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2021-2022 Articling Recruitment Procedures

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Law Society of Ontario (“Law Society”) understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected legal employers and law students in a myriad of ways. Following consultation with stakeholders including employers, students and law schools, the Law Society updated these Recruitment Procedures in order to facilitate an equitable and timely process for all participants. Please review these timelines to ensure that you are up to date with the most recent timelines. If you have any questions about the Procedures, please contact the Law Society at articling@lso.ca.

It is the responsibility of all participants in the recruitment of articling students to ensure that the integrity of the process is maintained through compliance with these Procedures. Breach or circumvention of these Procedures should be reported in writing to the Law Society, to the attention of the Director, Licensing and Accreditation, by email to articling@lso.ca.

These Procedures are binding on all students and lawyers who participate in the recruitment of articling students in Ontario for positions intended to commence during the 2021-2022 Licensing Cycle. These Procedures are to be followed in spirit as well as in letter.

  • Preamble

    The purposes of these Procedures are to:

    1. provide an orderly recruitment process that promotes fair dealings between students and firms and among firms, and

    2. reduce interference with students’ studies and pressures on students.

    Participants are reminded that compliance with these Procedures is required under rule 6.2-1 of the Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Deliberate breach or circumvention of these Procedures by a lawyer may result in the commencement of proceedings for Professional Misconduct against the lawyer who participates in or authorizes the circumvention. Deliberate breach or circumvention of these Procedures by a student may result in a hearing by the Hearing Division of the Law Society Tribunal to determine if the student meets the good character requirement for call to the bar and admission as a licensee of the Law Society. 

    Please note that the dates mentioned in these Procedures are specific to each licensing cycle, and, as such, are updated on a yearly basis. These Procedures set out the earliest date on which certain recruitment activity can take place in any given year, and are only applicable to that specific licensing cycle. Firms may choose to hire after the earliest prescribed dates set out in these Procedures. 

    Comments with respect to these Procedures may be submitted for consideration by the Law Society at the end of the recruitment cycle. Comments may be submitted in writing to the attention of Counsel, Licensing and Accreditation, by email to articling@lso.ca.

  • A. Definitions

    The following definitions are provided for clarity:
    2021-2022 Licensing Cycle” means the period from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022.

    November 2 Interview Week” means the interview week for articling student positions in Toronto that starts at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020.

    “early offer” means an offer of an articling position made by a firm to a summer student with that firm.

    “firm(s)” means an employer of articling students and includes a law firm, sole practitioner, company or non-profit organization legal department, government department or ministry, and legal clinic but does not include the Supreme Court of Canada, the Tax Court of Canada, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice. Students appointed to serve the judges of these courts are not required to be recruited for such clerkships in accordance with these Procedures.

    Ottawa” means the municipal area incorporated as the City of Ottawa by the City of Ottawa Act, 1999, S.O. 1999, c. 14, Sched. E.

    “recruitment activity” means open houses, firm tours, and similar activities held for students, as well as any activity originated by a firm and directed toward specific individuals or targeted groups for the purpose of encouraging employment with that firm, including but not limited to the conducting of interviews and the making of offers of employment.

    Commentary: Activities that are not considered recruitment activities include but are not limited to participation in law school orientation, job fair and mooting events; dinners held for prize-winners; and seminars and other educational opportunities provided to students, participation in which is open to a recognized law school student group (or groups).

    student” means a person who reasonably expects to be eligible to commence articling in the 2021-2022 Licensing Cycle.

    summer student” means a law student hired or employed by a firm for the summer months (from May to August) of 2020 who reasonably expects to be eligible to commence articling in the 2021-2022 Licensing Cycle.

    Toronto” means the municipal area incorporated as the City of Toronto by the City of Toronto Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A.
    All times listed in these Procedures refer to the time in Toronto.

  • B. General Procedures Applicable to Recruitment by All Firms

    Commentary: The agreement between the principal and the student to engage in an articling placement carries professional obligations over and above the normal contractual obligations. Principals and students may refer to the Articling Program page on the Law Society of Ontario website for further information regarding the Articling Program.

    Part B of these Procedures also applies to both Parts C and D.

    1. Any firm in Ontario seeking to recruit a student who will commence an articling position in the 2021-2022 Licensing Cycle shall be governed by these Procedures with respect to the recruitment of that student.
    2. Firms must not participate in the recruitment of students unless they are confident that they will be able to offer a position to a qualified student.
    3. A firm that communicates its intention to interview a student must subsequently do so, unless the student has advised the firm that the student does not want to participate in the interview. Students must notify a firm of their intention to accept or decline an interview within 24 hours of being offered an interview.
    4. Interviews may be conducted in person on the premises of the interviewing firm or at another location, or remotely by telephone, videoconference, or other remote online communication platform. The location of interviews and the method(s) by which interviews are conducted are within the discretion of the interviewing firm. Interviews conducted remotely are subject to the same requirements and guidelines that apply to interviews conducted in person.
      Commentary: In scheduling their interviews, students are to allow for interview lengths of at least 90 minutes. Students who are interviewing in person should also allow for travel times between premises when scheduling their interviews.
      Commentary in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic: For such period as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a concern, the Law Society strongly encourages all employers to conduct interviews in a manner consistent with guidance from the relevant health authorities. The Law Society notes that remote interviews may assist in providing equitable access to all students and may be of particular assistance to students who may be facing a variety of challenges as result of COVID-19 due to their individual circumstances, including but not limited to health considerations, financial issues, and travel limitations. Employers are reminded that the provisions of the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 apply to the hiring process.
    5. Firms shall not make offers of employment on terms or in circumstances that do not give students a proper opportunity to consider the offer before they make a decision. Firms also shall not make offers that are conditional upon the position still being available when the acceptance is received or contingent on another candidate declining an offer.
      Commentary: When making offers and early offers, firms may communicate any relevant information about the terms of employment, including the position’s anticipated start date, compensation, and benefits. 
    6. When making an offer to a student, firms must communicate the period during which the offer shall remain open. A firm and student may mutually agree to extend this period.
    7. Throughout the recruitment process, firms shall not put undue pressure on students to accept an offer of employment or to reveal their intention to do so.
      Commentary: Students may voluntarily communicate their intention to accept a prospective offer from a firm if such an offer were made. However, attempts by firms to solicit these intentions, however veiled or indirect such communications by firms might be, are considered inappropriate. 
    8. Students shall deal with offers received as expeditiously as possible regardless of the stipulated time that the offer shall be allowed to remain open.
      Commentary: Failure to communicate a rejection of an offer as soon as a decision to reject is made prejudices not only the offering firm but also other students to whom the offer may next be made.
    9. Students who accept an offer shall immediately notify firms from whom they have an outstanding offer or with whom they have scheduled interviews. Students who have already accepted an offer shall not thereafter participate in interviews with other firms or accept offers subsequently received.
    10. Firms shall not knowingly make an offer to a student who has already accepted a position at another firm.
    11. The following rules apply to early offers:
      1. Firms may make an early offer of an articling position, in accordance with these Procedures, to any student who is or has previously been employed and/or hired as a summer student with that firm, at any time prior to the earliest time after which communications of offers of employment may otherwise be made by that firm.
      2. A student who receives an early offer must respond within two business days by notifying the firm that the student accepts, rejects, or is holding the offer. If a student accepts an early offer, a binding agreement is created between the student and the firm. If a student rejects an early offer, the firm is released from any obligations to the student with respect to the recruitment process for the 2021-2022 Licensing Cycle.
      3. Holding an early offer means that the offer remains valid and binding until the earlier of either:
        i. the student notifying the firm of acceptance or rejection; or
        ii. the earliest time until which offers of employment must be allowed to remain open in the city in which the firm is located.
      4. Firms shall not put undue pressure on students to communicate an acceptance or rejection of an early offer.Commentary: If a firm makes an early offer to a student that the student does not accept until after the firm has already scheduled interviews with other applicants for the position, and that position is no longer available as a result of such acceptance, then the firm must contact those other applicants to cancel those interviews as expeditiously as possible.
  • C. Recruitment by Firms Located in Toronto

    Part C of these Procedures applies to any firm, either within or outside Toronto, seeking to recruit a student who will spend a significant portion of the articling placement with the Toronto office of the firm. The general recruitment procedures outlined at Part B also apply to firms located in Toronto.

    1. Firms shall not set application deadlines earlier than Friday, September 25, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

    2. Student applications for interviews received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2020, shall be treated without regard for the date of receipt. 
      Commentary: In considering whether or not an interview will be granted and the time and date of such interview, the date of receipt of an application shall not be a factor if the application is received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2020.

    3. There shall be no recruitment activities for students who have applied for an articling position in the 2021-2022 Licensing Cycle between 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25 and 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020, except for the scheduling of interviews and of any other recruitment activities to be conducted during the November 2 Interview Week.

    4. The time and date of interviews shall not be communicated in any way until 8:00 a.m. on Friday, October 16, 2020.
      Commentary: A firm may communicate, at any time after September 25, 2020, (a) that it will or will not be inviting a student to interview during the November 2 Interview Week, (b) that the interviewing will be conducted in accordance with these Procedures, and (c) that it will or will not be inviting that student to a meal, reception or similar event during the November 2 Interview week. Firms may advise students in advance of dates and times of events to which all interviewees will be invited. However, firms shall not suggest the specific date or time of an expected interview prior to 8:00 a.m. on Friday, October 16, 2020, nor may students participate in the making of such appointments before that time.

    5. Interviews shall not be conducted prior to 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020.
      Commentary: In exceptional circumstances, the Law Society will allow students who are unable to attend for interviews during the November 2 Interview Week permission to attend interviews prior to the November 2 Interview Week. Applications for exemption must be made in writing to the Law Society and sent to the attention of Counsel, Licensing and Accreditation, by email to articling@lso.ca. Such exemptions apply only to the date(s) for interviewing; all firms and students are bound by these Procedures as to the date on which offers of employment may be made.

    6. During the November 2 Interview Week, interviews shall only be conducted between 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020, and 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2020. Between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2020, firms are prohibited from contacting students and students are prohibited from contacting firms. Recruitment activities are not restricted at other times during the November 2 Interview Week.

    7. No communication of offers of employment shall be made prior to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2020, subject to the exception that has been made for early offers indicated in Part B. All offers made at or after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open until at least 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2020. Any offers made at or after 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 5, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open for a reasonable period of time. 
  • D. Recruitment by Firms In Ottawa

    The general recruitment procedures outlined at Part B also apply to those firms governed by Part D.

    1. Firms shall not set application deadlines earlier than Monday, July 20, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

    2. Student applications for interviews received by the application deadline set by the firm shall be treated without regard for the date of receipt.
      Commentary: In considering whether or not an interview will be granted and the time and date of such interview, the date of receipt of an application shall not be a factor if the application is received by the application deadline.

    3. Subject to the exception that has been made for early offers indicated in Part B, no communication of offers of employment shall be made before 8:00 a.m. on Friday, August 28, 2020.

    4. All offers made on Friday, August 28, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open until 9:00 a.m. on Monday, August 31, 2020.

    5. All offers made between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 31, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open for 24 hours.

    6. Any offer made after 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 31, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open for a reasonable period of time.
  • E. Recruitment by Firms Located Outside of Toronto and Ottawa
    This section covers recruitment the areas of Ontario, outside of Toronto and Ottawa. The general recruitment procedures outlined at Part B also apply to those firms governed by Part E.
    1. Firms shall not set application deadlines earlier than Monday, July 20, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

    2. Student applications for interviews received by the application deadline set by the firm shall be treated without regard for the date of receipt.
      Commentary: In considering whether or not an interview will be granted and the time and date of such interview, the date of receipt of an application shall not be a factor if the application is received by the application deadline.

    3. Interviews shall not be conducted prior to Monday, July 20, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. In addition, a student shall not participate in interviews until after the student has completed all requirements of second year law school.

    4. Communication of offers of employment shall not be made prior to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13, 2020, subject to the exception that has been made for early offers indicated in Part B. Offers made at or after 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open until 9:00 a.m. on Friday, August 14, 2020. Any offers made at or after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 14, 2020, shall be allowed to remain open for a reasonable period of time. 
Terms or Concepts Explained