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Know your options

Editor's Desk
|Written By Gail J. Cohen

Whether consciously or not, from the moment you start law school, getting a job — summer jobs, articling, associate positions — borders on an obsession. Everyone worries about it, even top students like Michael Rosenberg who is profiled in this issue and will be clerking for Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. The wretched state of the economy doesn’t help either.

But, wait, Canadian Lawyer 4Students is here to help. Reporter Robert Todd set his sights on recruiters from law firms around the country to get their tips and tricks for getting noticed and doing well in your interviews. There’s gold in that there story, so mine it for all it’s worth. There aren’t too many other places you’ll have a gathering of law firm hiring glitterati letting you in on what they want to see and hear in a job interview. Turn to page 21 for the article but here are a few of the gems included therein:

My favourite, and it may seem mighty obvious but you’d be surprised how powerful it is, is to make sure you have a good handshake. A limp one, one proffered without enthusiasm or with too much enthusiasm, a damp one . . . anything other than a solid and well-meaning shake is likely to set a bad tone for the interview. It’s the first impression, so get it right.

Taking time to prepare in advance should also go without saying but again, many people show up to interviews without doing any pre-meeting research. Know the firm, have an idea of what more you want to find out about said firm, and have some basic information about who will be interviewing you. And as one of the recruiters quoted in the article says, don’t waste valuable face-to-face time asking questions that can be obtained from the firm’s web site or that are simply inappropriate.

Most importantly, know yourself and what you want to do or would enjoy doing in the practice of law. Our cover story looks at lawyers who opted out of private practice and are following a career in public service. Becoming a Crown has much more scope than simply prosecuting criminal cases. There are jobs at all levels of government, and at each a variety of options from policy and planning to enforcement to civil law and of course criminal/prosecution work. Many positions are also more in-house counsel type positions than anything else. And according to reports we’ve been hearing, governments are hiring in their usual numbers.

The same isn’t necessarily true of private practice firms. Canadian firms, who unlike their U.S. counterparts are not making frequent announcements about cutting hire backs or deferring start dates, are still going about their recruiting business albeit with caution. And if you’re not interested in a big-city living, there are also lots of other options. The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia branch has just set up a rural practice initiative, for example.

While the worry about jobs is inevitable, know that there are options out there that may not be the usual path taken but can still be interesting and fulfilling. Just think outside the box.


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