May 18, 2020
A recent article in The Globe and Mail looks at the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on job placements for law students and junior lawyers across Canada, as well as its effect on law schools and legal employers. According to author Christine Dobby, the pandemic has “upended school marks, delayed bar exams and thrown summer internships and future jobs into question,” and while some job placements have been rescinded, career development officers at law schools in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver say those numbers have been small. The article notes that recruitment professionals at several Bay Street firms have said they did not consider cancelling student programs to cut costs, “highlighting the importance of a steady stream of junior lawyers to their business models.”
“This is our talent pool and this is literally our most valuable asset. We need to protect them,” Danna Donald, a commercial partner and Chair of Osler’s students committee tells The Globe and Mail, noting that for its Toronto office alone, the firm still plans to employ 38 students over the summer and 26 articling students later this year. The firm also offered jobs to 20 out of 22 of its current articling students and Danna states that as the firm shifted to working from home, the students adapted easily and even billed more hours than during the same period last year.
Danna also recalls that after the 2008 financial crisis, the firm had a few years with smaller classes of summer and articling students, which led to fewer junior lawyers. “We know we need a certain minimum number of associates and students to fulfill our work and client needs.”
For more information, read Christine Dobby’s full article, “Largest law firms stay the course with summer programs, employ students at home” in The Globe and Mail.