Feedback Sought on Recruitment Rules
Prior to June 2010, the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta were limited to the regulation of articling recruitment. In June 2010, the Law Society adopted changes to the Rules which dealt with the recruitment of first year summer students. As significant dissatisfaction was expressed by students and employers, the Recruitment Rule Subcommittee was struck to re-evaluate the Rules and develop recommendations.
The subcommittee consulted extensively, holding round-table discussions in Calgary and Edmonton to canvass employers on the impact of the rule changes and to seek their input as to how the Rules should be structured. Consultations were also held with representatives of the faculties of law at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. As a result of this consultation, the subcommittee has developed the following objectives:
- Facilitate a process for the organized recruitment of law students.
- Ensure fairness in the recruiting process.
- Provide clarity as to the process.
- Reduce the length of time between interviews and offers of employment to first-year summer students.
- Prevent employers from recruiting first-year law students in the first semester of law school.
- Eliminate “intention to offer” language in the articling recruitment process and shorten timeframe for offers.
In order to facilitate these objectives. the subcommittee has proposed several changes to the Rules. Each of the proposed changes is set out below.
Change in Definition of Recruitment Activity.
The proposed amendments would see a return to the pre-June 2010 definition of recruitment activity which reads as follows:
Any activity, the primary objective of which is to place a particular student with an employer, and includes the conduct of interviews; the offer of provision of gifts, meals or entertainment on an exclusive or selective basis; and the making or solicitation of offers of employment but does not include the scheduling of interviews or the participation in scholarship and prize programs, career fairs, seminars hosted by law schools or similar activities where the primary intent is not to recruit a particular student or students.
This definition effectively captures the variety of activities employers use to recruit students. It is not meant to capture career days or other law school sponsored interactions between students and potential employers.
Bringing back this definition of “recruitment activity” means that this sort of activity will only be permitted during defined recruitment periods and can not take place all year long.
Clearly Defined Recruitment Period for 1st year Students
While there are a variety of opinions on the recruitment of first-year students, the majority view is that first-year students should be left alone during their first semester and should not be recruited until after Christmas of their first year. By changing the definition of recruitment activity, as above, the Rules will now effectively prevent employers from engaging in any recruitment activity with first-year students until the recruitment period as defined by the Law Society. As was the case in 2012, the first year recruitment period will likely be set annually in February. As a result of these changes, employers wishing to hire first-year students will have to wait until after Christmas to engage with first-year students.
Remove “intention to offer” from the Rules and Shorten the Recruitment Period
The Rules currently allow firms to communicate an “intention to offer” to a student during the articling recruitment period. Feedback from employers and students indicate that this language is confusing and adds nothing to the process. The subcommittee is therefore recommending that this language be removed.
In its place, the subcommittee proposes that neither offers, nor intentions to offer can be communicated to student candidates until a set offer day and time. Currently, the subcommittee is suggesting that offers can be given the first Thursday of the recruitment period at 5 pm. While this shortens the period of time from the previous rules, feedback from employers was clearly in favour of a shortened time period as most recruitment activity is completed by the Thursday of first week of the recruitment period. It is then proposed that the offers must remain open for a set period of time.
Second Year Summer Student Recruitment
The subcommittee understands that second year summer recruitment is currently conducted in September and October with offers typically going out to students the first week of November. The recruitment period for second-year students is longer due to the schedule of On-Campus Interviews (OCIs) that occur across Canada in September and October. Many firms send representatives coast to coast to conduct these interviews.
Currently, there are no rules in place with regard to second year summer student recruitment. While recognizing that the current system appears to be working, the subcommittee discussed the possibility of putting a framework around second year summer student recruitment in order to be consistent and ensure there is no void in the Rules. If such a framework were adopted it would likely mimic the timing currently in place.
The subcommittee would welcome input from interested stakeholders on whether or not there should be Rules in place to structure second year summer student recruitment.
The net result of these changes is that, similar to other Canadian jurisdictions, we will have three distinct recruitment periods annually in Alberta: one for first-year summer students (in February of their first year), one for second-year summer students (between September – October of their second year), and one for articling students (in June of their second year).
The subcommittee’s recommendations were presented to and considered by the Credentials & Education Committee. The committee now seeks your input with respect to these objectives. Please provide your written comments to Angela Gallo-Dewar, Credentials & Education Lawyer by June 15, 2012 to Membership@lawsociety.ab.ca