Opportunities for Student Advocacy at DSF

November 6th, 2015 by

By Ivan Merrow

This fall marks the beginning of recruitment season for summer student positions at Ontario law firms. Despite the challenging job market, the variety of opportunities for law students remains broad. Every firm has a different structure, clientele, location, practice mix, and articling program. How do you sort through the options when deciding where to apply? I recommend looking for a place where you can build advocacy skills early on.

About this time two years ago, I was attending Queen’s Law and found out about Devry Smith Frank LLP (“DSF”). Then and now I recognized that DSF was different. It is a full-practice firm with about 50 lawyers: large enough to give students a chance to try everything, but small enough that you never feel like a stranger. Three months into my articles, I have come to appreciate that the opportunities available for students at DSF are exceptional.

During my summer experience at DSF I had the chance to build oral and written advocacy skills under lawyers’ supervision. At a growing firm like DSF there is plenty of hands-on work to go around. Early on I had the chance to attend two different intake interviews with clients. After they retained our firm, I performed case law research and drafted their statements of claim. My first drafts had more red ink than black after my supervisors’ revisions, but those early lessons stuck with me. As an articling student I have applied those lessons while assisting lawyers with early drafts of facta, motion materials, memoranda, and affidavits.

Ask any lawyer and they will tell you that the most important way to build advocacy skills is to spend time arguing cases. I did not argue motions as a summer student; however, I had the chance to advocate on behalf of a client at a small claims settlement conference. After being given the file by my principal, I was told to get familiar with it, attend small claims court, and get it settled. That was my first experience negotiating in a formal courtroom setting on a client’s behalf. I felt like a lawyer.

Now as an articling student, I regularly draft legal materials and attend court on motions. While you are in law school, try to seek out opportunities to write, advocate, and serve others. Build skills that set you apart early. If you would like to learn more about DSF please email us at Info@devrylaw.ca

Good luck in your job search and preparing for the December exam period.

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