New Jersey Court says you can be liable for crashes caused by your text message

texting-and-driving

BY TAHSIN NAJAM, LAW II

So with summer fading and the first week of 2L looming, I find I haven’t entered the necessary mindset to grapple with complex law questions just quite yet. In fact, the only duty of care I’m interested in at the moment is the one ensuring I make it to Tuesday at least somewhat awake and in the correct classroom.

Having said that, my attention was piqued earlier today by a retweet from the Los Angeles Times: “Can you be held responsible for a crash that happens miles away because you texted the driver? N.J. Court says yes.” It speaks to just how immersive the law school experience is that immediately after seeing it, my brain pushed aside thoughts of what I was doing tonight and whether Miley Cyrus was currently twerking, and decided to delve into what was actually behind this provocative headline.

The Lowdown: A New Jersey Appeals Court oversaw a lawsuit where a couple lost both of their left legs due to a texting driver (Kyle Best) swerving into them. The attorney argued a new cause of action in that that the individual who had been exchanging texts with the driver was “electronically present” and thus somewhat responsible for the accident. The three-judge panel decided that the texter in this case was not guilty as there was no way of knowing whether she knew Best had been driving at the time.

That said, the court spoke of a new standard of responsibility (with one judge dissenting on a concurring opinion). They stated: “when the sender ‘has actual knowledge or special reason to know’ … from prior texting experience or otherwise, that the recipient will view the text while driving, the sender has breached a duty of care to the public by distracting the driver.”

The court provided a hypothetical to help prove their reasoning. If A was driving, and C in the backseat suddenly called out to A, taking his attention away from the road and leading to a crash with B, doesn’t that mean C was negligent towards B? The court states that by texting a driver knowingly, the texter is showing the same amount of negligence towards the public.

So what does this mean? The first issue that comes to mind is simply that it is going to be extremely difficult to prove that a texter knew the textee was driving, unless it’s stated or conveyed in really explicit terms through their communications. Furthermore, the judges stated that the texter would have to know that there was a likelihood that the driver would respond. This is essentially impossible to prove. Even if a texter knew that the textee was driving, they can argue that they knew the driver wouldn’t respond. In New Jersey law, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove negligence, and any kind of doubt could sway the balance of probabilities.

Secondly, sharing responsibility with a duty of care towards the texter might be targeting the wrong party. Any driver would be likely to get a call or text at any moment. The onus should continue to be with the driver to maintain their attention on the road rather than their mobile device. In the end, it is their decision to take a glance at or pick up their phone, and it could be problematic to place the burden of responsibility on another party.

Alternatively, what would happen if a texter either called or texted the driver who responded with “I’m driving”, and the texter continued to maintain communication? In this scenario, it would have already been expressed to the texter that that the driver was in fact driving, and yet the texter would have persisted. Does this mean that there is some semblance of shared responsibility? It’s an interesting question to look at, and most likely the very reason that the New Jersey court introduced the possibility of such a provision.

Does the remote texter have a duty of care towards the public to ensure they don’t distract the driver in any way? With laws regarding the use of cellular devices getting stricter around North America, there is definitely a chance this duty of care could be implemented. Nonetheless, it ultimately comes down to the driver having the final decision in whether to use their device, and this remains the biggest reason why it would be hard to prove the texter’s responsibility.

This hasn’t yet become criminal law in New Jersey, but the judges have introduced the possibility that under current laws against distracting the driver, the texter may be held responsible. It will be interesting to monitor the progress of this and see whether other states or even Canadian provinces take a similar stance. Until then, it’s probably best to leave your cell-phone where it is when driving. I mean, that drunken law school story can probably wait, right?

Letter from the Editor

Photo on 2013-08-29 at 15.51 #2

Friends, Romans, 1L’s, lend me your ears,

The Legal Eye is excited to usher in a new school year.

Those of you entering your first year of law school might not be familiar with the Legal Eye.  The same could be said of those upper year students who are transferring to UBC from other universities, and of everyone else.

The Legal Eye is UBC Law’s independent student publication.  We operate at arm’s length from all forms of government, out of a small room on the fourth floor with a wealth of post-it notes and no windows.

The Legal Eye‘s mission is to create a product that reflects the richness, diversity and collective wit of the student body.  To this end, I encourage everyone to get involved with the Legal Eye in whatever capacity appeals to you.  We are interested in contributors, editors, commenters and of course readers.

This year, in an effort to connect with broader audiences, we are foregoing all definitional limits on what constitutes relevant content.  The law student publication is interested in things loosely thematically linked to law and in things loosely thematically linked to students.  If you are interested enough in something to write 500 words about it, chances are it’s relevant.  Your strongly held beliefs in relation to section 19 of the Land Title Act are relevant.  Your review of the latest episode of Suits is relevant.  Funny pictures of your cat are highly relevant.  If you know how to make a tasty beef stroganoff from basic ingredients, you should write a piece about that, but you should also contact me privately at your earliest convenience.

The Legal Eye reserves the right to edit contributions for content, length, and grammar, but we intend to keep this right in reserve.  Defamation is not chill, and neither is hate speech.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Legal Eye, questions, comments, concerns, and contributions can be emailed to legaleye.ubc@gmail.com.  Follow us on Twitter (@TheLegalEye), and love us on Facebook.  You are also encouraged to share your thoughts in the commenting section below.  I’m the guy in the picture.  Feel free to say hi to me in the halls.

Sincerely,

Tal Letourneau

Editor-in-Chief

Clerking and You

BY Jennifer Lau, Acting Director; Chiara Woods, Acting Associate Director; and Tracy Wachmann, Public Interest Coordinator

Clerking Information

Do You:

  • Enjoy the academic and intellectual aspects of law?
  • Have an interest in litigation and want to gain insight into judicial reasoning and decision making?
  • Enjoy legal research and legal discussion?
  • Have excellent legal research and writing skills?
  • Not mind having an extended articling period?

If so, you may want to consider applying for a judicial clerkship. Clerking is a unique opportunity to spend a year working “behind the scenes” in a Court. The chance to observe counsel and litigants of all stripes arguing their cases in court and assist judges as they craft their decisions is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Clerks often maintain collegial relationships not only with their judges, but also with their fellow law clerks.

The duties of a law clerk vary from court to court and from judge to judge. Generally, however, law clerks are responsible for researching and writing preliminary memoranda (brief summaries of the cases coming before the court based on the written submissions of the parties), conducting post-hearing research, and editing judgments.

Law students usually apply for clerkships in their 2nd year, which commence after graduation.  If you are interested in applying for a Canadian Clerkship, note that application deadlines range from November to April.  Please see the Judicial Clerkships 2014-2015 handout on Symplicity which contains information about the application process, interview preparation, application deadlines, and names of former clerks. 

We welcome the opportunity to review your clerkship application materials. Students may book an appointment with a member of the CSO team on Symplicity.

Get in touch with Career Services.

All roads lead to Symplicity (www.ubclawcareers.com). If you do not have a Symplicity login, email careers@law.ubc.ca so that you can access our Document Library, review job postings, upload your resume, and make appointments with Jennifer Lau, Chiara Woods or Tracy Wachmann. We look forward to helping you with your job search!

Pet of the Month: Binky

Name: Binky “Pees in the House Plants” Cameron

Birthday: April 7, 2009

Zodiac Sign: Aries

Likes: Constitutional Law, highlighters, putting holes in lululemon pants, bringing half-dead birds home, Will Shaw

Dislikes: online readings, seminars, when her mommy goes on exchange, German Shepherds, the vet

Favourite Foods: Cat Chow, innocent baby animals, poinsettas

Why Binky was Nominated: Binky has been a solid study partner since I adopted her the week before writing the LSAT (NOTE: I do not recommend bringing home a new kitten the week before writing a test which will determine your destiny). Binky has made the move from Winnipeg, MB to Vancouver with me, and currently resides in Squamish while I finish my exchange semester in Australia. It has been difficult studying at Uni Melb without Binky here to walk all over my keyboard, steal erasers, drool on my study notes, and love me unconditionally despite my irrational stress freak outs and coming home rowdy from Bzzr Ups. Luckily, Binky is adept at Facebook, and regularly posts cute cat pictures on my wall.

If you would like to submit your pet to be featured as the Legal Eye‘s Pet of the Month please email legaleye.ubc@gmail.com. Our resident Petspert, Alissa Perry, may choose your pet. Be sure to follow a similar format to this one and send in your cutest photos of your lil buddy. Thank you.

First Round of Guile Debate: Lawyers are Overpaid Scribes

BY TAYLOR CLARKE, LAW III

The Guile debate tryouts happened on the 15th of November. It was a Thursday. There must have been about a dozen people trying out. Good for them. They all debated about whether lawyers are just overpaid scribes. Obviously they are.

What did we learn from the debaters? Well there were 6 debaters pro and 6 con. But the 4 who made the finals were all debaters pro. Maybe this tells us more about the judges than the resolution.

First debater con: Anthony Toljanich, (pronounced tall-an-itch, you’re welcome Tony). Best dick joke of the night, I give it a 15.

First debater pro: Zoe Si. You had to listen very carefully to Zoe, which I didn’t, but she said something about teabags. I don’t know what that means but people seemed to laugh. Orange Pekoe is my least favourite tea.

Second debater pro: Glenn Grande. Glenn told a story in rhyming slang involving his inability to bang.

Second debater con: Rares Crisan. What kind of a name is Rares? He must be a first year. The best and worst thing about his debate was that he rambled.

Third debater pro: yours truly. Probably the only presentation that had any basis in fact. Everyone knows that the only thing the law has going for it is that it’s a big secret.

Fourth debater pro: Chris Thompson. I had to take a leak during most of this. When I got back there was a Dmitry joke. Good for Dmitry.

Third debater con: Guy Riseborough. This guy made a good point, how can you be overpaid when your expenses exceed your pay? Answer: a tenth of an hour at a time.

Fifth debater pro: Patrick Walker. Based on his presentation, Patrick should probably be in prison. Good thing he’s in law school.

Fourth debater con: Martina Zanetti. Sassy, funny, stylish. A few more rugby jokes and she might have had a chance.

Fifth debater con: Wes Berger. Easily he was the most sincere debater. He gave an impassioned defence of the status quo.

Sixth debater pro: Will Shaw. Challenged the entire room to trial by combat. Was almost certainly pummeled after the show.

Sixth debater con: Diarmuid Wickham. Confused 1L thought he was at an LSLAP trial.

The finals will be at the end of January. The finalists are Will Shaw, Glenn Grande, Zoe Si, and last, least, and largely, Chris Thompson. Congratulations to them all. I hope they all have just the best time.

Get Yo’ Groove On – Movember Playlist

BY ZOE SI, LAW III

Us at the UBC Legal Eye strongly believe that every power-‘stache (and power-‘stache in the making) deserves a funky soundtrack. We also give “funky” a large and liberal interpretation which spans a multitude of genres from Phil collins circa 1985 to Fat Joe (before he started rapping about Instagramming attractive women). We hope you enjoy the first of many monthly playlists from UBC Legal Eye; and we hope this musical foray will serve as a reminder that even if Mo Money = Mo Problems, Mo Mo(ustache) just means you’re hot stuff.

Click here to listen: Get Yo’ Groove On – Movember Playlist

What does Access to Justice mean to you?

BY ANDREW PILLIAR, PhD student

It’s been an eventful few months on the access to justice front in BC.  In case you haven’t been keeping up, here are some highlights:

  • August 11: In a speech to the Canadian Bar Association in Vancouver, Chief Justice McLachlin again referred to access to justice as “the most pressing problem our legal system faces”.  But in contrast to previous statements, the Chief Justice sounded a note for some optimism, citing the work of the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters.  More on that below.
  • August 12: The CBA announced the launch of its Access to Justice Committee to try to better understand and respond to legal needs of low and middle-income people across the country.
  • August 30: The BC Justice Reform Initiative released “A Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century”, a report by Geoffrey Cowper, QC, on how to reform BC’s criminal justice system.
  • September 5: UBC’s “Access to Justice and the Future of the Legal Profession” class started.  Soon after, the class drew some criticism and media attention, focussing on the fact that one of the course instructors is Geoff Plant, QC, who was BC’s Attorney General in 2002 when significant cuts were made to legal aid funding. (Full disclosure – I am currently auditing this class.)
  • September 6: The National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, chaired by Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, released two reports for consultation: one on simplifying court processes, and another on improving access to legal services.
  • September 21: The Supreme Court of Canada handed down its decision in Canada (AG) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence (“SWUAV”), which broadened the public interest standing for intervenors.
  • October 22: The BC government released the first of two White Papers on reform to the province’s justice system.  This White Paper forms part of the government’s response to the Cowper Report released at the end of August.

You may notice that this list of recent events includes a number of committees, reports and studies.  You may be surprised that, after years of hearing about the access to justice crisis, committees are still being struck to investigate the problem.  You may want to know what is actually happening “on the ground” to improve access to justice.

It’s important to understand that access to justice is a very broad term, and one that can be misleading.  Access to justice is sometimes used as a catch-all phrase to capture civil matters, family matters, and criminal matters.  Sometimes, access to justice is a proxy for “access to legal services”.  Sometimes it is a proxy for “access to the courts”, such as in the SWUAV case.  Often, lawyers have thought of access to justice from the perspective of the legal system – such as thinking about the number of unrepresented people in courts, and how this may contribute to court delays.  In recent years, there has been a shift to try to understand access to justice more fundamentally – from the perspective of the individuals who experience legal problems.  This conceptual confusion may help explain why we are still trying to understand how to respond to the problems of access to justice.

But we have learned some things about access to justice.  Over the past 15 years, research around the world has improved our understanding of how often people experience legal problems.  The most recent Canada-wide research suggests that – excluding criminal matters – almost 45% of adult Canadians have experienced a legal problem over the past three years.  This research also suggests that only around 12% of those individuals sought legal assistance to deal with their legal problem.  Most dealt with it themselves, sought help from a friend, or chose to ignore the problem.

As people involved in the legal system, this should give us all reason to pause.  In the words of Chief Justice McLachlin, inscribed in front of Allard Hall: “The most advanced justice system in the world is a failure if it does not provide justice to the people it is meant to serve.”

So what can we do?  I have been hugely impressed by the discussion, the ideas, and the energy generated by the students in the Access to Justice course.  There seems to be recognition within that class that this is not a problem which will be solved by someone else, but a problem that calls on all of us as lawyers or future lawyers to find ways to meaningfully improve access to justice.

Those who work in the access to justice field note that there is no “silver bullet” to improve access.  As such, there are many opportunities for creative thinking and doing things differently.  The problems of access to justice pose challenges which calls on us all to find solutions.

This could mean doing work through LSLAP, and thinking about how to continue a commitment to pro bono work throughout your career.  It could mean seeking out job opportunities that explicitly seek to improve access to legal services in some way.  It could mean setting up an innovative legal practice to provide unbundled legal services at a reduced cost.  With the number of committees, reports, and studies available, there is no shortage of information about access to justice.

Above all, there is space for each of us to consider what access to justice means, and how it is relevant to us as future lawyers.  I urge you to think of ways to ensure that, when you start to practice, you make a commitment to improving access a meaningful part of your professional identity.  When you look back on your career years from now, wouldn’t you like to be able to say that you did something to address the most pressing problem faced by our legal system?

Andrew Pilliar recently completed his LLM, and is now a first year PhD student at the Faculty of Law, working on access to justice issues.  He previously worked as a litigation lawyer in downtown Vancouver.

The Lawlessness of NFL Referees

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BY TAL LETOURNEAU, LAW I

The first month of law school was characterized by mountains of learning.  I learned, for instance, that I don’t care nearly as much about the NHL lockout as I do about the National Football League Referee Association’s labour strike.

Orientation week was largely devoted to reassuring 1L’s that lawyers and the law are important.  Personally, I needed look no further than Sunday NFL programming to validate this claim.  In a weird sort of American Bolshevik Experiment, a kind of Kafkan mess where the Hunger Games met Mr. Bean, the NFL owners entrusted the interpretation of the rules of their sport to a band of amateurs.  The result was raging, unmitigated anarchy.

For the benefit of readers with fuller lives than myself, who spend their Sundays on things other than football – homework? the outdoors? meaningful relationships with other people? – here’s a very brief breakdown of the circumstances surrounding the NFL referee lockout .

The Referee Association wanted financial security in the form of pensions.  The owners objected to this, not so much because of the money, but as a matter principle.  After all, the owners, notwithstanding their stranglehold on a multibillion dollar industry, don’t have pensions, so why should anyone else?  Furthermore, the refs, in a  desperate, clutching attempt at job security, objected to the NFL’s proposal of creating a standby committee of officials available to facilitate the firing of any ref who should ever make a mistake.  But the absence of real refs doesn’t foreclose the NFL’s ability to absorb the money that fans and sponsors are intent on pouring into its pockets, so the Replacement Refs – aka the ‘scabs’ – were brought in to manage the first three weeks of action.

So who were these replacement refs?  That’s a great question, and a potential source of much scholarly debate, but from what I’ve been able to glean they apparently ranged from substitute teachers to chemical engineers to realtors.  The only things they all seemed to share were a decided lack of Ed Hochuli’s muscle tone and gross underqualification.

After one weekend of play, the general media consensus was that the refereeing wasn’t so bad, but in Week Two things quickly escalated from not so bad to very so bad.  Commentators could no longer resist the ‘compromising the integrity of the game’ discussion.  I’m always a little dubious of this phrase, mostly because I think the word ‘integrity’ should be used sparingly in the context of a game responsible for – among other monstrosities – bounty programs, Peyton Manning commercials, those cheese-hats that Packers fans wear, the Super Bowl half-time show, the mythologizing of rapists and dog-killers, sac dances, Ochocinco’s twitter feed, and Tom Brady converting on third and long… but yes, in essence I agree that in the absence of the real refs, something was certainly amiss.  I prefer to call it justice.

Under the replacement regime corruption ran rampant, like an unblocked blitzing cornerback.  Coaches strong-armed referees into sending the next call their way.  The replacements almost visibly crumbled under boos and jeers from hometown crowds.  Teams were penalized with no indication of which player had actually committed the offense.  Scrums broke out across the field like ninth grade acne.  The Patriots lost back-to-back games.  Brian Stropolo, a New Orleans resident whose Facebook page displays several pictures of himself decked out head to foot in New Orleans Saints gear, was scheduled to officiate a New Orleans Saints game up until a few hours before kickoff.  Finger-pointing reached epidemic proportions.  The fallout of these shenanigans was that games were taking four hours to be played.

But on roared the revenue stream.  So what if the media were mad?  So what if the players were enraged?  And sure, maybe the odd Detroit fan was compelled to throw his microwave off the balcony; he’d still be watching the Lions with a case of Bud Light next Sunday, because the entertainment value was unparalleled.  I was stapled to the tube, just dying to know what those scabs were going to pull next.   I guess, like Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Night, “some people just want to watch the world burn”.

At the end of Week Three, when, on primetime national television, the replacements made what has already been labeled by many as the ‘worst call ever’, the tipping point was finally reached.  In the instantly infamous Monday night game between Seattle and Green Bay, the replacement refs finally blew a call that clearly and directly gave the wrong team the win.  The farce was exposed.  Players left the field before the game was officially over.  Twitter exploded.  Packers fans ate entire wheels of comfort cheese.  A serious chunk of gambling money – one of the more brazen estimates put the figure at a quarter billion dollars – exchanged hands in the wrong direction.  The NFL now had a serious PR issue.  Three nights later the real refs were back on the field.

What I find most interesting in all this is that all it took for simmering amusement to boil into outrage was for them to actually get it wrong.  The NFL is by no means a perfect little world.  The perils surrounding player safety grow yearly, and the ‘integrity of the game’ is just guff.  Still, when the wrong team went home with a win they didn’t earn, there was an overwhelming sense of injustice.

Football is its own little society with its own set of rules, and its citizens look to those rules for the same reasons we look to the law: for security (physical and financial); to punish bad behaviour; to provide predictability; basically, to reward our faith in it by simply getting it right.  But the law, in football, only goes as far as the ability of those whose job it is to understand and interpret it.  The NFL tried to underwrite the role of justice in their league, and it backfired.  They fought the law, and the law won.  But I’m still going to miss those scabs.

Refoos to Loose Sweeps the Foosball Tourney

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BY CHRISTINA GRAY, LAW III

On a rainy afternoon this October, the All Obiter Club and Indigenous Law Student’s Association teamed up to host their second Foosball Tourney. Four co-ed teams came to show the student body their best moves, but there were only two winners that day – Catrina Webster and Noah Stewart who go by the moniker “Refoos to Loos”. Vibert Jack and Joanne Barnum took home second place with “Baconbaconbacon (BBB)” –  Antonia Modkova and Adrien Habermacher – coming in third place.

There was a lot of excitement about the teams throughout the day in the corridors of Allard Hall in anticipation for the big match. Students were standing around nervously at lunch time trying to decide who would take home the cup.

Tension was in the air that rainy afternoon, as the crowd watched the ball shoot quickly from one side to the other by highly skilled foosball players. It was a matter of whose wrists could move faster and with greater intensity during those fast paced games.

In the first round, “Refoos to Loos” won two rounds against their international opponents BBB. At the end of the day, Refoos to Loos proved that their hand and eye coordination is best to none. At one point Vibert Jack (of  “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Foos”) was heard saying in the final round, “Finally, we are beating them by one point”. Refoos to Loos also beat out the international duo – Antonia and Adrien. There was a good effort put out by “BBB”, but Noah’s trick move known as the “snake (a wind up that powerfully impacts the ball)” was a tough one to beat.

The next two teams to play were “I Guess that’s Why they Call it the Foos” (Vibert and Joanne) and “Leave the Gun and Take the Cannoli (Martina Zanetti and James “Jimbo” Boxall)”. The Foos won those two rounds against the former Reid team’ers to go on to the final round.

In the final round, the opponents put their game faces on to battle each other in the hopes of winning the coveted Foosball Cup, along with a $50 gift certificate to Salmon ‘n Bannock, and two prints by Don McIntyre and Mike Dangeli of the House of Culture. Both teams fiercely played two games to five points and Refoos to Loos won the match by taking both games. Noah and Catrina were ecstatic to win their limited edition prints and the cup, showing their delight with super enthusiastic jumping high-fives.

The second place finishers were content to choose their prize of Settlers of Catan, which was donated to the LSS in their honour. The crowd was hoping for giant Jenga to be chosen, but in the end the runners-up preferred the task of building roads, settlements, farms and what not to taking one from the bottom and putting it on top. In all fairness though, regular Jenga was chosen by the runners-up in the last foosball tournament.

The next Foosball Tournament will be in the spring with Danielle Eastveld helping out on the food front again. There are rumours that there may be jelly bean treats and the jumbotron blasting nostalgic hits that will certainly be remembered by anyone that was born before 1994. Be sure to sign up to play — if not for the anticipation of jelly beans, then definitely to show your school support for the aptly dubbed ‘Sceptics Club’.

Summer Job Search

BY JENNIFER LAU AND CHIARA WOODS

Regardless of whether you are in 1L or 2L or even if you want to article and practice law down the road, the summer is a great opportunity to gain some work and life experience, explore legal employment options in different work environments, and build your transferable skills.  What do 1Ls and 2Ls do with their summers?  Here is a sample of some things that 1Ls and 2Ls have historically done in the summer:

  • UBC Faculty of Law (i.e. research assistant, orientation coordinator, development assistant)
  • Research fellowships which may involve time at the law school, firm, or non-profit organization (Fraser Milner Casgrain Business Law Fellowship and Insolvency Internship, UBC Research Abroad Grant)
  • Internships (i.e. United Nations, Pivot Legal Society, BC Civil Liberties Association)
  • Private organizations (i.e. Best Buy Canada, LexisNexis Canada)
  • Government organizations (i.e. WorkSafe BC; Health Employers Association of BC)
  • Professional associations (i.e. Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC)
  • Public Interest Groups (i.e. LSLAP, BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support, West Coast Environmental Law, BC Law Institute)
  • Law firms (small, medium, or large – and full-service or boutique)
  • Work in a non-law job and gain transferable skills
  • Or travel and see the world!

The Public Interest Work Placement Project will also fund 6 summer 2013 positions exclusively for UBC Law students.  These positions will be posted in February 2013.  Summer 2012 organizations included:

  • BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
  • CHIMO Crisis Services
  • First United Church
  • Golden Women’s Centre Society
  • Nelson CARES Society; and,
  • Pivot Legal Society.

If you are considering opportunities with public interest organizations, please refer to the Public Interest Legal Careers Guide, the Public Interest Opportunities handoutand the Public Interest Funding Optionshandout and consider making an appointment on Symplicity to meet with Tracy Wachmann, our Public Interest Coordinator.

For more information, please see the Summer Employment after First and Second Yearhandout and visit the Job Postings on Symplicity. To see what jobs have been posted in the past (and when), click on “Job Leads” within the Job Postings section to see expired postings.

In consideration of your summer employment, take the time to self-assess, evaluate your current experience, and look for a summer opportunity that develops and strengthens your skills. We encourage students to take initiative and contact smaller law firms, corporations, public interest organizations, government organizations, and other employers with whom they would be interested in working this summer. It’s never too early to start thinking about your job hunt, but do remember that most employers do not hire summer students until February, March & April, so stay realistic when contacting them.  The CSO’s handouts on Finding Unposted Jobs, Networking, and Informational Interviewing are excellent resources for tapping into the many hidden job opportunities.

Lastly, remember that only 25 – 30% of 2Ls at UBC Law work at larger law firms in Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary during their 2nd year summer.  Jobs at the larger law firms for 1Ls are virtually non-existent in Vancouver, and fairly limited in Calgary, Ottawa, and Toronto. Take your summer to explore the many legal career opportunities outside of the traditional law firm environment and build your resume.

INTERVIEWS

It is one word that strikes fear into the hearts of many law students.  Your palms start to sweat and your hands may even shake.  What will they ask me?  Will I sound stupid?  I don’t even know in which area of law I want to practice!

It is normal to be nervous.  It may make you feel better to know that many law firm interviews are conversational.  The lawyers at the firm are just trying to get to know you as a person.  Once you have secured an interview, it is generally assumed that you are qualified for the job.  Therefore, marks do not matter (whew!).  One lawyer on the student committee of a national firm said that as an interviewer, he is trying to determine two simple questions:

(1)  Is this someone I would leave in charge of a file while I am away on holidays (here, the employer is evaluating your legal ability, client management skills and practicality): and

(2)  Is this someone I would want to sit in the office next to me for the next twenty years (here, the employer is evaluating your collegiality, friendliness and general fit with their office culture).

Even though your interview will generally be conversational, you should still prepare.  Preparation reduces nervousness (as much as possible!) and enables you to present yourself in the best possible light.  You should review your cover letter and resume and be prepared to answer the following types of questions:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Why did you go to law school?
  • How do you like law school? What is your favourite course/professor?
  • What practice area/kind of law are you interested in?  Why?
  • Why are you interested in our firm/office?
  • Do you have any questions for us?  What can we tell you about us?

Ideally, you will craft your answers to the above questions without sounding too rehearsed to highlight the type of skill set legal employers seek by drawing on examples from your academic, work and volunteer experience.  Your individual skill set is unique, but may include legal research and writing, analysis, advocacy, interpersonal skills (including client relations), mentoring, and the ability to multi-task and work well under pressure.  You should try to talk about things in which you are genuinely interested, as opposed to things you think the firm wants you to say or wants to hear.  When you talk about things you are passionate about, you will talk slower, be less nervous and more engaging. Remember to be positive about anything and everything you discuss in the interview.

Most government employers, and some firms may also ask behavioral interview questions. Behavioral interviewing is a technique used to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and behaviors in order to determine their potential for success. The theory behind behavioral interview questions is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations. Behavioral questions are very specific. You are asked to provide detailed examples of situations when you demonstrated certain attributes or skills. When answering, we recommend using the STAR approach as itallows you to structure your answers and highlight the skills that the employer is seeking. The STAR approach works to your advantage because it provides specific details and showcases specific skills. Answering behavioral interview questions with the STAR approach will differentiate you from other candidates who may provide standard answers. Details regarding the STAR approach are provided in the Interviewing Guide and there are also sample behavioral interview questions that you can use to prepare.

So on a final note, take the time to prepare yourself for your interview and then try to relax and take this opportunity to get to know the different employers.  The Interviewing Guide is available on Symplicity and at the CSO office for students to review.  Students can also sign up via Symplicity for a mock interview with Jenn, Chiara or Tracy.

Get in touch with Career Services

All roads lead to Symplicity (www.ubclawcareers.com).  If you do not have a Symplicity login, email careers@law.ubc.ca so that you can access our Document Library, review job postings, upload your resume, and make appointments with Jenn, Chiara or Tracy. We look forward to helping you with your job search!