February 01, 2018
Despite an already decorated career, partner Sheila Block continues to add strings to her bow. Her latest venture sees her an advisor and instructor at the Law Practice Program at Ryerson University.
Sheila sat down with Precedent to discuss her new role, articling, and why change is a good thing. An excerpt from the article is below.
You can view the full Q&A style article here.
What makes your trial-advocacy training, which is a big part of the Law Practice Program, so valuable to students?
It offers candidates structured training, with a focus on practical skills. For example, candidates learn how to speak to a judge and present a case professionally. They also learn how a trial unfolds. These are things most articling students don’t learn, but that are terribly important.
Some lawyers cling to the belief that articling is the only way to train lawyers. What are they getting wrong?
Look, it would be great if everyone could get a terrific articling job, where they worked under fabulous practitioners who taught them everything they know. But guess what? That doesn’t always happen.
The quality of articling experiences is all over the map. Many are great, but some students spend too much time on repetitive tasks, such as document review and due diligence, and not enough time on work that will help them grow. Firms are also hiring fewer students, at a time when there are a growing number of law grads. So there aren’t as many top-notch jobs for all of them.
So change is a good thing?
Absolutely. Look at women. When I entered my firm, there were no women. Law firms thought, "We can’t hire women, because as soon as they get married and have children, they’ll be gone." That was a prevailing attitude by very decent people. These days, diversity—and not just gender diversity—is an ideal that we’re trying to put into practice.
You can read more about Sheila's and Torys' litigation and dispute resolution work on its practice page.