encourage everyone, including students, to participate in firm activities.  We make it easy for you to get to know staff and lawyers by hosting many social events and functions, including:

  • welcome lunch;
  • casual Friday get togethers in our lounge;
  • various firm sports teams and events;
  • quarterly firm wine & cheese events;
  • quarterly firm Red Cup socials;
  • annual firm summer picnic;
  • annual firm winter party; and
  • annual fall client reception.
10. Pro Bono + Community Involvement keyboard_arrow_down

Harper Grey is committed to pro bono service.  Our firm is a strong supporter of Access Pro Bono and many of our lawyers volunteer as supervising lawyers at pro bono clinics such as the Law Students Legal Advice Program.  Students are encouraged to participate.

Everyone at Harper Grey is very active in the community both individually and as a group.  We encourage everyone, including our students, to help out as volunteers with local charities and community groups and to band together to support various fund raising efforts.

Have a question?

Get in touch with Lori Williams