Two words no law student would envision using in the same sentence: pandemic and placement. Yet this is the reality for all third-year law students at Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.
The ‘Integrated Practice Curriculum’ at Lakehead University combines the theory of law with practical skills of the profession, which includes a four-month practice placement in the student’s third year. The focus of this program is to provide students with hands-on experience and to see its graduates practice ready.
Covid-19 has caused unprecedented change to many aspects of the legal system. However, for placement students these changes are our normal. We do not know anything different from the Zoom courtroom, accidentally leaving your microphone unmuted, pairing a blazer with sweatpants, and spending countless hours in front of a screen.
Arguably the most difficult part of our pandemic placement is trying to be more than just an email to your co-workers and making a good impression despite any in-person interaction. There is also the challenge of drafting documents and completing tasks for the first time without bombarding co-workers with emails, which is much harder provided that you cannot walk down the hall and start knocking on lawyers’ doors for their input.
As millions worldwide try to balance too much work, not enough sleep, and an unyielding feeling of uncertainty, students set to graduate in the coming months also face the added stress of entering into a pandemic ridden workforce. During this difficult time, it is important to help students transition from school to the professional world.
Where I work, people take the time and effort to ensure that I am still getting the most out of my experience. I look forward to the day when we can do something as simple as going out to grab a coffee and discuss a case. Until then, a pandemic placement provides law students the opportunity to learn how to adapt and become resilient to the challenges of our new world.