Why Osgoode Should Change Summer Clinical Employment Acceptance Deadlines
It goes without saying that the 1L recruit process is incredibly competitive and stressful for applicants. While most of the issues students have with the process are due to the low availability of interview offers and even fewer employment offers, there’s one frustrating situation that the Osgoode administration could unilaterally solve.
The issue is that students must accept summer clinical positions before they have a chance to interview with firms that participate in 1L recruit. To illustrate this problem by example, a student would currently have to decide between following through with an interview offer for a competitive Bay Street job or to instead accept a guaranteed CLASP or Parkdale summer offer.
To fix this, the administration should schedule acceptance deadlines for summer clinical positions for after 1L recruit offers have been distributed.
The Law Society of Upper Canada determines the procedures that apply to first-year summer recruitment positions. This year, the Law Society required that interviews for these positions be conducted between February 21st and February 23rd. Because there are few positions offered, and because there are hundreds of applicants for each position, there are limited interview offers for these positions. 1Ls quickly learn that even the highest achieving first-semester students are not guaranteed interviews through this process. As such, interviews for these positions are valuable opportunities for students who receive them.
Some of Osgoode’s clinical and intensive programs also offer summer positions to a select group of accepted applicants. This year, the deadline to accept these offers was February 15th. This is the same day that successful applicants must respond to clinical offers for placements that will occur during the following academic year. This date is also scheduled before students have the opportunity to interview or receive offers through the 1L recruitment process.
While the Osgoode administration cannot alter the schedule set by the LSUC, they have the authority to change the acceptance deadline for summer clinical positions. Moving the deadline would benefit Osgoode students who have been offered interviews for summer positions through 1L recruit. Students who have summer offers for positions through Osgoode’s clinical and intensive programs and who also have interviews scheduled through 1L recruit must make a difficult decision. Should they risk not having a law-related summer job at all if they deny the clinic? Does it make sense to pass up an opportunity to interview for some of the most competitive positions that are offered to 1L students?
Ultimately, 1L students should not be forced to make this decision. The acceptance deadline for Osgoode’s summer clinical positions should not be scheduled in such a way that limits the opportunities of Osgoode’s first-year students. The goals of the administration should reflect the goals of the students – to have the greatest number of options to make the most informed decision. Students pay hefty tuition fees to attend law school. Undoubtedly, it is our law school’s responsibility to maximize our career opportunities and utilize those fees in the best interests of students.
This is easily a feasible proposition. The University of Toronto Faculty of Law has scheduled their clinical acceptance deadlines after the distribution of 1L recruit offers. The obvious question is “why wouldn’t Osgoode do the same?”
One must ask what the benefit is of the current deadline regime. Some might argue that our administration stands to benefit from the status quo. Even if this were the case, it would be better for our law school’s reputation to allow students to pursue a greater number of opportunities.
Others have insisted that the administration would like to hire the highest-achieving students for its summer clinical positions. Although this position would privilege the concerns of the administration over those of the students, it would at least be explicable because both the administration and the clinics have an interest in hiring the most capable students.
However, it would be of greater benefit to the administration if Osgoode students obtained a greater number of highly-competitive positions. The more Osgoode students there are that accept such positions, the more Osgoode can boast about its students attaining those positions.
Certainly, there is no shortage of capable students to fill summer clinical positions if more students instead opt for 1L recruit positions. Yet, there are an ample number of students who currently do not receive summer employment through either process. As stated earlier, some of the brightest students do not receive offers from either process, and many would be willing to fill any positions that would be left vacant because other students received 1L recruit offers.
Given the competitive nature of finding a law-related 1L summer position, the administration should do everything they can to relieve this pressure. Changing the deadline to accept summer clinical positions is easy, costs nothing, and benefits both the administration and students.
With the help of Shana-Kay Wright, the 1L Student Caucus Representative for Section C, we have been able to bring these concerns to the administration. They will hear these arguments on March 1st at a meeting of the Clinical Education Committee. Hopefully, we can make this simple change to the 1L recruitment structure at Osgoode and can empower the decision-making ability of future 1L students.sa