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Abelard

Offered "trial period" for articling

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46 minutes ago, ghoulzrulez said:

Did this firm actually post an articling position (i.e. was actively seeking an articling student), or was this a situation where you reached out on your own?

It's a posted position. It didn't say that it was unpaid until I was emailed about it after I applied. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Abelard said:

Hey guys,

First time posting here. During an articling interview last week I was offered a "trial period" of one week (which the firm assess your performance before committing to a 10-month term). This is an unpaid articling position. I am wondering if this is "standard" practice and the likelihood of survival. 

Any insights would be much appreciated!

I basically agree with everyone else so far. This sounds like a bad position: even paid employers don't ask you to audition.

Also, the licensing procedures state:

I'm not sure if that specific provision is just for the formal recruit, but my understanding was that even outside the recruitment window, you are obligated to stop seeking articles, once you have accepted an offer (standard disclaimer: not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice just information, and possibly erroneous information at that, do your own due diligence, blah blah blah). I'm not sure what impact, if any, accepting this trial will have on your obligations regarding other applications.

In any case, I wouldn't agree to such a conditional, ambiguous offer, when there will be other positions available until August (or whenever it is you need to start articling, without delaying your call to the Bar -- are you in Ontario?) and beyond.

 

Edited by realpseudonym

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18 hours ago, lioness said:

The bold is a bit of an overstatement. They are never ideal, and often can be exploitative, but there are situations where they are mutually beneficial and the best option some students have. 

I think it also depends on the firm and the nature of the articling position.

I interviewed for one position which wasn't unpaid, but offered little as far as compensation (about $20,000 annualized). Even though I didn't end up articling there, I didn't find the low pay offensive or bothersome. The interviewer explained that they simply couldn't afford to pay more, as the firm does a lot of social justice work (mostly consent and capacity matters), where the vast majority of the work they do is pro bono or Legal Aid certificates.  They also didn't expect their articling students to work crazy hours, hit billable targets, etc. - they really did consider it more of a learning experience. I kind of thought to myself, "They're not going to generate income as a result of me being there. I get to do interesting work. They're willing to pay me something, which means they see me as having value."

On the other hand, I once responded to an articling ad where the principal indicted in a phone call that the position wasn't paid, but there was the potential for hire back. When I spoke to their current articling student, she indicated that she was expected to work from 8:30am - 6:30 pm, she had a billable hour target, and that most of the firm's clients were businesses (i.e. cash clients). This just seemed exploitative. The kicker was that this was an employment law firm. 

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I wouldn't entertain this even if desperate, I would do the LPP instead. 

A friend of my sister's did free articling and was mistreated while only doing menial paperwork. He ended up quitting the law afterwards. I suspect if he were at my firm, he would love it. 

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I would have to agree with everyone else. I'm currently articling right now and some of my friends didn't find positions until June. But having waited, they're with firms that are reputable and treat them well. Please try not to settle. 10 months (or 12, depending on where you are) is a long time to be unhappy.

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Unpaid articles should be banned. It's abusive and takes advantage of students who are about to become fellow lawyers. It belittles the profession as a whole.

I'm curious about how many students a year accept unpaid articles and how they are treated.  

I would do the LPP as well. The folks I know who did the LPP are doing fine now. 

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Posted (edited)

Keep looking or do the LPP. I hate to say this, but I have never heard of an unpaid articling position ending well. As people have already mentioned - menial jobs, no real experience, crazy hours. From what I've heard from friends who did the LPP, you actually get some valuable training and access to useful networking events. I believe most of them were compensated for articling too. It's only March no reason to worry. I walked away from a PAID position because it was an awful environment. I would be very hesistant to work for a place like this.

Edited by Realtalk

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Ps - this reminds me of the time a mid size Toronto firm asked me to write a long research paper prior to an interview. It was on an extremely specific topic. I knew they were trying to get free work for one of their cases. I politely told them off and never looked back. 

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On 3/6/2019 at 12:32 PM, Malicious Prosecutor said:

For what it is worth. I have never heard of a one week trial period.  I question what worth it would be in any event - in your first week you're A: not going to know enough to do any meaningful work, and B: even the most useless employee could hold it together for one week to show up on time and keep their shoes tied.

I forgot how much I love your posts MP.

Once again, you hit it out of the park.

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3 hours ago, HumptyDumpty said:

I forgot how much I love your posts MP.

Once again, you hit it out of the park.

I feel like it would be bad form for me to like this post, but I did want to thank you for your kind words.

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On 3/6/2019 at 5:33 PM, Abelard said:

It's a posted position. It didn't say that it was unpaid until I was emailed about it after I applied. 

I highly recommend that you seek better opportunities. As others have mentioned, there are positions opening up around this time and they generally continue until July or August. Don't settle for this because you want to get it done and over with; wait it out a bit and check with your CDO to see if they could put you in a directory of students looking for articling positions. If worse comes to worst, you can always consider the LPP. Deadline to switch to LPP should be end of May.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dilemma said:

.... If worse comes to worst, you can always consider the LPP. Deadline to switch to LPP should be end of May.

I would go one further and suggests that if you declare expected participation in the LPP by the May deadline, then you have a cost-free option to switch out of the program until some date in August (if you find articles you prefer to the LPP). The cost of the LSO licensing program is the same, and allows for switching out of the LPP by that later deadline.

Disclaimer: check dates and rules, as they may have changed somewhat for the licensing cycle starting in May 2019.

Edited by cluj
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One week is WAY too short. Others have mentioned it: onboarding takes time and even in 4-month summer positions students won't get a full feel for the working experience because large files can span many months. My knee-jerk reaction to the offer is to ask what information about your performance will  be obtained in that one-week that won't otherwise be evidenced through a cover letter, CV, reference letter, and writing sample combo. Coupled with the fact that this is for an unpaid position, I would be highly skeptical of the offer.

Also, good on the lawstudents.ca community for offering solid positivity during a stressful time for the OP.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/6/2019 at 1:03 PM, Abelard said:

Yes I’m in 3L, and getting a little desperate. 

The interview that led me to my articling job happened in late March, and I got the offer in early April. I knew others who were hired in to the summer. I even got an interview offer from the Crown Law Office Civil in June my year although I had to turn it down since I already had another job lined up. I always thought they must have had a bunch of people flake out or something for them to be restarting the process that late. Point is, there is still lots of hiring going on even though it feels like you've already been searching for ages. Don't get discouraged, just keep pushing forward!!

ETA:

The trial period sounds pointless and a waste of time anyway, but I certainly wouldn't do it for unpaid articles. And someone correct me if I'm wrk g but I thought the LSO was changing the rules to put a stop to unpaid articles anyway?

Edited by ericontario
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So they need a week to decide if they will deign to keep you on as an articling slave?

 

It's crazy they didn't tell you the position was unpaid until after you applied... I hope you find something OP, I am sorry you feel like you even need to consider anyone this shady.

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On 3/7/2019 at 12:06 PM, ghoulzrulez said:

I think it also depends on the firm and the nature of the articling position.

I interviewed for one position which wasn't unpaid, but offered little as far as compensation (about $20,000 annualized). Even though I didn't end up articling there, I didn't find the low pay offensive or bothersome. The interviewer explained that they simply couldn't afford to pay more, as the firm does a lot of social justice work (mostly consent and capacity matters), where the vast majority of the work they do is pro bono or Legal Aid certificates.  They also didn't expect their articling students to work crazy hours, hit billable targets, etc. - they really did consider it more of a learning experience. I kind of thought to myself, "They're not going to generate income as a result of me being there. I get to do interesting work. They're willing to pay me something, which means they see me as having value."

On the other hand, I once responded to an articling ad where the principal indicted in a phone call that the position wasn't paid, but there was the potential for hire back. When I spoke to their current articling student, she indicated that she was expected to work from 8:30am - 6:30 pm, she had a billable hour target, and that most of the firm's clients were businesses (i.e. cash clients). This just seemed exploitative. The kicker was that this was an employment law firm. 

Those Ferraris don't buy themselves. ;) 

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