What is articling?
a 10-month apprenticeship that Ontario law students have to do, after law school, on top of the bar exam, to become lawyers. There are alternatives (the LPP program), but this is the established route. The Toronto market is highly competitive, and students work long & hard.
It is completely normal for students to eat at their desks, work weekends or be at the office around midnight or later.
There's no real limit to the hours students are asked to work or the way they're treated.
What do articling students do?
Students may be asked to do anything, from personal errands for the lawyers, to mind-numbing tasks that go on ad infinitum (e.g. checking the footnote numbers match the references they should), to administrative court appearances, to tasks that are way above their experience. Mostly, it's research. For hours. For days.
What's a principal?
One lawyer who is responsible for overseeing an articling student's work. That lawyer is the one who reports to the Law Society, at the end of the 10 months, and says whether or not the student has demonstrated the capacity to become a lawyer. Shirley is Tegan's principal. It's a lot of power over a student's life.
Are students paid?
There is no actual control set on how students are compensated. They can be paid well, or they can be paid nothing but an honorarium. After tens of thousands of dollars in costs on tuition, books, exam fees & general life expenses during law school, this is tough - to say the least.
Week 1 of 40 ...
Articling is 10 months long; that's 40 weeks.
Season 1 of Fail Better takes place over Week 1 of Tegan's articling term.
Photos by Devon Slack