Summer student experience prompts application to articling program
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
A profile of Legal Aid Ontario’s David Williams
Previous experience as an LAO summer student provided David Williams with a good idea of what the articling program would be like. On his first day as a summer student at the Toronto Refugee Law office, David found himself helping out Palestinian clients facing deportation.
“Many of my law school friends in the corporate world are doing less – if they are doing any – direct client service. They also generally have limited exposure to court and are spending more time researching and drafting memos than what they are interested in doing.”
– David Williams
“I learned a lot about the current conditions of various countries and some of the things people have to deal with in those places,” he says. “The biggest difficulty for many legitimate refugee claimants is simply getting to Canada.”
Once here, he notes, many claimants face language barriers and may even receive advice or information from people who aren’t necessarily on their side. By providing direct assistance at the Toronto Refugee Law Office, David reaffirmed one of the main reasons he chose to go into law: to have a career focused on working with and helping people.
Because his time at the Refugee Law office was so rewarding and challenging, David fully expected the LAO articling program would be the same.
“Most of my law school friends in the corporate world are doing less – if they are doing any – direct client service,” David says. “They also generally have limited exposure to court and are spending more time researching and drafting memos than what they are interested in doing.”
By comparison, David says LAO is “all about helping people understand and act on their rights.”
“If you want to work directly with clients, and don’t want to spend most of your time in the background, Legal Aid (Ontario) might be the right fit for you.”
David’s articling experience at the London Expanded Duty Counsel office has provided him with a well-rounded experience. His first rotation was with the criminal duty counsel office and then later, he moved over to the family duty counsel office. Before his articling experience ends in May 2013, David will spend some time at the area office before moving on to the Elgin-Oxford Legal Clinic, which provides poverty law services.
While he has had many memorable experiences throughout his articling journey, David recalls helping one particular client with the paperwork on a surety affidavit and how that opened his eyes to how challenging it can be for clients to understand and deal with the court system. The client told David he “forgot” his glasses when he had to read over the section and that this was why he needed help. This moment helped – in a simpler way – to underscore LAO’s role of improving access to justice by helping to demystify it.
David chose to attend law school at Robson Hall at the University of Manitoba on the advice of several lawyers who suggested a smaller law school would provide a more collegial experience.
“You know it’s really cold there, right?” family and friends repeatedly asked him. The cold weather didn’t deter him from an enjoyable experience at Robson Hall.
Having mostly grown up in Ontario, David chose to return to the province to complete his articling with LAO. He says his time here has given him an opportunity to see how different areas of law can be equally challenging and rewarding.
“I am open to working in other areas of law and in different capacities,” he says, “so I like the idea of the Lawyer Workforce Strategy rotations.”
Once his articling experience ends in May, David will continue as a Student-at-Law in Kitchener/Waterloo and then as a Family Staff Lawyer once called to the Bar in June.
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