An interview with: 3rd year Law Clerk Student – Katie Vickerson
We’ve all heard the saying, “Advice is worth exactly what you pay for it – if it’s free advice, it’s not worth anything!” I beg to differ when it comes to advice for students from students. Whether you are considering the Law Clerk Advanced program or are currently in it and about to embark on your first field placement, Katie’s words of wisdom are for you!
What made you decide to take the Law Clerk program?
Growing up I was always interested in law among other things. When I graduated from high school I did not know what I wanted to take in college so I took 2 years off to work. I found out about the Law Clerk program from my sister who graduated from the program and from one of my friends who was currently in her second year of the program. I decided to go to the Durham College open house and after hearing about the program and how successful it was for students who graduated, I knew it was the program for me.
What have you enjoyed the most about the program?
I enjoy the variety in terms of the areas of law you get to experience and learn about. By the end of the 3-year program, you have been exposed to so many areas of law that you definitely get a better idea of what you like and dislike and what you want to pursue after graduation. Another thing that I enjoyed about the program is that all of my professors actually have years of on-the- job experience that they share with you, and in return it helps make your learning more interesting.
What were some concerns you had as you started the program?
I wondered if I was going to enjoy it as much as I thought, was I going to be successful, was it going to make me want to continue to pursue a career as a law clerk after graduation or go back to school for a different program? All the typical concerns I think many students have.
What about when you were getting ready for your first field placement?
One of my main concerns when getting ready for field placement was if I was ready enough to go into the field. I would constantly think about possibly being asked to do something I didn’t know how to do or couldn’t remember how to do. I thought the field placement would expect me to know everything. That is definitely not the case; they knew I was a student and they were there to help me learn and show me how to do things so that I would be prepared and confident for when I graduated.
What has been one of the highlights from your field placement experiences?
The best experience from my field placement is how friendly, understanding, and patient everyone is. I’ve learned so much from everyone and feel so much more confident coming out of my field placement than I did going into it!
What about the challenges of field placement?
It can be hard sometimes to be vocal and ask questions about things I don’t understand or things that I have forgotten. I am still learning and I am still quite shy and fearful of possibly messing up. That is definitely something I need to work on personally though and has nothing to do with the field placement host.
What advice do you have for 2nd year students who will be going on placement soon?
I remember how nervous I was when thinking about going on field placement and how it almost prevented me from securing a field placement. My advice to students who will be going on placement soon is to listen to your teachers, family and friends when they tell you that the placement hosts aren’t expecting you to know everything! Every host that takes you on will be understanding and will teach you everything you need to know. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay because even the experienced law clerks and lawyers make mistakes, trust me.
My second little bit of advice would be to try an area of law that you’re not sure of or that you think you don’t enjoy. I never thought I would want to work in real estate law until I secured my 3rd year field placement as a real estate law clerk.
What advice do you have for people who are considering taking the Law Clerk Advanced program?
If you have an interest in law, then you should take this program because you won’t regret it. I was told at the open house that this program would not only be interesting, but it also had a high success rate for students securing a job after graduation and it’s true. The three years go by quickly so enjoy it, prioritize your time well, and stay focused.
What are your future plans?
I am currently doing my 3rd year field placement at Thomas, Efraim LLP in downtown Oshawa. They specialize in real estate law, corporate law, administrative law, and wills and estates. They have offered me a full-time position as a real estate law clerk after I graduate from this program!