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Why You Should Consider Articling with a Municipality

  • March 13, 2024
  • Sean Ovas

One of the biggest challenges I faced in law school was trying to figure out which area of law I wanted to practice. Over the years, I’ve pictured myself working in quite a few different practice areas. At some points I thought I would end up in environmental law, then litigation, and then family law. Even going into articling this year, I still didn’t know for sure where I would end up. Several of my classmates, and even lawyers that I’ve met, have gone through similar struggles. Figuring out your future career path seems to be a common struggle that many law students encounter at some point.

In law school, students learn about the many different pathways that they can take after graduating. Not only can students choose from a variety of practice areas, but they must decide if they want to work for a boutique firm, a big law firm, the government, or even clerk with a court. Over the years, I’ve never been sure which pathway was right for me. For instance, during law school, I found it hard to get enough exposure to specific practice areas to determine if I could work in them over the long term. One solution for many students is to article with a law firm that offers a rotation program. This type of experience exposes articling students to several areas of law. Unfortunately, not everyone can article in a law firm with a rotation program. However, as I’ve come to realize, its not just law firms that offer this type of rotational articling experience. Law students who are unsure of what they want to do can have a similar rotation experience by articling with a municipality. Municipal legal departments can offer their articling students a chance to get hands-on experience in many different areas of law.

I started articling with the Regional Municipality of Peel (“Peel”) in July. Peel is an upper-tier municipal government made up of the City of Mississauga, the City of Brampton, and the Town of Caledon. Peel’s Legal Services department has approximately 20 lawyers who work across various practice areas, including business law, property law, and dispute resolution. Based on my experience so far, there are several reasons why I would recommend that every law student should consider articling with a municipality.


One of the main benefits of articling with a municipality is that you will get the chance to assist with work from a variety of practice areas. This is a great way to figure out which areas of law you enjoy, and which ones you don’t. Also, if you are interested in certain areas, your supervisors will likely even try to help you find that type of work, so you can try it out. Everyone is supportive in this regard. Before starting with Peel, I always knew that I enjoyed environmental law, and if possible, wanted to try it out in real practice. When I started with Peel, I mentioned to a few of our lawyers that I wanted to try working in this area if any files came up. Shortly after, I was given the opportunity to assist one of our lawyers with a file that involved environmental law issues. I was specifically able to help analyze Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act. After I finished this task, the lawyers continued to give me this same type of work. I now know for sure that I can see myself working in environmental law in the future. For all the other types of law that I become interested in this year, I will have the same opportunity to try them out.


Another benefit of doing your articling with a municipal government, like Peel, is that you get lots of opportunities to do both barrister and solicitor work. Entering my articling term, I felt that I wanted to go into litigation, but was still considering solicitor side work. I’ve only worked with Peel for a few months, but so far, I’ve had the chance to observe and do a lot of both barrister and solicitor work.

In terms of barrister work, during my first few months, I’ve shadowed our lawyers while they appeared before different tribunals, like the Ontario Land Tribunal, and at mediations. I’ve even appeared before the Small Claims Court for my own files on a few occasions. In terms of solicitor work, I’ve already reviewed agreements of purchase and sale and business contracts and have learned how to do real estate title searches. At the end of my articling, I will have lots of experiences to look back on when deciding if I still want to do litigation and barrister work.


If you are a law student, like me, who isn’t sure of what they want to practice in the future, I would highly recommend doing your articling term with a municipality. This is a great opportunity that many students do not always consider during the job search. During my own search, I knew that students could article with municipalities, but I had no idea how rewarding the experience would be. I didn’t realize just how many types of law that I would get exposed to.

Overall, through my articling term with Peel, I’ve gotten a much better idea of what types of law I want to practice. I think that anyone in the same shoes as me will find articling with a municipality to be just as beneficial for their career.

About the Author

Sean Ovas graduated from the University of Ottawa’s Juris Doctor program in 2023. After previously working with small and medium-sized law firms, he is now completing his articling term with the Regional Municipality of Peel. His current areas of interest include litigation, and municipal and development law.

A version of this article was originally published on the OBA Municipal Law Section’s articles page.