May 22, 2012
Historically, "articling" and "rotation" have gone hand in hand at Canada’s major firms. The thinking for the most part was that students should get as wide an exposure to practice areas and lawyers as possible.
(But) a rotation system is not necessarily ideal. And the less flexibility that is built into a rotation system, the less ideal it’s likely to be. Three or four month rotations, for example, can prove too brief for students to get a real taste of what working a file from beginning to end entails, leaving them with an incomplete perspective on what practising in an area really involves. As well, a rotation system means students can be forced off files just when their experience is becoming meaty. It also means that they may endure long months of work that doesn’t interest them before getting to something they find both challenging and stimulating.
These are among the reasons that Torys no longer has a rotation system. Instead, the firm has moved to what it calls a “workload system” that it believes will help students get more files in their areas of interest, which they are asked to provide to the firm before their articles start.
The workload system is online. "It’s like a Facebook page for each of the students," says Deborah Dalfen, Torys’ Director of Student Affairs. "On it, each student lists his or her area of interest as well as the files they are working on and with whom they are working."
Designated workload coordinators from among the firms’ associates have up-to-the-minute access to the system. "So when a lawyer seeks help, the coordinator can immediately see who has the capacity for and the interest in the file," Deborah explains.
The system allows students to remain on files throughout their articles, giving them a more comprehensive overview of practice. "The lawyers like it because they don’t have to continuously retrain students for the same file," Deborah says. "And students can develop their skills more effectively when they can sink their teeth into something from beginning to end, which often results in them getting more and more responsibility over time."
Read the full article here.