“This program is a two-year, four-semester program,” says Patty-Ann Sullivan, coordinator of the Law Clerk diploma undertaking at Centennial College. “They are taught the theory of the law. They also do a lot of hands-on application of the theory. So what we do, for example, in Family Law is I have them filling in divorce documents. In Real Estate, they actually work in the lab with the real estate legal software they are going to be using when they are working in the workplace. Throughout the entire program, they are learning the law and then applying the law. Our faculty members work with the students and meet with them individually to put together a wish list of what they would like to do for their work placement — whether it’s working for a law firm or a corporation or the government or in a courtroom setting. Our faculty then contacts the various employers, arranges the interview and the students are then working for the entire 15-week semester, four days a week.”
Patty-Ann provides a wonderful overview of this Law Clerk program. Let’s take a look at some of its specific details. First and foremost, those who wish to apply must have completed an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. In addition, they must have completed compulsory English 12C or U or skills assessment, or equivalent and Math 11C, M or U, or 12C or U, or skills assessment, or equivalent. Possession of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission.
The Institute of Law Clerks of Ontario accredits the Law Clerk program, which results in an Ontario College Diploma. During the four semesters students spend at Centennial College, emphasis is placed on practical, career-oriented assignments. In addition, a wide variety of law courses, in conjunction with computer legal software courses, fully prepares students for employment in the legal profession. Specific courses within the Law Clerk offering include: Current Issues in Canadian Law (students gain an understanding of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario court system, as well as an introduction to torts, contracts, sale of goods and consumer protection law, employment law and property law); Corporate Law (teaches students the laws and procedures for incorporation, maintaining corporations, and commercial searches and registration); Legal Research and Writing (students learn the basic steps required to carry out both legal and factual research); and more.
As Patty-Ann mentioned, another major component of this Law Clerk diploma undertaking is the work placement. This feature allows students to work alongside seasoned law clerks applying what they have learned and gaining new knowledge while networking.
In order to graduate and become a law clerk, students must achieve an overall minimum GPA of 2.0, a minimum C grade average, a minimum C grade in COMM-170 and a minimum keyboarding speed of 40 words per minute. Upon graduation from the Law Clerk program, most begin their careers by applying for judicial clerkships.