This month’s cover story, and really a lot of the talk of the town here in Ontario, centres on the shortage of articling spaces for all the lawyers in training graduating from law school and wanting to get into the practice of law — or at least who want to get called to the bar so they can tick it off their list of accomplishments and then go on to run a successful enterprise using their law-school smarts! The problem appears to be that there are more law school grads than there are spots for them to get their mandatory 10 months or so of training. It’s such a crisis that the Law Society of Upper Canada has struck a task force to examine the issue.
But it seems to me that there are other options if students are interested in taking a non-traditional route. For the last few years — and this is all across the country, not just in Ontario — there have been warnings trumpeted about the greying of the bar, especially in smaller communities. In fact, we’ve run many stories about lawyers in towns across the country who want to retire but can’t because they can’t find anyone to take over their practices. At the same time, there are law firms in places like Thunder Bay, Ont., as mentioned in the article, that want articling students but can’t find willing candidates. Big firms aren’t the only places to get training, and those willing to take an alternate route can still find success.
My journalistic career is a perfect example. When I graduated, it was in the middle of a recession and there were very few jobs. In order to make myself more attractive, I travelled to Africa and did freelance work (this is before everyone did it!). I was willing to go anywhere. I got a job at the newspaper in Thunder Bay, had that great experience of living there for a few years and then leveraged that into a job back in the Toronto area. I got fantastic experience, I learned to fish, I kayaked and skied 15 minutes from home, and I saw my country in a new way. I would hazard to say I’m fairly successful now; other journalists I worked with are now bureau chiefs for major news organizations, and managing editors at newspapers across the country. Take the chance of choosing the road less travelled. You can still end up where you want to be.