1. Gain transferrable skills, wherever your career may take you
Not every moment of your education has to be in a classroom, or by “sitting and watching”. At a small boutique firm, on the job learning offers a unique perspective that cannot be found in other articling positions. While some larger firms may offer academic lectures, workshops, or “lunch and learns” in a group “en masse” environment – at a smaller firm, you can expect to get “tossed into the deep end”, gaining hands on experience from Day 1. You won’t experience “death by powerpoint” – we know that law school has already given you the “theoretical foundation”, and it’s time to put that foundation to use on real files, with real clients.
Important skills such as research, evidence gathering and compilation, and problem solving will be valuable as you learn to draft, instruct your team, and maneuver your way through various tribunals and court processes. Additionally, working alongside established professionals will provide insights into how important collaboration, time management and delegation skills are used to ensure success in your career.
By gaining these applied skills over the course of your articling year, you can expect to develop a foundation in drafting, file management, trademark prosecution and opposition, client interaction, strategizing, litigation skills (e.g.’s include serving and filing with the courts, cross-examinations, and preparing for oral hearings), as well as law firm “business acumen”. These competencies will allow you to gain confidence in yourself, an integral part of finding success and thriving in the legal field.
Should you find down the line that IP is not for you? No problem. While we hire our articling students with a view of long-term association, these skills are transferrable in other areas of law. For a brief list of some of our previous “articling student alumni”, see here.
2. Direct access to senior counsel, IP agent, and associate lawyer
When we say you will be part of a team, we mean it. You will not be given assignments through a work distribution software. You will receive direct mentorship, instruction, and guidance from our Managing Principal, Associate Lawyer, and Senior Registered Trademark Agent. From when a file is first assigned to you, to when documents are served and filed, and an oral hearing is heard before the Court or the Trademarks Opposition Board, an articling student at OLLIP will be part of every step of the file. No knocking on doors here to see if you can attend the oral hearing – if you touched the file, you’re in!
All that being said, be expected to be treated more like a “first year associate lawyer” as opposed to a “fresh grad out of law school”. You will have daily “check-in’s” with our Managing Principal to talk about your progress. You will also have one-on-one strategy discussions with each professional on our team (i.e., Managing Principal, Senior Trademark Agent, and Associate Lawyer). In other words, expect to be relied on as you apply your law school knowledge to real life files, but likewise, expect to have support from each of OLLIP’s professionals which you in turn can rely on.
3. Develop lasting relationships to nurture your professional growth
The ability to make connections in a small environment can lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships. Developing and fostering these professional relationships benefits you as you strive to achieve your career goals. Beyond networking opportunities, these connections can be long-lasting and provide you support in your personal and professional development.
4. Engage in meaningful work on files, both small and large
Don’t expect to be but another “cog in the clockwork” at a smaller firm. Be prepared to run a file from start to finish, starting with sitting in on client meetings, through to research, strategizing, document preparation, and making contributions to the oral hearing (if we don’t send you ourselves, within the permitted rights of appearance for an articling student). Expect to offer your opinions on the next directions files will take. While articling students often only see “pieces” of files (i.e., a memo here, one affidavit there …), expect to gain a holistic knowledge of how a file proceeds (and thus, the file management required) from inception to final work product (or even judgment, in the case of litigation) at OLLIP P.C. In other words, you will see the impact of your work product – it will not simply “sit on senior counsel’s desk”.
Articling students at OLLIP P.C. can be prepared to run smaller files (e.g., solicitor’s assessments of costs, small claims), be involved in files before IP administrative tribunals (e.g. the Trademarks Opposition Board), as well as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Federal Court, and even Federal Court of Appeal. While we admit the learning curve can at times be “steep”, you can expect your confidence in your legal skills to grow with the same kind of trajectory!
Having a smaller work environment also allows for students to have a say on the work they do, and tasks or areas of interest can be highlighted, focused and nurtured, if the desired work aligns with firm practices. For example, if there is a cross-exam going on, and you would like to watch – feel free to ask! If you have an increased interest in litigation, having another file can be arranged. Access to flexible and dynamic work allows you to make your articling experience your own.
5. Emphasis on the “elusive” work-life balance
We’re not going to pretend that articles are easy – they’re not. We’re also not going to pretend that in the practice of law that there aren’t conflicting deadlines – they happen. There will be ebbs and flows, and the learning curve from student to lawyer can be steep. That said, as a smaller firm, the key to managing file volume is planning, planning, planning! Given this, students are better able to identify the “ebbs” among the “flows”, and pursue interests outside the office – whether that be a hobby, volunteering, or simple rest and relaxation. While we love what we do and give our work our 100%, we still do our best to “work to live”, as opposed to “live to work”.
6. Sample Files Previously Worked on by Articling Students at OLLIP
If you’ve made it this far in our description, you probably want to know “what everyone else has done”. While the list below is not exhaustive, it should provide you a “flavour” of real work on real files done by real articling students (all examples are drawn from files in the last five (5) years):
- Responses to Examiners’ Reports before the Trademarks Office – e.g.’s include for a small cheese company, a sportswear company, technology development corporations (in Canada and abroad), and coffee roasteries and confectionaries, in Ontario and abroad
- Assist with cross-examinations (such as planning possible objections) before the Trademarks Opposition Board
- Preparation of evidence, drafting affidavits and preparing witnesses for cross-examination in Federal Court proceedings on IP infringement
- Review of software and licensing agreements, and providing a summary of “next steps” for clients
- Review of a client’s privacy regulatory and security compliance including next steps in case of data breach
- Preparing parties for alternative dispute resolution processes, such as court-assisted mediation
- Legal research, drafting of research memos and facta for various tribunals and courts, including the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Small Claims Court, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Federal Court, & the Federal Court of Appeal
- File management and correspondence again with various tribunals and courts, including the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Small Claims Court, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Federal Court, & the Federal Court of Appeal
- Sitting in on client meetings, and providing follow-up correspondence to clients (under a lawyer’s supervision)
- Drafting legal opinions on contract disputes
- Appearing in oral hearings (where the LSO Rules grant students-at-law rights of appearance) and assisting senior counsel in hearings before the Trademarks Opposition Board, Federal Court, and Federal Court of Appeal
- Research, strategize, and draft cybersquatting complaints for filing with the Domain Name Dispute Resolution – World Intellectual Property Office Arbitration and Mediation Centre