Bay Street Bound: A record recruiting year | Student Stories | Fall & Winter 2021 | NEXUS Magazine | The Faculty of Law | UNB

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Bay Street Bound: a record recruiting year

Alla Al-Arabi (BLG, summer student), Mark Browne (McCarthy Tétrault, summer student), Dylan Gallant (Bennett Jones, summer student) Frank Gillies (Davies, summer student), Madison Janes (BLG, summer student), and Alexandra Steinberg (DLA Piper, summer student 2021, articling student 2022,)

UNB Law students are heading to Bay Street in the spring of 2022—the most since at least a decade. Alla Al-Arabi (2L), Mark Browne (2L), Dylan Gallant (2L), Frank Gillies (2L), Madison Janes (2L), and Alexandra Steinberg (3L) have all accepted positions with some of the most prominent full-service law firms in the country—and the world.

Al-Arabi and Janes will join Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) as summer students; Browne will summer with McCarthy Tétrault; Gallant with Bennett Jones LLP; and Gillies with Davies. Steinberg will return to DLA Piper for articles, having completed a summer placement in 2021.

For Browne, a former MHA who served in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly, the idea of working on Bay Street had never crossed his mind. He pursued the opportunity after being contacted by the Faculty’s Career Services Office, which advised him that he would be a competitive candidate, both academically and otherwise. 

"This was never something that I had anticipated or thought about. My entire career has been in public service, values which I still carry today. But having the opportunity to work in the country’s top legal market among some of the greatest legal minds is a terrific opportunity for any young, aspiring lawyer."

Like Browne, Al-Arabi also did not see herself pursuing a career on Bay Street.

"Originally, I saw myself working in small boutique firms until I exposed myself to the benefits of working in a full-service firm. As well, after taking contract law with the excellent Prof. Panezi, I realized there was a world of transactional work that I would love to learn more about."

Browne was struck by how 'early' everything seemed to happen in terms of legal recruitment. Many law school recruitment jobs are designed to apply nearly a year in advance, this was no exception. He found the process time-consuming but not stressful.

"I am a firm believer in que sera, sera: what will be, will be. Things work out as they should. I felt entirely supported by UNB Law from the Dean to the Career Services Office. UNB Law is a small but mighty community."

Al-Arabi describes the application process as grueling, taking approximately six months from start to finish. She began with networking in early June through online webinars hosted by participating firms. Next came cover letter and resume writing. She spent weeks editing, tailoring her letters to the specific firms with the assistance of the Career Services Office. 

"During the writing process, Martha McClellan, [Manager of Academic Affairs and Student Services], and Gillian Tillard, [Career Services Officer], were incredibly supportive. They helped edit and re-edit my materials. After sending in my materials in August, I felt good about my application and was hoping to get at least one OCI."

Al-Arabi did better than that.

"The OCI stage was honestly fun; I interviewed with six firms, 17 minutes each. It was a great way to get a glimpse into the types of firms I could be joining. The initial stressful part came during the FIRST call day, when the firms were trying to schedule in-firm interviews—90-minutes long with several key partners and members of the firm."

Al-Arabi was invited to interview in-person with several firms over two days. "Martha was there for me the whole time. After every interview, we’d call and debrief. I remember there were a few days when she and I were just emailing back and forth late into the night because she knew how stressed I was. When the offer came in on Wednesday evening, it felt like the past 6 months were worth it and all my hard work paid off."

Browne looks forward to joining McCarthy Tétrault and the diversity of experience and practice areas that come with the firm. As a summer student, he will enjoy a degree of latitude to try different areas of law and get involved with a variety of files. He was drawn to the firm’s commitment to Pro Bono work, including the number of high-profile constitutional law cases in which they have acted as an intervenor.

"I was blessed to have worked in public service, at both the federal and provincial levels, and remain guided by those values. Every day was different, giving me the opportunity to put my skills to use in varying ways. On one day you could be helping an individual access government services while the next negotiating a multi-million-dollar industrial agreement. I believe the law will provide the same kind of intellectual challenge to do significant, serious, and meaningful work."

A targeted approach to career services 

To enhance UNB’s reputation as a national law school, it is imperative that its graduates are landing competitive jobs across the country and around the world. This includes the summer and articling recruitment process on Bay Street.

This year’s record number of placements is the result of a deliberate strategy by the Career Services Office and the Dean to re-establish UNB Law’s presence in Toronto. It also furthers the Faculty’s commitment to being a student-centred law school totally devoted to helping students achieve their highest potential. These objectives were identified in the Faculty’s Strategic Plan adopted by the UNB Board of Governors last year.

In addition to the high number of placements, the statistics from this year also demonstrate UNB Law’s success. Of the 18 students who applied for positions during this fall’s Toronto recruitment process, 14 received on-campus interviews, 10 received in-firm interviews, and 5 received offers. So, how was this achieved?

One of the benefits of UNB Law’s small size is the individual attention students receive from the Career Services Office. Beginning in the spring, Martha McClellan and Gillian Tillard, proactively identified competitive candidates and reached to them out directly. 

"It is critical to have quality applicants," said McClellan, "and we had many. We engaged in dedicated, individualized outreach with these competitive students; even if they had not signaled an interest or were on the fence, we encouraged them to at least come in and discuss the opportunity. We told them, 'you can do this,' and encouraged them to participate, assuring them that we were there to support them—one-on-one—along the entire journey."

This support began by individually reviewing all applications, resumes and cover letters, and helping the students tailor these documents for each position and firm. Next, Martha and Gillian helped the students prepare for their on-campus interviews and handled scheduling and logistics. Martha coached students on how to handle job interview call day and managing the nuances of the in-firm interview process. She worked to demystify the process for students and give them the confidence to trust their instincts.

"Our intention was to make sure there were as few surprises as possible throughout the process. We acted as a sounding board for concerns, offered moral support, and tried to answer their questions about anything and everything."

Another crucial element of this new strategy is the relationship-building work of Dean Marin, who, since becoming Dean, has been connecting with law firms across the country to communicate the UNB Law advantage. This included travelling to Toronto to meet with lawyers and recruiting directors at national law firms to educate them on the strengths of the Faculty’s JD program.

"It is part of my role as Dean to ensure that our name is known on Bay Street, that these national and international firms understand the high-quality legal education our students receive. That they understand how and why we produce graduates who are prepared to be successful in any aspect of the legal profession."

For Dean Marin, it is about ensuring that these employers know about UNB Law, what makes it special, and why its students make great hires. In addition to developing relationships with the lawyers and the recruiting teams at these firms, Dean Marin has also been focused on building relationships with UNB Law alumni in Toronto, on Bay Street, and beyond. 

"Students come to UNB Law from across the country, and we are working hard to connect them with opportunities in every province. We have alumni at all of these firms; they are our greatest champions. We want to provide them with opportunities to support our students and promote the UNB Law within their organizations. I know that they are proud of their law school and want to see the next generation of UNB Law graduates succeeding and ideally joining their firms."

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