In front of a courtroom packed with colleagues, family, and friends, Legal Aid Alberta’s (LAA) 2018/2019 articling students were admitted to the bar last week after completing a 12-month term that had them practicing in areas of law across the organization.
During the 1 year articling term, Bobbi Jo Hennigar, Lauren Turner and Orin Tomlinson were assigned to a staff lawyer, also known as a principal, to supervise them. During this time the student is considered to be a “lawyer in training” and works with their principal to expand their knowledge and work experience. This includes tasks such as attending court, providing legal advice, researching files and drafting legal documents.
Our role in the professional development of aspiring lawyers through the LAA Articling Student Program is central to our goal of being a Centre of Excellence in all that we do. As an organization we are able to give back to the legal community through experience and mentorship of students like these.
One of the benefits of articling with LAA is that students get exposure to different areas of law. In the case of our students, each of them received experience with family, criminal (both adult and youth), and corporate law. Having a broad understanding of the justice system and the practice areas of law is paramount to any lawyers’ development. We are proud to have supported the growth of these three new lawyers and know they can take away what they learned during their time at LAA and make positive contributions to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our justice system.
The bar call ceremony on August 16, 2019 had many formal moments but was also filled with cheerfulness and laughter. Many friends and family were in attendance, some who had traveled from quite far away, and staff from across the organization also came out to show their support. In other provinces, being admitted to the bar happens much like graduation where everyone is in a very large group. Bar calls in Alberta are unique in that you can opt for a private, more intimate ceremony as we did for our students.
After hearing applications from the principals, Provincial Court Judge Julie Lloyd addressed the students directly, shared some sage advice and approved their applications. This was followed by the swearing of an oath. Then each student addressed the court and expressed gratitude to the friend, family and colleagues who supported them through their journey.
LAA staff lawyer and principal Goli Yohannes said that the new lawyers are “passionate and eager to hit the ground running.” The most rewarding part of being a principal for her was watching the students grow and develop their own style.
LAA’s role in the Alberta justice system is unique. As the majority of our clients are low-income, vulnerable Albertans, the students were able to experience firsthand the impact that LAA makes in Alberta and how we support fairness in the justice system.
“The types of challenges our clients face makes our work unique. As a legal aid lawyer, you have to sift through all of the other issues that our clients face and determine how those issues affect their case,” said Yohannes. “It’s not for everyone.”
We are confident the newly-minted lawyers will take the lessons learned from their time at LAA and apply them in their careers to help ensure access to justice for all.
In the photo, from left to right: Orin Tomlinson, new Lawyer; Andrew Holko, supervising Lawyer; John Radosh, supervising Lawyer; Bobbi-Jo Hennigar, new lawyer; Goli Yohannes, supervising Lawyer and Lauren Turner, new Lawyer.