As a summer student at Aird & Berlis, expect a full immersion into the practice of business law. You will work shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best in the business. It won’t be long before you are knee-deep in a complex transaction or a piece of high-stakes litigation. It’s a steep learning curve, but with your skills (and support from your mentors and peers), you are ready for the climb.
Our flexible summer program is designed to encourage exploration and customization. Before the summer begins, we canvass our students for their initial interests and we tailor their office locations and mentors to reflect those initial interests. This helps our students “get traction” as soon as they join the firm. And halfway through the summer, our students move offices. The change of scenery creates opportunities to meet and work with new people. We encourage our students to explore everything our firm has to offer – that’s what the summer is for!
We match our summer students with two “official” mentors - a junior mentor and a senior mentor. The junior mentor is typically an associate and the senior mentor is typically a partner. The junior mentor often helps with day-to-day advice and the senior mentor with big picture guidance, but every relationship is different. We take a lot of care in selecting mentors and matching them with students. Ari Blicker (our Director of Student and Associate Programs) and Reena Kotecha (Chair of our Student Recruitment Committee) handpick the mentors for each of our students. Mentors work directly with their students from time to time on client matters, but more often they are facilitators. A great mentor works closely with her “mentee” to establish goals for the summer and beyond, and to develop a plan to achieve those goals. Over time, our mentors become trusted advisors to our students, and the relationships endure long after the summer comes to an end.
When the summer begins, students are often anxious about filling their “pipeline.” Experience has taught us that there is no cause for worry. Invariably, it happens very naturally. Your mentor drops by your office looking for help on a deal. A partner calls you because she heard that you have an interest in labour and employment, and she needs some help with an arbitration. Or an associate emails the student group seeking assistance on a commercial litigation matter. Aird & Berlis is an entrepreneurial firm and we value that mindset in our people. We encourage our students to take ownership of their workload and their careers. Put yourself out there, introduce yourself to lawyers at the firm and offer your assistance. Lawyers at the firm respond very well to this kind of initiative. And after a few assignments, you can expect plenty of repeat business!
Reviews and Feedback
We conduct summer student reviews halfway through the summer. We ask each reviewing lawyer to provide feedback about the student’s performance, skillset and personal qualities (including communication, legal research and analysis, drafting, judgment and client orientation). Our lawyers also provide ongoing informal feedback throughout the summer, and we encourage our students to ask for feedback after each assignment is completed
Continuing Professional Development
Our summer students spend most of their first week in orientation, getting to know each other and learning about things like docketing their time and working with a legal assistant. Representatives from each of the firm’s practice groups participate and offer guidance. And our articling students share their wisdom in a candid session called “If I Knew Then What I Know Now.” We provide our summer students with extensive training on our firm’s systems, and we also offer training on external research tools like Quicklaw and Westlaw.
Over the course of the summer, we offer weekly Lunch-and-Learn seminars on a variety of topics, including Legal Research and Writing, Practice Management Tips, Managing a Closing, the Basics of a Loan Transaction, the Litigation Process, as well as various practice area overviews.
Neil Guthrie, our Director of Professional Development, oversees continuing legal education at the firm and takes a strong interest in helping students. He is an excellent resource for students. He teaches a section of Advanced Legal Research and Writing at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and developed the research and writing curriculum for the Law Practice Program at Ryerson University. Neil blogs on legal writing for slaw.ca.
Angela Swan (Counsel, Legal Education), is also a great resource for our students. Angela’s practice focuses on supporting lawyers and students with respect to research and opinions. Angela is one of our nation’s best-known experts on contract law, and an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.
Salary and Other Stuff
Our current summer student salary is $1,900 per week for both first and second year summer students.
The firm organizes informal social events for our students and lawyers. We enjoy friendly competition (beach volleyball, billiards and ping-pong spring to mind) and dining out (patios preferred but not required). And sometimes you might find us singing late night karaoke (tunefully)!