LESA Welcomes our 2016 Summer Students!

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May 302016

LESA is pleased to welcome this year’s summer students – Angela Beierbach and Katie Moore!

Angela and Katie have settled in nicely into their roles here at LESA, working with Counsel, Christine Sanderman and Kelsey Dick – who was a LESA summer student before becoming our Staff Lawyer.

We recently interviewed these young professionals to find out what they are up to this summer.

Happy Reading!

Angela Beierbach

We chatted with Angela to get to know her a bit more and to see how she was settling in. Here’s what she had to say!

How did you become interested in law?

I always had an interest in going into law school … I majored in psychology and minored in sociology [at the University of Alberta] … [and] I have a lot of research experience in a social psychology. … [I was working] towards clinical psychology, but decided that wasn’t for me and I revisited the idea of law. It’s ever-evolving and there are countless opportunities to learn. It’s a really flexible profession, and there are a lot of different practice areas you can dabble in. Plus, you have the opportunity to work with and help people.”

Has your experience here so far pulled you in a specific direction?

I’m pretty much happy to be learning about all areas at this point. I didn’t know that I’d be interested in business law but after taking a few classes and working on the [CPLED] fundamentals, [with LESA’s Legal team] I feel like I kind of have a knack for it!”

What do you enjoy about working with LESA?

It’s a really friendly office. Everyone is so helpful and approachable and it’s a really good opportunity to learn about a whole bunch of different areas of law.”

What fun things do you have planned for the summer?

Maybe do a bike trip at the end of the summer … I love biking in the Edmonton river valley.”

Katie Moore

Talking with Katie was a blast! She is enthusiastic and passionate about law and is excited to be a part of the LESA team. Here’s what Katie had to say!

How did you get to be where you are today?

When I graduated high school I didn’t really know where I wanted to go. … I loved reading, I loved writing, and I loved editing. Those were my favorite things. … I did my arts degree with English as my major and psychology as my minor, and it was more towards the end of my degree that I started leaning more towards law. I realized what I really loved was the deep analysis. … In law, you’re going through legislation and doing a deep analysis and figuring out what it means. … I kind of feel like the decision came around a little more organically. … Then I applied to law school … wrote my LSAT … and then I went to University of Calgary law.”

What projects do you have on the go with us right now?

Currently, our main project and the one that I’m working on the most is we’re going through the CPLED fundamentals materials [with LESA’s Legal team]. … I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s really interesting. I’m working on criminal right now and … it’s fascinating to go through. … [There is] a lot … I have learned, but a lot of it is stuff I have not yet learned … so it’s kind of a little bit of a preview of what I’m going to be seeing – especially with criminal. I find it is a bit more visceral than other areas of law.”

What do you enjoy most about working with LESA so far?

I enjoy the freedom that I get … I kind of get to explore different areas and … get to direct that in a sense. Everyone here has been really supportive of the work that I’ve been doing and encouraging me to if you’re interested in this, pursue it a little bit more; if you’re interested in that subject, keep going with it. …It’s kind of like a run with it kind of idea. Not just finish these tasks in order.”

Will you be crossing anything off of your bucket list this summer?

I am actually! I’m going to Shakespeare in the Park this summer, which has been a dream of mine since being in Edmonton.”

2016 Summer Student Positions Available

 Law Students, LESA Update, News  Comments Off on 2016 Summer Student Positions Available
Feb 252016

Alberta Top 70 Employers 2016

Have you heard? LESA is now hiring 2016 summer students. If you’re a current law student who has completed at least 1 year of law school, this is a great chance for you to join our innovative, dynamic organization and make a meaningful contribution to the legal community as part of our LESA team.

Benefits & Expectations

You’ll gain experience and knowledge in key areas of law as well as hone your research and writing skills while working with LESA’s Legal team to research, write, review, and update LESA’s print publications and online resources. You may also have the opportunity to contribute here – on LESA’s blog.

As one of Alberta’s Top 70 Employers in 2016, LESA is a great place to work. One of our past summer students – Kelsey Dick – even came full circle, joining LESA’s Legal team this past fall. Here’s what she had to say about the value of working as a LESA summer student.

What did you enjoy about being a LESA summer student?

It allows you to stay involved in legal work during the summer and keep up-to-date on changes in the law, in an office atmosphere that is relaxed and friendly. Plus, LESA’s staff are wonderful to work with and always willing to help.”

What did you get to learn while working at LESA that you may not have learned elsewhere?

While summer students don’t have access to the CPLED Program materials, you do have the opportunity to work alongside the people involved with the program, so you can gain a better understanding of what CPLED is, how it works, and what LESA does. I think this is really beneficial as a student before starting the bar admission program, as it makes the CPLED Program a little less intimidating when you start articling.”

How did working at LESA as a summer student help shape your future career trajectory and opportunities?

It allows you to see the different opportunities available in the legal field, outside of the traditional firm career path. One of the real benefits of choosing a legal career is that it opens up a lot of doors to different employment opportunities. After I finished my law degree, I articled and worked at a large Edmonton law firm for a few years. I was interested in making a change around the same time LESA was looking for another lawyer to join their staff, and … I am now a Staff Lawyer at LESA.”

If you want to hear more about what it will be like working as a 2016 summer student, you can also check out what last year’s law students enjoyed about spending a summer with us.

Apply Now

View the job posting for complete details about the 2016 summer student position. If you’re interested in joining the LESA team, apply by March 21 to Daniel García at daniel.garcia@lesa.org.

Practice Profile – Duty Counsel with Cyndy Barber

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Sep 092015

Cyndy Barber - ImageThis year LESA’s summer students (Kristine Gu and myself – Allison Boutillier) are interviewing practitioners to gain insight into the broad range of careers that a legal education can lead to. For the third interview, we sat down with Cyndy Barber to learn more about her role as Family Court Duty Counsel.

We asked Cyndy to tell us a little about her position, and she explained that duty counsel are lawyers, typically employed by Legal Aid Alberta, who appear in courts of first appearance to provide assistance to unrepresented parties. According to Cyndy, it is very important to ensure that things are done right at these initial stages:

Docket or chambers is often where people get their most significant – indeed their only – court ordered relief. People get child and spousal support orders, they get parenting orders, they get home possession orders, restraining orders. In theory, these are interim and can be changed at trial, but the reality is that very few matters get to trial, … so these orders are profoundly important – first because they are, in practical terms, final, and second because they are about basic necessities of money, safety, homes, and parenting.”

For the most part, duty counsel deal with these matters on a preliminary basis, moving them to a trial or another type of setting for resolution. Given the right circumstances, however, it is can be possible to completely resolve the matter at hand:

It sort of depends on the file. It depends on the people. It depends on the duty counsel, probably, and the time we have, because sometimes we are completely swamped [so] that we don’t have a lot of time to start negotiating terms of parenting orders, for example.”

Regardless of the task at hand, however, the matters that duty counsel deals with move quickly and, according to Cyndy, that makes knowing the law one of the most important parts of the job:

I think you have to know the law and you have to have some experience in court. I did a lot, a lot of court work before I got to this job. I was in Chambers often, and I think that gives you an edge. It allows you to just get into it a little quicker.”

When asked about her previous experience, Cyndy explained that she cut her teeth working in private practice. She articled exclusively in family law and spent a total of 14 years working in the area before taking a position at Legal Aid Alberta, providing telephone legal advice. After a time, Legal Aid Alberta amalgamated its services, and Cyndy’s role changed to include working part-time as duty counsel. Now she acts as duty counsel at Provincial Docket Court on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and, otherwise, is at the Legal Aid Alberta office providing in-person and telephone advice and brief services.

If there is one thing that Cyndy misses about private practice, it is really getting into the litigation and seeing a file through from beginning to end. Occasionally, while working as duty counsel, she will have a client come back to see her multiple times over the course of a matter. For the most part, however, she is only involved in preliminary issues while the matter is at docket: “we’re there to assist and to speak on their behalf, but we don’t represent them in the true term of representation.”

Even though she sometimes misses carrying a file, Cyndy would not give up her job to go back to private practice. She told us that, above all else, she enjoys spending time with her family, and, although she works hard, her position at Legal Aid Alberta does not require her to take work home on the weekends or to work the long hours that are sometimes required in private practice.

Over and above the work-life balance, working as duty counsel also has the benefit of being a very rewarding occupation.

I love my job. It’s great. I deal with a lot of great people. I work with a lot of great people, and I love how our system works. It works very well. It is very, very supportive for people who do not have counsel.”

Allison Boutillier
LESA Summer Student

Reflections from our 2015 Law Summer Students

 CPLED, Law Students, LESA Update, News  Comments Off on Reflections from our 2015 Law Summer Students
Sep 022015

Over the past few months we’ve had two incredible law summer students working here at LESA! Allison Boutillier and Kristine Gu joined us back at the beginning of May, and we wanted to share what they learned while working at LESA and why they enjoyed spending the summer here.

What did you do here at LESA this summer and what did you most enjoy about your job?

Kristine and Allison both emphasized the researching, writing, and editing experience they gained – especially while working on the new wills & estates practice manuals that LESA is preparing. They also helped work on some of LESA’s online courses and the new LESA Library, in addition to writing several blogs. Want to see some of their work? Read their practice profile blogs with Marla Miller QC and Donna Tingley.

The rest of the LESA staff also had the opportunity to benefit from their knowledge during two LESA coffee talks: Allison spoke about intestacy and Kristine discussed copyright issues. Both of these presentations were interesting, informative, and greatly appreciated by the LESA staff!

I really enjoyed making that PowerPoint presentation [for the LESA coffee talk on intestacy]. I expanded into features of PowerPoint that I have never used before, [and it] is surprisingly fun to make everything on the screen move. Using the polling technology [the audience response units we use at LESA seminars] was really interesting to me. … [My presentation] was really based around user interaction and having the constant audience feedback – that was the driving force. … The talk was a bit of an opportunity to explore, especially in an area where we’ve worked … all summer, and then I could take it and do what I wanted to do with it.” Allison

The blog was one of the most interesting parts, especially the practice profile series … because it was interactive and it was interesting for us too – we got to talk to the lawyers in the community. …I also really enjoyed the [LESA Library]. It was something different – it wasn’t something you would really do in a law office. It was interesting browsing all the content, because it gave me a little bit of insight about what the website will look like. It was interesting watching the transition between [hardcopy] manuals and wiki, especially trying to match up the chapters. I think it’s good to be part of … LESA growing in the online world – to be able to be a part of that change. … I like how LESA’s moving that way, with the blog and Twitter and Facebook. It’s very rare to see organizations actually integrate so many platforms in the right way. I think a lot of organizations kind of separate their social media and aren’t able to align it, so for your blog you have Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all together – so that’s good. I enjoy technology stuff.” Kristine

What is one thing you learned about LESA that you think other people
should know?

The CPLED Program (pre-call training for Alberta lawyers) comprises a large part of what LESA does. Neither Kristine nor Allison worked on any CPLED materials while doing their editing, researching, and writing this summer, but CPLED will be a part of their not-so-distant future, so it’s not surprising that they were interested in how the program works and in the faces behind it – those people who keep the CPLED Program running smoothly.

For both of them, one of the biggest things they learned was how much support LESA offers to CPLED students.

LESA’s not out to get people. … Everyone is so supportive. They take each student very seriously, and it’s not as if a student is just a number … If there’s an issue, they’ll try to work with you.” Kristine

I don’t know if you guys appreciate how much it’s sort of like looking behind the curtain. … [Those] students who are trying to get through CPLED don’t get to see that you call Ashley, who is so kind and will actually care. That’s what people should know – the person who does a great deal of the work on CPLED is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet, and I think that would help students to know that they can call Ashley.” Allison

Kristine was also impressed by the work that LESA is doing to reach out to students who are still in law school. “Another thing I learned about LESA … [is that they’re] really trying to interact with students … [by] increasing their presence with more student-oriented blogs and things like that.”

Thinking down the road to your future as a lawyer, how do you think that working at LESA helped build the skills that you will need to do that job well?

I think at LESA we were lucky because we were able to do some legal research related things – things that a law student would have done at a law firm. But like I said at the beginning of the summer – and I think it showed itself through the people – we were able to develop those skills in a very friendly and welcoming environment. Karen was very supportive. … We did some things that we weren’t sure if we were qualified to do, and I think that was a really big learning experience filling that gap by myself. But then Karen was very supportive. She never made us feel bad about what we weren’t doing properly. She walked us through it. In terms of skills, I think it gave me the confidence to take some risks. In terms of researching things I wasn’t familiar with – I’ve never taken a wills and estates class before – I walked in I was like, “Oh man, I’m not sure if I’m able to do this.” But I came to realize that you can start from nothing and work from there. School isn’t the only place you can learn. So being resourceful [is important]: being able to walk away with something and work on in it for a bit – even if you’re not right, just putting the effort in and learning about it – and then being able to confidently ask for feedback.” Kristine

We did a lot of work on the practice manuals, … and it was an opportunity to go through some of the materials that are more practical. What we do in class is comparatively theoretical, and here we’re going through a manual that’s targeted at lawyers for development purposes that focuses on which form to fill out and things that aren’t going to get covered in a theoretical course. So personally, and very selfishly, I’ve had the opportunity to just learn things, because going through and editing the manuals means reading them. Or … looking through some of the manuals to see what would work well as an online course meant I literally sat down and read some of the binders. … So I just got to sit there and read it and learn things that are very practical. I think that exposure helps a lot. I have a little toe in the door of all the things that we’re going to see right away outside of law school but that we’re not getting as much exposure to in law school.” Allison

We’re so glad that Kristine and Allison learned a lot from working here at LESA, and we’re grateful for all the help they gave us this summer. We hope they’ll be able to share more of their insights with all us during this upcoming year as guest bloggers, so stay tuned to hear more from them throughout the year. If you want, you can even follow the blog by entering your email at the top, right hand side of this page – that way you’ll be sure to see their blogs when they are posted.

Alberta Law Review – Student Editorial Board Positions

 Law Students, Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Alberta Law Review – Student Editorial Board Positions
Sep 012015

Alberta Law Review Books.

And just like that a new school year is upon us. From all of us here at LESA, we hope that all of you Alberta law students enjoyed a relaxing summer, and we wish you the best of luck in the upcoming year.

With the start of the new school year also comes the quickly approaching Alberta Law Review deadline for second year students to join the student Editorial Board (September 9th at noon!). If you’re still considering applying or are working on your application, today’s LESA blog is for you.

Today we’re sharing what one of the Co-Editors-in-Chief, Michael Swanberg, has to say about Alberta Law Review: why working for the journal is an incredible experience, the type of work involved, and what you have to do to apply. Please note that, while Michael shares some great insights relevant for anyone wanting to work on the journal, some of these things apply specifically to students at the University of Alberta.

Happy reading!

ALR LogoThe Alberta Law Review (ALR) is once again looking to fill positions on its student Editorial Board in both Edmonton and Calgary. In an effort to increase interest amongst law students, the Co-Editors-in-Chief have modified the application process to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete the application. For those second year students at the University of Alberta who are interested in applying to the ALR, here is some information about the application process and what you can expect as a member of the Editorial Board.

What is the Alberta Law Review?

The ALR is a peer-reviewed legal journal run by law students from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. The journal publishes four issues per year and has a circulation of over 2500.  The journal is planning on making a transition to a fully online open-access format by 2016/17, which is intended to give the practicing bar and the public enhanced access to the journal’s scholarship.

In a 2011 study of law school-run legal journals in Canada, the ALR was ranked among the top five legal journals in the country in each metric used (Neil Craik, Philip Bryden & Katie Ireton, “Law Review: Scholarship and Pedagogy in Canadian Law Journals” (2011) 36:2 Queen’s LJ 393). Scholarship published in the ALR is cited frequently by Canadian courts and in other academic journals in Canada and abroad.

Past members of the Editorial Board have gone on to distinguished careers in private practice, the judiciary, and academia. These include Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, former Supreme Court Justice William A. Stevenson, the Honourable J.E.L Côté (of the Alberta Court of Appeal), Justice Peter Costigan (of the Alberta Court of Appeal), and Prof. J.A. Weir, to name a few.

What is it like being a member of the student Editorial Board?

Students who are selected for a position on the Editorial Board at the University of Alberta are required to make a two-year commitment to the journal (2L and 3L). The Co-Editors-in-Chief assign each student to a committee that is given a set of tasks to complete each year. Committee tasks include (but are not limited to) vetting all article submissions and overseeing the peer review process, planning and running the annual Banquet, soliciting donations, preparing funding applications, running the annual Morrow Essay Contest, and planning recruitment activities for next year’s Editorial Board. The type of work that each committee is assigned varies considerably, but the work itself is a great way to meet and work with your other ALR colleagues. While the workload for each committee varies somewhat over the course of the academic year, committee work will, on average, entail about one hour of work per week.

All members of the Editorial Board are also required to complete a minimum of two student edits before they graduate. Each article that is accepted for publication (after passing peer review) is first edited by a member of the Editorial Board and is then edited a second and third time by the two Co-Editors-in-Chief before it is considered to be ready for publication. Generally, the student edit requires the Board Member to do a “light” edit on the text itself to correct all spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors and to do a more substantive edit on the citations to ensure full compliance with the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (otherwise known as the McGill Guide, 8th edition). All editors are given an Editorial Policy Manual and Checklist to help guide the student through the editing process. The most important (and time consuming) aspect of the student edit is fact checking each citation. This entails finding the original source for each citation to make sure that all of the information contained in the citation is accurate and to ensure that all quotations appear exactly the same in the source that is being quoted.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! But have no fear – students have a lot of flexibility in choosing when to take on an edit, so you will not be forced to do an edit when it is not feasible to do so. Furthermore, there are many benefits to going through the full editorial process. Doing a student edit helps develop useful legal research skills that will serve you well in your future career. Student edits are the best way to become intimately familiar with the finer intricacies of the McGill Guide and to develop useful research skills that will make finding obscure sources much easier in other contexts.  It also helps develop your own writing abilities as you focus on proper grammar and spelling. In addition, you learn a lot about new trends in Canadian law, which may come in handy in other courses and in your future career.

Are there other benefits to being a member of the Alberta Law Review Editorial Board?

Being a member of the ALR does come with some residual benefits! First and foremost, the ALR is a great addition to any law student’s CV, and all members of the Editorial Board receive an invitation to apply to the Alberta Courts clerkship program in 2L. Historically, members of the Editorial Board have had great track records in obtaining clerkships both in Edmonton and Calgary.

University of Alberta students are also eligible to receive course credit in 3L for work completed with the ALR. To receive the course credit, students must complete the two required edits and a minimum of 104 hours of service to the journal. If a student completes these requirements before the term that they take the credit in, then that effectively means the student only has to take four courses in that term (since the course credit is pass/fail).

Another tangible benefit that should not be discounted is access to the ALR office in the John A. Weir Memorial Law Library. The ALR has recently furnished the office with new furniture and computer equipment, making this space particularly comfortable during “crunch time” each semester when everyone is feverishly working on completing term papers and studying for exams. All Editorial Board Members have full access to the office and are free to use it to work on course work.

How do I apply?

Applications are currently open for all 2L students. There are many Board positions available, so everyone is encouraged to apply! The packages were sent out via email to all incoming 2L students at the beginning of June and are due back by 12:00 noon on Wednesday, September 9. This year’s application process is much less time consuming than that of previous years. Applicants are no longer required to write a case comment, and the length and difficulty of the “test edit” has been reduced. Also, the two reference letters are now optional instead of required. A complete application package consists of a cover letter, CV, law school transcripts showing final 1L grades, a completed test edit, and a committee ranking sheet showing the applicant’s preference for which committees they would prefer to serve on.

If you have any questions about the application process or the ALR in general, feel free to contact the Co-Editors-in-Chief (Michael Swanberg and Sophie Trageser) at info@albertalawreview.com.

Michael Swanberg
ALR Co-Editor-in-Chief

LESA Welcomes our 2015 Summer Students!

 Law Students, LESA Update, Staff Feature  Comments Off on LESA Welcomes our 2015 Summer Students!
May 082015

LESA is excited to welcome two new summer students into our organization – Kristine Gu and Allison Boutillier!

It’s their first week here, and they’ve jumped right into things, working with LESA’s Karen McDougall to edit the updated Wills & Estates practice manual that we’re putting together.

Before they get too caught up in fixing comma splices and finding citations, we took a few minutes to get to know them better.

Kristine started off her undergrad in the sciences, but, after O Chem labs revealed that wasn’t the life for her, she transferred into the U of A’s School of Business. Kristine credits Douglas Peterson, her BLaw professor, for pointing her onto the path towards a law degree.

The way he presented Business Law to me really changed my perspective. I found I really enjoyed it, so I finally settled on majoring in Business Law. That took me to here. … My interest is in the corporate, commercial kind of side, and hopefully international. That would be the ideal.

After completing her Masters of Philosophy in Belgium, Allison returned to Edmonton unsure of what she wanted to do. She was working at a restaurant, feeling bored and directionless, when a friend encouraged her to write the LSAT. As Allison puts it, “I thought, ‘It can’t be worse than serving.’” Then one thing led to another, and now she’s finished her second year of law at the University of Alberta. While she’s not sure what area of law she’d like to practice in, she’s discovered that “I think I would be a terrible solicitor; I’m much more interested in litigation.

Both Kristine and Allison are looking forward to working at LESA this summer. For Kristine, LESA offers a unique experience, something different than the more typical summer job working in a law firm.

It gives me a chance to still dabble in a lot of things; I’m learning about things I really wouldn’t have even considered before … like wills & estates. … It’s [also] a safe environment to first build your confidence and hone your skills.”

Allison is also looking forward to the chance to learn new things in a low stress environment.

No one’s file is on the line. We get a chance to sit and think through things as we look for the comma placement.

While we’re looking forward to having these two multi-lingual ladies in the office (together they speak Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Korean, and Japanese!), they also have exciting plans for the summer. Allison started playing soccer when she was 5 and is looking forward to catching some FIFA Women’s World Cup games; Kristine loves photography and can’t wait to travel to Hong Kong in August, before starting an exchange term there in September.

But until then, we’re glad they’ve both joined the LESA team!

Summer Students Wanted

 Law Students, LESA Update  Comments Off on Summer Students Wanted
Feb 142014

Become part of an innovative and dynamic organization,Legal Education of Alberta Logo and help us make a meaningful contribution to the legal profession.

The Legal Education Society of Alberta’s (LESA) mission is to serve the spectrum of educational and professional development needs of Alberta’s lawyers, articling students, and their staff. Summer students working with LESA will gain experience and knowledge in the key areas of law practice. They will hone the research and writing skills that are critical to the success of students in their legal career.

Summer students are expected to:

  • Assist in updating educational resources for use by articling students, lawyers, and their staff. Research may be required to update existing legal content for both print publications as well as online resources.

Specific tasks may include:

  • Reviewing and editing publication submissions;
  • Researching and noting up case and statutory law for publications including practice manuals and foundational materials;
  • Writing blog posts on recent legal developments;
  • Assisting in the development of online courses; and
  • Working to develop the online library (wiki).


The position requires a student who has completed at least 1 year of law school. A good grasp of current technology would be an asset.

There are two positions available in Edmonton.

To Apply:

Fax: Attention: Dan García 780.425.0885, Email: daniel.garcia@lesa.org
Competition Closes: March 21, 2014