It is essential to do your research and understand the options you have available as a client before committing to a legal representative. These options include, but are not limited to, self-representing, limited scope retainers, litigation support, and hiring articling students.

In Alberta, before being called to the Bar, law school graduates must complete a one-year articling placement. As part of this placement, the student can practice law under the direct supervision of their principal, who must be a lawyer with at least five years of experience. This means the student can do everything a lawyer can do, subject to their competency in that area of law. This also means that you can have an articling student help you with your legal matter at a much lower cost than a senior lawyer.

In addition to the cost savings, the other benefits of hiring an articling student include having their principal review everything they do. Essentially, you will be getting a senior lawyer to sign off on your file for the cost of an articling student – this is a considerable cost saving to you! Articling students are also covered under their principal’s insurance and are members of the Law Society of Alberta.

There are also some differences when hiring an articling student as compared to a lawyer, which you also need to take into consideration before making your decision. The most prominent thing you will notice is that the process may take longer with an articling student. Since the student is still learning, they need to check in with their principal and have things reviewed before sending them out. The principal may not always be immediately available, and therefore there will sometimes be a delay in response. Another thing you may notice when being represented by an articling student is that they do not have as much court experience, and may appear nervous when in front of a judge.

That said, with the supervision of their principal, a student is just as capable of helping you through your legal matter. Recently, I assigned a student of Resolve Legal Group, Katie Ayer (who is now a practicing lawyer with our firm) a matter that involved many moving parts that some senior lawyers would not be able to keep up with! I worried about taking on this file due to the significant risk the client was facing of not getting any settlement. Katie took this file and quickly moved it to its conclusion, and a result much better than any of us – including the client – were expecting! Because this client trusted a student, they get to keep more of the money they are receiving in their settlement!

At RESOLVE LEGAL GROUP, articling students are under the direct supervision of Resolve’s owner and senior counsel, Cyndy Morin. If you are interested in meeting one of Resolve’s articling students to help you through your family law matter, please contact our Client Support Coordinator at 403-229-2365.