Clerkship Program – Application Process

2023-2024 Clerkship Program

The Court of Appeal for Ontario hires 19 law clerks each year to work with its Judges, including at least one bilingual clerk who requires oral and written fluency in English and French.  Emphasis in hiring is placed on academic excellence, legal research and writing skills, motivation, and work experience. The ability to manage multiple projects and to produce high quality work under strict deadlines is required. Strong interpersonal and team-work skills are also strongly valued.

Law Clerks will be hired as unclassified, fixed term Articling Students or first year Crown Counsel (level 0) for the Ontario Public Service, under the Association of Law Officers of the Crown (ALOC) collective agreement and are entitled to benefits as fixed term employees as per that agreement.

PLACE OF WORK:

Court of Appeal for Ontario, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario    M5H 2N5

PERIOD OF EMPLOYMENT:

Maximum of one year – commencing:  Tuesday, August 8, 2023

SALARY AND BENEFITS:

The current salary for articling students is $73,552 per annum.  In addition to their salary, clerks hired as articling students also receive a $4,975.00 educational stipend.  The current salary for first year counsel is $90,290 per annum.

Law clerks’ benefits include vacation pay, statutory holiday pay, 4% pay in lieu of other benefits, paid sick days and reimbursement of Law Society of Ontario fees on a pro-rated basis.  Law Clerks are also allowed up to $750 for continuing legal educational courses/seminars.

WHO CAN APPLY:

You must be in your final two years of law school, including the final two years of a joint program, to apply.

Only persons holding Canadian citizenship or having permanent resident status in Canada or a work permit for Canada may apply.  You must indicate in your application the basis on which you are entitled to work in Canada.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario is committed to building a diverse workforce that reflects the public we serve. We are dedicated to fostering a respectful, inclusive, and equitable workplace. The Court encourages applications from members of equity-seeking groups, and from those with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. This includes candidates who self-identify as Indigenous, racialized, lgbtq+ or as having a disability.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS

Candidates should submit their application through the VI Law Portal (www.vilawportal.com) under “Clerkship – Court of Appeal”.  This posting will be active as of December 15, 2021, so do not submit materials before this date.  If candidates are unable to submit their application through the VI Law Portal, materials can be sent in PDF format by email to: lawclerkprogram@ontario.ca.

  • WE WILL NOT ACCEPT MATERIALS BY MAIL OR COURIER
  • PLEASE DO NOT DUPLICATE MATERIALS by sending to the VI Law Portal and our email address

Candidates applying for the bilingual position should indicate same in their cover letter and should ensure they submit two separate writing samples, one in French and one in English.

Candidates attending law schools in Ontario:  Please ensure that your law school’s career services office is made aware of your application to the Court of Appeal and that you have complied with your law school’s internal application process.

Candidates are asked to submit the following materials with their applications:

  1. A cover letter addressed to Justice Katherine van Rensburg c/o the Legal Support Coordinator.
  2. A current curriculum vitae.
  3. Two letters of reference (addressed to Justice Katherine van Rensburg c/o the Legal Support Coordinator), with at least one being from a law professor. The Dean’s letter of recommendation of candidates from your law school does not count as one of the letters of reference. Reference letters may be submitted by the applicant with their application materials, or sent directly from the referee (or one of their representatives) to the lawclerkprogram@ontario.ca email address.
  4. A legal writing sample (up to a maximum 10 pages) that best demonstrates your abilities as a legal writer and your research and analytical skills. Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions – What Kind of Writing Sample Should I Submit? for more detailed information.
  5. Transcripts for all post-secondary studies. Originals are not required.  These should be downloaded with application materials to VI Law Portal.
  6. Official transcripts of law school marks. Official transcripts must be received (electronically) directly from the law school, to the lawclerkprogram@ontario.ca email address.

APPLICATION DEADLINE:

All application materials must be received by the court by Monday, January 24, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.  Candidates are responsible for ensuring that all application materials are received by the deadline date as incomplete applications will not be considered.   We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

INTERVIEWS:

Subject to any changes, the judges of the Court will conduct all interviews by Zoom during the weeks of February 21 and 28, 2022.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CLERKSHIP APPLICATIONS

What sort of clerks are you looking for?
The court is looking for well-rounded students with strong academic records, excellent research, writing and analytical skills, and the ability to work well with judges and other staff.

What kind of writing sample should I submit?
You should submit a writing sample that best demonstrates your abilities as a legal writer and your research and analytical skills (maximum 10 pages).  Your writing sample should contain substantive legal analysis that engages with legislation, case law or both.  You are welcome to submit a paper that is in the process of being graded.  You should not submit a factum, anything written jointly, anything in published form or any work product.  You should not submit a first-year writing sample.

Writing samples will be evaluated on the basis of: writing style, proofreading and citations (please follow the latest edition of the McGill Guide); organization; and analysis and research.

If you choose to submit a portion of a paper, please include:  a one-page abstract; the introduction and the conclusion; and at least one section of substantive legal analysis.

With the exception of the abstract and the footnotes and quotations longer than four lines, all text must be 12-point font, double-spaced and have one-inch margins.

Bilingual candidates must submit two separate writing samples (one in English and one in French).

Is it an asset to speak French?
Yes, we hire at least one bilingual clerk who is able to work in French and English.

Is the application process different for in-province and out-of-province students?
Yes.  We require all Ontario law school applicants to ensure that that their law school’s career services office are made aware of their application to the Court of Appeal.  Please be sure to comply with your law school’s internal application process.

Should I take particular courses if I want to clerk?
The court does not require that clerks take any particular courses. However, given the broad jurisdiction of this court, it is helpful to have taken a wide range of courses.

CLERKSHIP INTERVIEWS

Who conducts the interviews?
Each interview is conducted by two judges.   A staff lawyer and a law clerk also sit in on each interview.

Where will interviews take place?
The Court of Appeal is no longer doing in-person interviews.   All interviews will be done via Zoom.

CLERKSHIP OFFERS

I am concerned about the timing of the offers since I have applied to other courts. When does the Court of Appeal make its offers?
We do not make our offers until after the Supreme Court of Canada has finished its hiring process.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

When do the clerkships start and end?
The clerkship period will commence the first Tuesday in August after the civic holiday and will last for a period of up to 12 months.

I will have articled prior to clerking. Does that make any difference?
If you have articled and been called to the bar just prior to commencing your clerkship, you will be paid as Crown Counsel 1 (CC1), not as an articling student. The salary differential and salary rates are governed by the collective agreement that applies to law clerks at the court.

Do you cover fees of the Law Society of Ontario?
Law clerks who articled prior to starting at the Court of Appeal are hired as Crown Counsel 1 (CC1). CC1 law clerks are eligible to be reimbursed for annual membership fees of the Law Society of Ontario, which are prorated for the period of time in which they are employed at the Court of Appeal.

Law clerks who article at the Court of Appeal are eligible to be reimbursed for certain Law Society of Ontario costs paid prior to and during their articling period, up until its conclusion.  These costs (up to a total of $4,625) include:

  • Application Fee ($160)
  • Barrister Licensing Exam ($750)
  • Solicitor Licensing Exam ($750)
  • Articling Program / LPP Fee ($2,800)
  • Call to the Bar Fee ($165) Note: Call to the Bar Fee is reduced (from $250) temporarily due to COVID-19.

LAW SOCIETY REQUIREMENTS

Does clerking at the Court of Appeal satisfy Ontario’s articling requirement?
Yes, a clerkship at the court satisfies the articling requirement.

Do I have to write the licensing exams prior to clerking?
Prior to their start date, all the articling students are encouraged to complete the Solicitor and Barrister examinations.

Are there any special requirements if I have attended a law school outside of Canada?
If you attended a law school outside of Ontario, you may have to satisfy additional requirements before you can article in Ontario. You are advised to contact the Law Society directly for information.

THE CLERKING EXPERIENCE

When do I find out who I will be working with?
Clerks are given their judge/clerk assignments after they arrive at the court.

How many judges will I work with over the course of the year?
The court has a rotation system. Clerks will be assigned to work for one or two judges for half the year, and then switch and work for another one or two judges.

What kind of training do clerks get?
Clerks undergo a multi-day orientation program upon their arrival at the court. Clerks also receive training throughout the year – for instance, there is a seminar on editing and the clerks are given an opportunity to argue a moot in front of judges to work on their advocacy skills.

What type of work do clerks do?
The primary tasks of law clerks are: (1) preparing pre-hearing bench memos; (2) conducting research; (3) editing judgments; and (4) assisting with papers and speeches. In addition to their work for their judges, the clerks each have a “special task”, such as helping with recruitment, conducting tours, and organizing the clerks’ speakers’ series.

Will the types of cases I work on depend on who I am assigned to?
The court typically hears more than 1,500 appeals per year in the areas of criminal, civil, family, administrative, and constitutional law. Judges are assigned to sit on cases randomly. That means that all judges sit on cases involving a wide range of legal issues, resulting in clerks having a broad exposure to different types of cases.

How much contact will I have with judges?
Clerks have regular contact with the judges to whom they are assigned. They also have the opportunity to interact with other judges throughout the course of the year, informally and in the context of various events. The events include a welcome lunch, informal coffee sessions with the judges, and various other social events throughout the year.

What opportunities do clerks have to attend educational seminars?
Clerks have the opportunity to attend internal and external educational programs. The clerks have their own speakers’ series, which gives them an opportunity to meet with prominent members of the legal community. In addition, there is a budget for clerks to attend external legal education seminars.

Will I have the opportunity to attend court?
Clerks are encouraged to observe Court of Appeal proceedings. They are also encouraged to watch trial proceedings at the nearby Superior Court and Ontario Court of Justice.

POST-CLERKSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

What is the MAG Hireback Pool?
All students who article for the Ministry of the Attorney General (which includes Court of Appeal law clerks) are eligible to apply for internal law jobs for a two-year period following completion of their articles with the recommendation of their articling principal.

Can I be added to the MAG Hireback Pool if I did not article with the Court?

CC1 law clerks are not entitled to join the MAG Hireback Pool but are entitled to time on the redeployment list.   This allows you to continue to apply for internal law jobs for a period of time after your clerkship ends, as per the ALOC collective agreement (typically six months).

What assistance are clerks given in searching for jobs?
Judges support clerks in the job search process. They may provide references for the clerks as well as put them in touch with potential employers.

What sorts of things do clerks do after leaving the court?
Former clerks go on to do work in a wide variety of areas after leaving the court. For instance, recent clerks have gone on to work in big firms, in small litigation boutiques, in Crown jobs, in criminal defence firms, in public interest settings, and on commissions of inquiry.  Quite a few of our law clerks have gone on to a clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada.  We’ve also had several clerks that attended graduate school.

Note:

In accordance with the Ontario Public Service (OPS), Employment Screening Checks Policy (ESCP), the top candidate(s) may be required to undergo a security screening check.

You will be responsible for obtaining a Criminal Record and Judicial Matters Check at your own expense and provide it, along with your written consent, to the Transition and Security Office (TSO), Talent Acquisition Branch (TAB), HR Service Delivery Division (HRSDD) to evaluate the results. If applicable, the TSO, with your written consent, will request and obtain any additional employment screening checks that were not obtained directly by you.

A record under the Criminal Code and/or other federal offence record(s) does not automatically mean you will be ineligible for the position. The employment screening check(s) will only be reviewed and evaluated by the TSO for the purpose of making a security clearance decision. The details of an individual’s employment screening check(s) will be considered in specific relation to the duties and responsibilities of the position being filled. Employment screening check records will be maintained by the TSO and kept strictly confidential.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario is committed to developing inclusive, barrier-free selection processes and work environments.  If contacted in relation to an interview or job opportunity, you should advise the Court in a timely manner of any accommodation measures that should be taken to ensure your access in a fair and equitable manner.   Information received relating to accommodation measures will be treated confidentially.

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