Western Law is launching the Summer After 1L Program (SA1L), connecting all doctor of jurisprudence (JD) students with law-related paid summer placements after their first year of studies. The program will also allow students to rank their preferences in terms of placement and choose from a variety of host options.
This is believed to be the first targeted program at a Canadian law school specifically designed to help first-year law students (1Ls) get legal experience after first year.
Through this optional program, all interested students will be eligible for a minimum of 10 weeks of meaningful legal experience starting in summer 2024.
“The SA1L Program will give our students a head start in the professional legal world, expose them to different types of legal careers , and provide them with financial support. We hope to remove the uncertainty new law students may feel towards gaining legal experience,” said Erika Chamberlain, dean of Western Law.
“Connecting students to law-related placements early in their studies will deepen their academic experience through research and experiential learning, and will also benefit the work of our faculty, clinics, and other important community agencies,” she said.
While opportunities for law firm employment for 1L students have been increasing in recent years, positions are still relatively rare and highly competitive. Western Law’s Career and Professional Development Office will continue to support 1Ls seeking law firm employment.
The addition of SA1L will mean that all 1L students have access to law-related professional experience before heading into second year.
Placements through SA1L will include faculty research assistants, positions at Western Law’s legal clinics, and through the Western Law Internship Program (WLIP), as well as with other local agencies, non-profits, and offices on campus. Students may also be eligible for self-proposed internships.
The application process will be administered through a centralized portal that enables students to apply for multiple positions at once and rank their preferences. Students will be able to make informed decisions, with the ability to access all options at the same time.
This program builds on Western Law’s robust career supports for students, including one-on-one counselling for career planning and the recruitment process, the annual career conference, and the mentor program.
Western Law consistently has among the top placement rates in Canada, with over 90 per cent of students securing articles after graduation.