(English) A Student’s Perspective ­— What does a student-at-law do at a law firm?

As a law student, when you start being bombarded with posters, handouts, and giveaways, you know that the Course aux stages has already begun. But behind all of this, what would you actually do if you worked at one of the law firms part of the Course? Let me pull back the curtain and give you an insider’s look at some of the work done this summer by students at RSS.

RSS has a student committee which manages student work mandates. It is responsible to distribute work to the different students. This work can consist of a wide variety of tasks. It can sometimes be as straightforward as translating various French proceedings into English in order that they may be served in the U.S. or as complex as drafting a research memo on a subject of which you have little knowledge.

Some other tasks include preparing conferences, being a court runner, attending examinations, and attending court hearings.

Let’s go through all of these one by one:

Translation: Due to RSS’s range of provincial, national, and international clients, proceedings, letters, and other legal documents often have to be in more than one language. A judgment may be rendered in French, but the client may be American and will expect to receive an English summary. This task is an opportunity to learn how to prepare these types of documents for when the time ultimately arrives when you are the one drafting them from start to finish.

Research memos: Research memos make up a large percentage of a student’s work. These memos range from finding relevant case law to support a certain position all the way to analyzing the applicable law for a given situation and concluding on the manner in which a Court would likely decide the matter. This research often involves taking the time to search through online legal databases, reading the pertinent cases law on the subject, and reading any relevant doctrine on the subject in the RSS library.

Preparing conferences: RSS has many leading legal experts in several different fields of law and often, some of these individuals are asked to give conferences. A student is often tasked with the conference’s preparatory work. The preparation required is generally dependent upon the nature of the conference, but it often entails researching the conference subject, and preparing the presentation material and the accompanying visual aids.

Court runner: Taking advantage of RSS’s close proximity to the Montreal Courthouse, every week, a different student is responsible to do court errands for the office. These errands consist of dropping off proceedings, resolving issues with different files with the court clerks, and obtaining court documents, proceedings, and exhibits. This is an opportunity to become familiar with the Montreal Courthouse and its inner workings.

Examinations: Generally, students have the opportunity to attend examinations and then prepare a summary for the client. Just being present at the examination, you have the opportunity to see how these normally occur and you start to get a better feeling about how to proceed for the time when you are the one conducting your own examination.

Court Hearings: Normally, students have a chance to attend court hearings alongside lawyers with whom they have been working. This is an opportunity to see some of their research work being put into practice and to see the workings of the legal system.

Hopefully, this has provided you with some insight into the type of work which a student-at-law does at a Course aux stages firm, and more specifically some of the different types of work which students get to do during their summers at RSS

Matthew Meland — A Civil Law and Common Law graduate from the University of Montreal, Matthew worked one summer at RSS. 

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