Frequently Asked Questions

What are you looking for in a student or new associate?

We look for students and new hires who will carry on our tradition of hard work and excellence into the future. Smart, savvy individuals with a keen business sense and ability to focus on outcomes are a great fit for our corporate and commercial work. Our litigation teams are looking for articulate, passionate, results-oriented candidates with strong communication skills. New associates will eventually be expected to build their own practice through new clients and referrals.

Why would I want to work here?

In short, there’s no one like us in the region! We offer a wide variety of sophisticated and complex work that students and new associates can sink their teeth into, including both corporate law and litigation. (The only practice areas we don’t offer are family law, criminal law and insurance defence.) This is fantastic for those starting out, since without broad exposure it’s hard to discover what kind of law is the best fit for you. Cross-training also prepares students to take advantage of opportunities in a number of different fields, rather than only being able to find work in one area. Our students and new associates directly contribute to files, so they can follow them as they progress and see how their work is making a difference. Students are never stuck behind a desk–they’re out in the community doing important tasks that will move files forward (including, for articling students, going to court). Then there’s our reputation, the quality of our lawyers (our partners are very highly respected and some are considered tops in their field), and the fact that the firm has a stable foundation (our partners rarely leave) and is growing. There’s also something to be said for working in a community-based law practice in terms of quality of life–we offer big-city calibre files without the big city lifestyle.

I'm looking for an articling position. Will we be a good fit for each other?

So glad you asked–because fit is very important. Before the articling application deadline, you can find out more about us by looking for our table at your law school career fair. If you attend Western or Windsor, we typically sponsor the joint Windsor/Western law school tour every March, which gives students the opportunity to tour our firm and others in Hamilton. It also gives us a chance to meet prospective students early on in the recruitment process. Once the formal articling interviews are complete, our firm typically hosts a cocktail party for candidates. It usually takes place on the Wednesday night during the Hamilton interview week, and provides students with the opportunity to meet the associates and partners they didn’t meet during the formal interviewing process.

How many students do you hire?

We routinely hire one second-year law student as a summer student and two articling students each year.

What's your track record for hiring back students?

We prefer to grow by grooming our students rather than hiring from outside. We hire summer students hoping that they will continue with us the following year to complete their articles and our track record for hiring articling students as associates is excellent–of the associates working at the firm at the end of 2013, only four were external hires. If you’re looking for specific stats, from 2009 to 2013, we hired back one summer student each year to complete his or her articles with us. During the same five years we hired back at least one articling student each year as an associate. If we can’t offer a student a position, we do our best to assist him or her in finding employment elsewhere.

What's the application process for articling students?

The application and interview process for articling positions must comply with the recruitment procedures established by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Applications are usually due by early May, with interviews conducted in late May or early June. To apply, you’ll need to submit a cover letter, resume, copy of your undergrad and, if applicable, grad school transcript and law school transcript to date. Reference letters are optional. You can apply by mail, courier, email or fax to Colleen Yamashita [link goes to her bio]. You can also apply online by clicking here [link goes to the online form].

How do I apply for a summer student position?

Interviews are usually conducted in mid-February. Applications should include a cover letter, resume, copy of your undergrad and, if applicable, grad school transcript and law school transcript to date. Reference letters are optional. You can apply by mail, courier, email or fax to Colleen Yamashita [link goes to her bio]. You can also apply online here [link goes to the online form].

How do I apply for an associate position?

Applications for associate positions are accepted at any time. Include a resume, copies of your law school, undergraduate and, if applicable, grad school transcripts. Reference letters are optional. You can apply by mail, courier, email or fax to Danielle Iampietro [link goes to her bio]. You can also apply online here [link goes to the online form].

What's the salary for students like?

Our articling students receive a salary at the upper end of the pay scale for Hamilton firms. They’re entitled to two weeks paid vacation and can participate in our health and medical benefit plan after the applicable waiting period (currently three months). Students will also be paid for 14 days while they’re studying for and writing their licensing exams. The firm pays for half of the student’s tuition to the bar admission course. If the student is hired by the firm as an associate, he or she will be reimbursed for the remaining half of the tuition. Our summer students receive the same salary as our articling students, pro-rated for the length of time the student is employed.

What's involved in the corporate rotation?

During the corporate rotation (a.k.a. the solicitors’ rotation), articling students assist our real estate and corporate lawyers in a variety of commercial transactions, including share or asset acquisitions and divestitures, mergers, tax-based transactions and reorganizations, secured financing and financial services, real property purchases, sales and development, and estate work. Research and drafting memoranda is an important component of this rotation, but it’s always to directly assist the lawyers in the course of actual corporate and real estate transactions. Students also complete due diligence, review minute books and other corporate documents and reports, and draft documents and commercial agreements, including shareholder agreements, share/asset purchase agreements, employment agreements, construction agreements, and wills and estate planning documents. We also have an onsite real estate conveyancer who teaches our students the art of title searching and how to perform full searches of title for real properties. Take a look at our Day in the Life page for some specifics.

What will I be doing during my litigation rotation?

During this rotation, the articling student handles research, drafting of documents, trial preparation and other assignments related to litigation files. Our students regularly attend matters in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and various administrative tribunals to speak to consent and unopposed matters as well as scheduling appearances. We supervise our students with their own small claims court files, providing them with the opportunity to manage court actions through the various stages of litigation, often all the way to conducting their own small claims court trials. We are a very busy litigation firm with lawyers constantly on the go. This provides a perfect opportunity for students to attend various litigation proceedings such as motions, mediations, examinations for discovery, appeals and trials with our lawyers. Check out our Day in the Life page for more details.

What kind of work does a summer student do?

Our summer law students have similar responsibilities to articling students, except that summer students aren’t permitted to speak to matters in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. For this reason, summer students have fewer opportunities to appear in court. We do ensure that our students can monitor and participate as much as possible in any litigation proceedings that arise during the summer. Because there is no structured rotation in our summer program, summer students are exposed to all our practice areas as need for their assistance arises.

How is work assigned to articling students?

There is no centralized formal assignment of work. Instead, students obtain assignments directly from the lawyers they’re working with in each rotation. This requires prioritizing various assignments, which will help the student develop effective time management skills. Also, because work is assigned directly by the lawyer who needs it completed, the student is given the opportunity to work directly with that lawyer and will obtain immediate and ongoing feedback. This system also permits the students to become familiar, not only with a greater number of our lawyers and their different practice areas, but also the various practicing styles employed by our professionals.

What are the usual hours students are expected to work?

When you arrive and leave is a personal preference, within reason. Hours are usually 8 to 5 or 9 to 6 (although it’s typical to work more than this). Some students prefer to work at home after regular business hours, while others like to stay at the office and even come in on weekends. You’ll get a building access card in your first week and are free to come and go after hours as you choose.

Do I need a car?

Yes. You’ll be driving to meetings, to deliver and pick up items and attend court. A GPS can also come in handy.

Are there professional development opportunities for students?

We encourage (and pay for) our articling and summer students to attend the continuing legal education programs offered outside the firm during their articles or summer employment. The Hamilton legal community has a wonderful law association and we like our students to become involved in the many excellent programs and events organized by the association.

Is there a formal feedback process for students?

We don’t have a formal review process or a one-on-one mentor assigned to our summer or articling students–we have a system we think works even better. Because students work so closely with individual lawyers on particular files, they get immediate, direct and ongoing feedback straight from the person they’re working with. Our lawyers pride themselves on being excellent mentors for students, but each has their own personal style. Exposure to different personalities is an excellent introduction to the life of an associate. Our articling principal also meets with students on a regular basis during the articling or summer term to ensure that the student’s needs are being met.

What's the firm's culture in relation to students and new associates?

Students and new associates matter to us–that’s the bottom line. That being said, all law firms are a combination of personalities and perspectives. Each of our teams has its own style and culture, so it’s hard to make authentic statements about one overarching Scarfone Hawkins approach to students and young associates. What we can say is your enthusiasm, ideas and principles are a real asset to our firm and a number of our partners take a strong personal interest in mentoring the next generation of legal professionals. There is a real camaraderie among the associates at the firm–they’re welcoming to students and new hires and always willing to answer questions and share ideas. We also specifically choose our articling principal to be the kind of caring, supportive person whose door is always open.
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