In the legal profession, as in many other professions, the art of mentoring is being slowly replaced by practicums, co-op placements, and a form of articling where the focus is on billing as opposed to learning. I know of very few firms anymore that will pay a decent salary to allow a student-at-law, in return for for shlepping volumes of materials, the privilege of sitting and observing a day or two of a serious trial or complicated motion. And I do mean observe. Not take notes or chase down some last minute research, but just sit and take it all in. I dare say I learned more in 2 days in the gallery of a courtroom at the old 145 Queen Street West family court observing an acrimonious divorce trial (are there any other kind?), where the wealthy but estranged spouses were represented on one side by my mentor, the late (all too soon, sadly) H. Douglas Stewart, Q.C. and the esteemed Malcolm Kronby, than I did in 3 years of law school. I was afforded the opportunity to witness: the style and substance of oral advocacy at its finest; the art of simple but effective cross-examination; the obvious and not so obvious benefits of knowing your case inside-out and backward; as well as a perfect interplay of fearless advocacy and courtroom decorum; not to mention the civility with which the each litigator treated his adversary and his adversary’s client.If what I see of young lawyers in court and at discoveries lately is any indication, I can infer that all too often this sort of mentoring is not part of most firms’ articling programmes. True, being an effective mentor comes at a short term financial cost. It takes you away from otherwise billable hours. It means there are times where you could have your student, junior, law clerk or paralegal at their desk producing but instead you take them to court with you. However, in the long run this will pay high dividenends to your firm, your clients, and you personally, not to mention the profession at large. And we all owe that to each other and the public who place their trust in our hands. After all, good mentoring, not unlike good parenting, is more about leading by example rather than by lecture.
Interesting debate over LSUC paralegal regulation in Law Times this week: http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201207169220/Headline-News/LSUC-touts-success-of-paralegal-regulation .
The concern seems to be that the LSUC is allowing too many schools the accreditation to graduate paralegals without regard for the realities of the economy. It is not just paralegals who should have this concern. With the lack of availability of good articling positions, many young lawyers are about to find that they are in the same situation as those of the paralegals.
Welcome to my blog,
While I don’t expect to ever dispense the type of wisdom on this blog that you will find on the blogs of my professional colleagues Ernest Guiste http://ejguisteonlawandjustice.blogspot.ca/ or James Morton http://jmortonmusings.blogspot.ca/.
I do intend from time to time to blog on current legal, political, and life issues. I will also use this blog to post links to noteworthy articles from other sites. I hope in the fullness of time to create something that will make visiting this blog worth your while.