The Articling Chronicles
Articling with the Province
Student-at-Law, Alberta Justice
Articling with Alberta Justice is everything I hoped it would be. It is, first and foremost, a challenge. I have eight rotations, probably the most rotations of any article in the Province. Each rotation demands that I learn new law and new skills, and that I make excellent first impressions on a whole new office full of people.
Highlights for me, so far, have included making my own novel argument on judicial review in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. I have also made some epic submissions for the Walleye and Northern Pike fish species of Alberta, resulting in fines of $1000 a fish for catching them illegally in Lac St Anne. I never thought I’d be quoting our Alberta Court of Appeal on fish!
The hardest part of articling is turning OFF the law brain to enjoy other things: luckily, my puppy is hard to ignore! He won Weinerama 2014 (which is exactly what it sounds like, a weiner dog competition featuring weiner dog races). He beat 48 other pups to take home those medals!
Articling with the Courts
Student-at-Law, Alberta Court of Appeal
I am a graduate of the U of A Faculty of Law from earlier this year, and I am currently clerking at the Alberta Court of Appeal (ABCA) in Calgary. I seriously cannot recommend this experience highly enough; if given the opportunity: CLERK!
Clerking is an article that has a student-at-law’s principal as a judge, rather than a lawyer. Instead of spending everyday in a law firm, clerking students spend their time behind the scenes at the courts. The judge that a student is paired with depends on the level of court that he or she is clerking at. In Alberta, there are students in both Calgary and Edmonton at the Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench, and Provincial Court. Thus, my principal is one of the Calgary-based justices at the ABCA.
At the ABCA, the majority of my work is longer term. We do pre-hearing and post-hearing work on anything the justices or legal counsel have questions about, so the legal issues are quite varied depending on what we will be hearing that month. The legal topics are almost always meaty and interesting; the issues were good enough to have been granted permission to appeal. Clerking students also have a different Education Plan with the Law Society of Alberta, so we have to spend a certain amount of time observing in court. All of the judges are incredibly welcoming, so I often get to discuss what I viewed with them afterwards.
In terms of its advantages, clerking is awesome. Where do I start?! The exposure to judges is amazing; I work with many more judges at the ABCA than just my principal, and all of them have been such fantastic mentors. The work I do is very rewarding; it is an awesome feeling when you’ve conquered (or, at least, attempted to conquer) a complex legal issue. Also, generally, having a clerking student is an asset to law firms, so if you have a clerkship you might have an easier time finding an article or getting hired back. There is so much else I could add but, as a final note, the hours are great!
That said, you don’t clerk for the money. (I can only speak for Calgary, as the articling wages are certainly higher than clerking, although hourly you might make more at the courts!) Also, I will be called to the bar later than all of my classmates. All clerking students in Alberta spend ten months with the courts, then another five months with their law firms.
Applications are due on December 1, 2014 for the 2016-2017 articling year. All of the requirements and deadlines are posted on the Alberta Courts websites. If you have any questions about clerking with the ABCA, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Enjoy the rest of law school!