Labour and employment law: An exciting and ever-evolving area
Labour and employment law refers to the vast array of laws governing the employment relationship for both unionized employees (labour law) and non-union employees (employment law).
L&E lawyers are involved in topical issues with far-reaching legal and social ramifications. It is a truly exciting area of practice, given the breadth of issues, the opportunities for advocacy, and the scope to shape Canadian workplaces.
Another benefit of practising management side labour and employment law is that it typically involves developing ongoing and stable relationships with clients.
L&E lawyers also have unique access to workplaces and businesses. Our lawyers have toured and learned the operational details of everything from paper mills to automotive manufacturers, postal facilities, schools and stage production companies.
Working with employers to create better workplaces
Working with management allows lawyers to have a direct impact on working lives.
Labour and employment law encompasses everything from basic employment entitlements, such as overtime and holiday pay, to workplace injuries and fatalities, human rights issues, and union organizing and representation.
As well, we are regularly involved in:
- Helping employers draft and implement policies and procedures to ensure employees work in safe environments, free from harassment.
- Training managers on best practices as well as how best to comply with applicable legislative and contractual obligations, including collective agreements.
- Working on innovative initiatives such as employee buyouts and alternative work arrangements like work from home programs.
Management-side L&E law is advocacy-focused
Management-side labour law is a litigation-focused legal practice that is fast-moving, challenging and extremely rewarding.
Labour and employment lawyers litigate more regularly than lawyers in virtually any other practice area, including traditional civil litigation. Our lawyers regularly appear before the courts and administrative tribunals, often with multiple hearings each week.
We are also regularly involved in negotiations and alternative dispute resolution. In fact, management-side labour lawyers have greater involvement in negotiations than their union-side counterparts. Employers regularly retain us to represent them in the collective bargaining and other negotiations. By contrast, unions typically have internal staff conduct negotiations.
What we look for in a student: Strong academics, interest in advocacy and L&E law
We are interested in meeting students who have a strong academic background and who are keen to develop expertise in the specialized area of L&E law.
While we consider it an asset to have taken labour and employment-related courses at law school, we are impressed by those who have demonstrated their ability to handle demanding courses of any type. An interest in and aptitude for advocacy is necessary.
As students work closely with various members of our firm and often deal directly with clients, we also attach importance to an individual’s interpersonal skills and versatility; students should be comfortable in both formal and informal settings.
The firm welcomes and encourages applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available upon request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process.
Broad, hands-on exposure to the practice of law
Our students are naturally involved in researching the law, which often includes novel and topical points. However, they also participate in many of the practical and necessary aspects of practice, such as meeting with clients, interviewing witnesses, and assuming responsibility for the preparatory work required for a hearing or trial.
Our students are regularly involved in cases from beginning to end. We strongly encourage them to attend and assist at the hearings of matters they have helped prepare.
Through this hands-on approach, our students come to appreciate the practical and legal aspects of practising L&E law and they gain a real understanding of how their research and preparatory work affects the cases our firm handles. Moreover, they share the sense of achievement that comes with seeing a matter through to a successful conclusion.
Summer Students: A stepping stone to articling
For the past few years, we have hired summer students, then chosen our articling students from our summer student cohort. Our summer students enjoy the same kind of experience as our articling students – interesting work, exposure to many aspects of labour and employment law, and hands-on learning.
Articling Student Rotation
In light of our broad and diverse L&E practice, we use a rotation system to ensure articling students are exposed to all aspects of L&E law. This includes Labour Board proceedings, arbitrations, negotiations, and individual employment law matters such as wrongful dismissal suits and matters before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Each articling student’s year is divided into rotations of three to four-months each. During each rotation, the student is assigned to a group of partners. This allows every partner an opportunity to work with and get to know with each student.
To ensure all summer and articling students have a positive experience throughout their time with the firm, we have a Student Recruitment and Articling Committee, made up of three of the firm’s partners. This Committee has general oversight and responsibility for our Student Program.
Each articling student is assigned a mentor from among the firm’s partners. Mentors:
- Act as a resource and confidante.
- Help monitor the student’s workload to ensure the student is gaining exposure to all practice areas and is not being under or over-utilized.
- Are available to meet with students throughout the articling term to answer any questions, discuss their experience, and provide feedback on their performance.
Mentors also participate in a formal review of our students’ work midway through the articling term. The main purpose of this review is to identify types of work that the student should be exposed to in order to round out the articling experience.
Our firm encourages an open-door policy. Students may turn to associates and partners to answer questions and provide guidance and advice throughout their articling term.
Each of our articling students has their own office, and each is assigned a legal assistant. As part of their orientation, students are trained on how to best use the wide variety of available in-house library and online resources. To help develop our students’ knowledge of L&E law, we also hold regular seminars throughout the year on important labour topics.
In recognition of the firm’s high standards, our firm’s policy is to provide salaries and benefits that are competitive with those provided by the major GTA law firms. Articling students are covered by an excellent extended health care plan, as well as a group life insurance plan. Articling students can also take advantage of our firm’s fitness subsidy.
Our firm is committed to growing from within. In the last decade, without exception, we have at hired one or more of our three to four articling students as associate lawyers. We are also proud of the fact that most of the students who have not joined our firm have successfully pursued a career elsewhere in the field of L&E law.
Meet our Students
2019/2020 Articling Students
Jordan graduated from Queen’s in 2019 where he completed his joint degrees in Law and his Masters in Industrial Relations. He previously received his BA in Law and Legal Studies from Carleton university during which time he worked as a Research Assistant with the Public Service Labour Relations Board. During his time at Queen’s, Jordan served as a student representative on the advisory committee of the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, and was co-President of the Labour and Employment Law Club. In his spare time, Jordan likes to relax by painting.
Tawanda has completed a Masters of Law at Osgoode. He has previously obtained his BA and LLB from Rhodes University in South Africa. He also has a Masters of Law from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where he specialized in Employment and Labour Law. He has completed his bar examinations and is qualified to practice law in Zimbabwe. He has previously worked at law firms in Africa. He was the Assistant Prosecutor for University Student Discipline while at Rhodes University. He is bilingual in English and Shona. He represented his university’s soccer team, and enjoys fitness, safari and house boat game viewing, particularly at Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.
Amrita is a 2019 Juris Doctor graduate from Osgoode Hall Law School. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Labour Studies from McMaster University, as well as a Master of Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto. During her time at Osgoode, Amrita volunteered as a caseworker with the Community and Legal Aid Services Program and the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic. She is fluent in Punjabi and Hindi, and conversational in Urdu.
Clifton received his Juris Doctor from Queen’s University Faculty of Law and has an undergraduate degree from York University with a double major in Sociology and Human Rights and Equity Studies. Prior to law school, Clifton worked as a licensed paralegal in a boutique employment law firm. Clifton is fluent in conversation Cantonese and enjoys going to the gym, playing squash, and trying new food.
2019 Summer Students
Andrew is in his second year at Queen’s University, where he is the co-President of the Labour and Employment Club. He has a Masters in Industrial Relations, also from Queen’s. He received his undergrad degree from McMaster. He placed second in Queen’s annual labour law moot, and is the volunteer editor of the Canadian Labour and Employment Journal. He is a lifelong fan of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays.
Kimberly is in her second year at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University. She has a Bachelor in Sport Management (Honours) from Brock University. She has numerous awards and scholarships. Kimberly has spent time working as a research assistant with a focus on how amateur athlete agreements and employment laws impact the Canadian sports landscape. She has also worked as a Press Operations Supervisor for the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games. During law school, Kimberly has worked as a caseworker for Community Legal Services in Thunder Bay and is also a member of the Labour Law Association. Kimberly speaks fluent French, enjoys reading historical dramas, food tours and travelling.
Stephanie is in her second year at the University of Windsor. She received her undergrad degree from New York University, where she majored in political science, with a minor in economics. She also studied at La Sorbonne in Paris, France. She has spent several years working in human resources at a company with 1500 unionized employees, where she helped train employees in occupational health and safety. In law school, she has competed in six moots, including one negotiation and was a finalist in Windsor Law’s Zuber Moot. Her interests include powerlifting and volunteering with Windsor’s Community Legal Aid.
Daniel is in his second year at Western University. He has an undergrad degree in criminal justice and public policy from the University of Guelph. This past summer, he had a legal internship with Jungjin Law Firm in South Korea. He is an experienced mooter, and developed and oversaw a children’s day care service while on a mission trip in Guadalajara, Mexico. In his spare time, Daniel likes to play the guitar and enjoys soccer (where he has competed in international tournaments), football and basketball.