The Shared Articles Registry was developed jointly by the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch (CBABC); the Career Services Offices of the law faculties of the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria; and the Law Society of British Columbia.
Law students and some smaller and boutique/specialized firms have expressed a need for a program designed to make shared articles readily accessible. The Shared Articles Registry responds directly to this need, creating a searchable database where firms may post their need for an articled student, specifying length of articles available, and practice areas covered. Students can search for available articles in order to assemble a shared articles program that meets the requirements of the LSBC.
Students are now finding it challenging to secure articling positions in British Columbia in the traditional fashion - with one firm and one principal. Students have found they need to be more creative and proactive in planning their articling experience. To meet this challenge, a number of students have expressed interest in a shared or split articles option. This option involves a student working for two or more firms and two or more principals during their articling term, and allows the student to gain experience in a variety of work environments and settings, to learn from, and be mentored by, more than one principal, and to be exposed to several practice areas. However, students generally have found it very time consuming to identify, research, pursue and secure possible articling opportunities while carrying a full course load at law school. This becomes even more of a resource burden on students when they are looking at articling at more than one firm.
At the same time, some law firms have expressed a desire to employ articled students, as well as noting they experienced some difficulty providing complete articles – particularly smaller firms, sole practitioners, and firms with highly specialized practice areas, who are either unable to employ an articled student for the full term, or to provide sufficient exposure to the required practice areas. Firms interested in shared articles have found coordinating assignments of articles, or split articles to be cumbersome and time intensive – some have ceased to hire articling students as a result. Some lawyers expressed an interest in developing an “articling pool” in their community, where articled students would be available to a number of lawyers. Some lawyers have requested a third party to coordinate, administer and maintain a database or registry.
The Shared Articles Registry provides a centralized resource for students and law firms who are interested in the shared articles option. It is important to note that this type of articling experience is a unique and innovative one and is not intended to replace the traditional articling experience in which most students will engage.
Benefits of Shared Articles to Law Students
- Assists students to coordinate articles with two or more firms, and create a program that fits their interests, and meets the Law Society requirements regarding practice areas and skill development;
- Students may article at specialized/boutique firms and still receive a broad range of training that meets the LSBC requirements, by sharing the work term with another firm;
- Students may discover another community by combining articles with a firm outside the Lower Mainland or Victoria;
- More articling opportunities are created, as firms that may not have previously hired an articled student for a full nine-month term are offering partial articles; and
- The firms listed on the Shared Articles Registry have expressed an interest in participating in shared articles, and are willing to be approached by students.
Benefits of Shared Articles to Law Firms
- Smaller firms that may not have enough work or other resources to employ an articled student for the full nine month articling period are able to share an articling student with another firm;
- Firms outside the Lower Mainland and Victoria may attract more students, as they are able to offer partial articles towards a student’s shared articles program;
- Office space and/or computer equipment for a student that may not be available in one law firm may be available in another firm that participates in a shared articles;
- Salaries and benefits may be shared between the participating law firms over the nine month articling period; and
- The minimum of three areas of practice required by Law Society of British Columbia that an articled student must be exposed to may be met by more than one participating firm.
Law Society Requirements
The Law Society of BC has some concerns that need to be addressed when firms and students are contemplating a shared articles situation. A shared articles proposal must ensure that:
- Adequate and appropriate supervision will be provided by each principal (in addition to the requirement that a principal must have practiced for at least seven years in order to be approved by the Law Society);
- Conflicts of interest in the representation of clients between the two firms are prevented;
- Systems are in place in order to maintain issues of confidentiality between the two firms;
- The student who is splitting time during each week between two or more firms (as opposed to working for discrete larger blocks of time for one firm and then moving to the next firm) has some continuity of work on tasks or files, and is able to complete work before leaving one firm for the next; and
- The necessary requirements of the Articling Skills and Practice Checklist are fulfilled.
For more information regarding LSBC requirements regarding shared articles, please go to "Can I arrange for split or shared articles to complete LSAP?”.