The Role of Articling Students

To become a lawyer in BC, the articling process is a critical rite of passage. Upon completion of a rigorous three-year graduate-level program in Law School, predominantly focused on theoretical aspects, graduates transition to the pivotal phase of practical training known as articling. This postgraduate year serves as an extension of their education, like a fourth year of study through a paid internship. A critical component of this period is the 10-week Professional Legal Training Course, often called the “Bar Exam.”

During the remaining nine months, articling students engage in a paid internship, apprenticing under an experienced lawyer who assumes the responsibility of guiding and training them. Under the mentorship of a senior lawyer, articling students undertake legal tasks, gaining invaluable hands-on experience that shapes their ability to function independently as lawyers upon completion of the articling year.

Articling students possess the capacity to deliver a spectrum of legal services comparable to those provided by seasoned lawyers. Clients benefit from their services at a more affordable hourly rate, leveraging the guidance of the supervising senior lawyer. Articling students can appear as counsel in court, meet with clients to offer legal advice, and prepare legal documents, including obtaining signatures. Their presence is a considerable asset to the community, offering standard legal services efficiently. As they establish their practice, articling students are often in the position to take on work quickly, as their workload is usually more manageable. Additionally, articling students can play a supportive role in significant legal proceedings, acting as second chair in large trials, contributing to research efforts, and preparing witnesses for testimony.

The Path to Articling in BC

1. Educational Prerequisites:

To begin the journey toward becoming an articling student in BC, candidates must complete a law degree from a recognized Canadian University, for which usually an undergraduate degree is a prerequisite. The most common paths include a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or a three-year long Juris Doctor (JD).

2. Articling Interviews:

Post law degree, with the academic requirements met, the next step is securing an articling position. This involves often highly competitive interviews with law firms, where candidates must adeptly showcase their legal knowledge, skills, and passion for the law. It is worth noting that many articling positions are not openly advertised, emphasizing the importance of proactive networking and personal recommendations. Large firms sometimes participate in organized hiring processes such as “OCI’s”, whereas smaller firms usually do not. In general, students should not stress about their lack of legal experience, but rather focus on having a good attitude and ensuring an appropriate fit with the firm culture.

3. Articling Placement:

Upon securing articling positions, successful candidates join a law firm or a legal department in-house to serve as articling students. This immersive phase typically spans about nine months, providing individuals with invaluable practical, hands-on experience in various facets of the legal field.

4. Bar Admission Course:

Post completion of their law degree and the securing of an articling position, aspiring lawyers in BC embark on the formidable journey of navigating the challenging bar admission course. Referred to as the Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) in BC, this comprehensive program includes conventional classroom instruction and integrates four intensive skills assessments and two rigorous exams, created to test individuals on the nuanced expertise for practicing law in BC.

5. Balancing Studies with Practical Work:

As the last phase of formal legal education before call and admission to the Bar, articling introduces a dynamic blend of academic study and practical work. As an articling student, you will embark on a journey to balance your theoretical knowledge with real-world application, all under the careful supervision and guidance of your principal.

The Value of Articling Students to Law Firms

1. Skill Development:

Articling students bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to law firms. Through their training, they can develop and hone essential legal skills, including legal research, drafting, client communication, and courtroom advocacy.

2. Mentorship and Guidance:

Firms play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of legal professionals. By providing mentorship and guidance, experienced lawyers within the firm contribute to the growth and development of articling students, fostering a supportive and collaborative work environment.

3. Elevating Firm Reputation:

Investing in articling students reflects positively on a law firm’s reputation. It showcases a commitment to nurturing talent and contributing to the legal community’s growth, attracting both clients and top-tier legal professionals.

The Impact of Articling Students on Client Services

1. Diverse Perspectives:

Articling students often bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to the firm, enriching the overall approach to client services. This diversity enhances the firm’s ability to understand and address the varied needs of clients.

2. Increased Efficiency:

As articling students take on research and administrative tasks, they contribute to the efficiency of the firm, allowing senior lawyers to focus on more complex legal matters. This efficiency translates into better and more cost-efficient client service and more streamlined legal processes. An articling student usually gets charged out at about half the rate of a more senior lawyer.

3. Client-Centered Approach:

Articling students, under the guidance of experienced lawyers, learn to adopt a client-centered approach. This focus on understanding and meeting client needs prepares them to deliver exceptional service as they progress in their legal careers.

Articling Students Obligations and Professional Development

As an articling student, you bear a profound responsibility to the legal profession and are accountable to the Law Society. A crucial aspect of this responsibility involves a meticulous study of the Law Society Rules and the Code of Professional Conduct for BC. These foundational elements not only guide your journey as a student but also lay the groundwork for your future career as a lawyer, shaping ethical practices and professional conduct.

Expanding Your Legal Horizon

To become a lawyer requires a holistic approach that goes beyond mastering the intricacies of legal doctrine. Aspiring articling students and law firms looking to cultivate future legal leaders should recognize the value of diverse knowledge areas that extend beyond the traditional curriculum. Beyond educational prerequisites and the articling process, a comprehensive legal education involves staying informed about legal technology and innovations transforming the industry. Soft skills, professional development, and an exploration of diverse practice areas enhance a legal professional’s versatility. Ethical considerations, advanced legal research, and writing skills are essential components, as are a solid understanding of alternative dispute resolution methods and the business and financial aspects of law firms. Client relationship management, awareness of the ever-changing legal landscape, and a commitment to continuing legal education further contribute to a well-rounded legal professional. Additionally, acknowledging law firm cultures, diversity, and engaging in pro bono and community involvement to increase access to justice are integral aspects that elevate the profile of both the aspiring legal professional and the law firm seeking to nurture and attract top-tier talent.


Embarking on the transformative journey to become a lawyer is a thrilling yet demanding endeavor. For those aspiring legal professionals in British Columbia, the articling process stands as a crucial rite of passage, intricately woven into the fabric of their future careers. As we navigate the evolving legal landscape, it becomes increasingly clear that the symbiotic relationship between articling students, law firms, and clients transcends transactional interactions—it is a cornerstone of success and ongoing innovation in the dynamic field of law.


Written by Maximilian Liebrecht, Articling Student for Paul & Company LLP