Articling Application Prep: Evaluating Yourself as a Candidate
Updated: Mar 7, 2020
On Sunday I started a week-long series designed to prepare you for articling applications. We took a look at why writing your applications with a cohesive and personal narrative in mind is important and I outlined key steps you should start thinking through well before the July application deadlines. Monday, we tackled the first step—defining your legal interests—and if you haven't had a chance to read it yet, I highly recommend you follow that little blue link and have a look.
Legal interests defined, it's time to evaluate yourself as a candidate. This step is about creating a cohesive narrative and ensuring that all the elements of your articling applications support and speak to eachother. Take a look at the key elements of your application and evaluate the story they tell, making sure it jives with the narrative we started defining in Monday's post.
Your Resume & Extracurricular Experience
Does your resume support your legal interest(s); do you have work, research, or volunteer experience in the specific area(s) of law you hope to specialise in?
Of course, general legal experience and even some varied experience is valuable as it makes you look well-rounded. However, if you are going to write on your cover letters that you are super interested/passionate about Tech Law, or Banking Law, or Real Estate Law etc., it helps to have some tangible experiences to back that up.
But, this doesn't have to be exclusively employment. Participating in practice-specific moots or negotiation competitions are great ways to get practical legal experience in your interest area. So is being a research assistant for a professor in your interest area (as a bonus they'll probably give you a reference as well!).
Volunteering at legal clinics is another way to gain requisite experience and align yourself with Canadian students. Around three-fourths of Law students surveyed across Canada and the USA in 2010 indicated that they were engaged in pro-bono or other volunteer work, so this has become almost an expectation of your resume. Plus, there are plenty of practice-specific clinics you get engaged in.
All of the above are things you can doing now, whether you are in the last few months of law school or just starting out!
Does at least one of your references work or teach in your intended practice area(s)? It's certainly not a requirement to have references from within your legal interest area but it helps bind your legal narrative together and keep your applications cohesive. That said, variety is also good so I would recommend that only one of your references is focused but that will really depend on the type of firm you are applying to as well (i.e. multi-practice or boutique).
Your Writing Sample
Do you have writing samples that address key topic(s) in your practice area(s)? Again, not an absolute requirement and you should choose a writing sample that best reflects your skills. But, if that sample happens to be in your interest area, bonus!
Future Course List
Some firms ask you to list any future law courses you intend to take (particularly on summer associate applications). If you are graduating this year, or have already graduated, you can always submit your NCA exam topics or if you are planning on doing an LL.M, outline the courses you intend to take . A majority of the NCAs are pre-defined for you but at least one of your electives can be tailored to your interest area (e.g. corporate law). Naturally, if you are doing a specialised LL.M this should also speak to your interest area.
Hopefully you've found this helpful! See you later this week for the next instalment where we will discuss your commercial awareness strategy.