Articling During COVID-19 – A Municipal Perspective

  • November 10, 2020
  • Eric Cheng, articling student - Legal Services, The Regional Municipality of Peel

Fall is upon us and many new law graduates are just starting their articles or well into their articling term. COVID-19 has delayed the start for many students as principals have had to adjust to the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Law Society of Ontario has responded by providing the option of a shortened term, such that candidates are not prejudiced by this delay and still able meet their (administrative) call to the bar. This is just one of the many changes this cohort of candidates can expect during this challenging time.

Articling can be a daunting task even during “normal” times. You are tossed into a new world which many were only previously exposed to through a clinical intensive or a few months in the summer. You are expected to learn the core competencies of the practice of law, engage meaningfully with colleagues and clients, and launch yourself into a successful career. Articling during a pandemic means many articling students find they now must reach these same goals without the convenience of in-person mentoring sessions, impromptu assignments, and personal client interactions. Experiences may vary greatly depending on one’s personal circumstances and the organization they are articling with. This article will touch upon my articling experience with a large upper-tier municipality.

I began my articles with a municipality in July 2020. The large majority of the Legal Services team had been working remotely since mid-March. In keeping with this practice, I attended on my first day only to collect my laptop and attend a small meet and greet. Moving forward I was not expected to go into the office on a regular basis. Initially, I was not excited at the prospect of starting my new role remotely. However, identifying as a mature student graced me with the many distractions younger students may not need to split their time with – such as child-care responsibilities. Therefore, I ended up embracing the lack of commute and isolation from potential virus exposure with open arms.