Dear future Co-Op student at the CLCYR,
Working at the Community Legal Clinic of York Region you are going to get to learn a significant amount of new knowledge. There will be so much you will get to experience and its a whole other side of law that you may have never even known existed.
Job Description: In two words I would best describe your job as a legal secretary. A lot of your job will have to do with paperwork and working on the computer with Word and Excel. There will be a wide variety of paperwork that you will learn to do. From copying papers, opening cases and even writing cheque requisitions, you will learn to perform many tasks. Yet it will be important for you to follow exact steps and be able to problem solve.
2 Recommendations for Success: My first tip for future students would be to make sure you take very good initial notes when learning how to perform tasks. You will often not do a certain job for a while and will forget how to do it so, if you have a well-scripted notebook it will make things easier for you. My second piece of advice would be to always double check all your work and do not try to multitask. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the work in front of you, the phone ringing and clients coming in. I would say slow down and just focus on one task at a time giving you less chance for mistakes, because the job position encompasses a lot of responsibility and one mistake can ruin a whole case. Lastly, it is important you consistently have polite and professional attitude at the placement. You will be dealing with real live cases, clients as well as lawyers so it important you try and show them that you take your job seriously. The environment at this office is wonderful because the people working there are very understanding and polite, so show them the same respect and they will appreciate you.
Challenges I faced: I found that at a certain point you will have gotten to know your way around the office and start to get comfortable with your work. It is important that you do not get too confident in your work and stop paying attention to the details. Any error made can cause serious problems, so it is important to never lose focus. I fixed this by setting up a system of where I would double check all my work before sending it off to make sure it is all correct. I refocused myself, fixed the details I was missing from my script and most importantly took responsibility for my actions. Do not ever be scared to ask for help when needed.
Overall Impression: I came into co-op at the beginning of the semester hungry for the taste of a large law firm in downtown Toronto. But do to scheduling issues I had to stay local and now at the end of the semester, I totally do not regret it. I love the fact that the commute is so close to school and the close community feeling this office gave me. Everyone was kind to me from day one. I even got to go to an actual hearing. There is a lot you can experience here. If I had the space next year I would most definitely take Co-Op again and come back to this exact placement because it gave me the hands-on experience I always desired.