Shared articles registry – help for small firms seeking students

A shared articles registry — hosted on the CBA website at www.cba.org/BC/initiatives/articles — will help law firms attract articled students who are interested in splitting their articles among more than one firm. The registry lends support to law firms that may want to employ articled students, but may not have quite enough work or variety of work to offer complete articles. This is a common dilemma for small firms, those in small communities and boutique practices.

One way small firms and students can accommodate each other is through “shared” articles. While articled students usually complete articles under one principal, the Law Society may permit a student to complete sequential periods of articles in more than one firm and under separate principals under Rule 2-39. Known as an “assignment of articles,” this option is explained on the Law Society website: see Licensing & Membership/Articling at www.lawsociety. bc.ca.

Not surprisingly, it’s time-consuming for students to identify, pursue and secure articling opportunities while carrying a full course load at law school. This becomes even more of a burden for a student who is trying to round out a full term of articles through arrangements with more than one small or boutique firm. The shared articles registry is expected make the process of offering and finding shared articles easier.

The registry is a joint project of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, the Career Services Offices of the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria law faculties, and the Law Society.

Firms can use the service to advertise their need for an articled student, specifying length of articles available and practice areas covered. Students can search for available articles and take steps to work out a shared articles program that meets the requirements of the Law Society Admission Program.

The Law Society’s Credentials Committee, in considering a student’s application for shared articles, will expect confirmation that:

  • each principal of a student will provide adequate and appropriate supervision;
  • systems are in place to prevent conflicts of interest between or among firms in the representation of clients;
  • systems are in place to maintain confidentiality in each firm;
  • there is some continuity in a student’s work on tasks or files and the student is able to complete work before leaving one firm for the next. (This is particularly important if a student proposes a shared arrangement that would involve splitting time between two firms for the whole of the articling period. The more usual arrangement is for a student to spend several months of articles in one firm followed by the balance of articles in the second firm.)
  • all requirements of the Articling Skills and Practice Checklist will be fulfilled.

In every case, it is at the Credentials Committee’s discretion whether to approve a particular arrangement for shared articles.

If your firm is interested in shared articles, be sure to bookmark the registry and come back to post your position. Take the time now to familiarize yourself with current articling requirements and the qualifications of each principal. All the details are available in the Licensing & Membership section of the Law Society website.