*Please note that School of Scheff is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. School of Scheff provides legal information which is specific to the Province of Alberta. Should you reside outside the Province of Alberta, please contact a lawyer in your jurisdiction with any legal queries as the laws across the Canadian provinces vary widely.*
14 Of My Favourite Resources for Articling Students & Junior Lawyers
When I first started articling, I was hungry for anything I could get my hands on to help me feel less inept or help me be more efficient. The learning curve as an articling student and junior lawyer is extremely steep and it can feel like everything is coming at you all at once. Here are fourteen resources and tools that I have found extremely helpful (some of which I still consult often!):
CanLII Resources and Tools
1. Reading Pane
For the longest time, I had no idea that there was a reading pane option in CanLII but once I discovered it, it was an absolute game changer. When you perform a search you’ll notice some options on the right hand side. There will be “Clear Filters” “By relevance” and then three icons. The second last icon when clicked on has two options “Default” and “Reading Pane”. Select reading pane and prepare to have your life changed. You’re welcome.
Another fantastic addition to CanLII was “DarkLII” which simply allows you to enable dark mode in CanLII. This was a very welcome feature for me and has saved me a lot of eye strain since I’ve started using it. To turn it on, scroll to the very bottom of your page and click on the icon which says “DarkLII”
Did you know CanLII has some great textbooks? One of those is the eText on Wrongful Dismissal and Employment Law by Peter Neumann and Jeffrey Slack. This contains very helpful employment law fundamentals and it’s free!
There is also annotated legislation on CanLII. So far, the Annotated Alberta Human Rights Act is the only one that I’ve found but I’ve found it quite helpful when I’ve needed to consult it.
Government of Alberta Resources
This was a fantastic find when I first came across it as an articling student and it’s something I still consult often three years into practice. We learned the law in law school but what we didn’t learn was how to navigate actually applying the law – or in this case, how to actually get things registered at the Land Titles Office without getting rejected. The procedure manual outlines everything from registering caveats, restrictive covenants, titles, mortgages, leases, and much more. Essentially, anything that you may need to do at the Land Titles Office is covered by this manual.
6. Alberta Employer Employment Manuals
Did you know the Government of Alberta prepares resources for the public to help them navigate various areas of the law? One of those is for employers. Although we were trained how to read legislation in law school, sometimes you just need a simplified version or sometimes the legislation is just plain confusing. The Alberta Employment Standards Code can be difficult to decipher if you aren’t familiar with it and are just starting to work with it.
Here is the Alberta Employer Employment Manual. There are eleven modules to learn from: Overview (Module 1); Payment of earnings (Module 2); Hours of work and rest (Module 3); Overtime hours and overtime pay (Module 4); Averaging arrangements (Module 5); General holidays (Module 6); Vacations and vacation pay (Module 7); Job-protected leaves (Module 8); Termination of employment (Module 9); Youth employment (Module 10); and Complaint resolution (Module 11).
Here is also quick reference guide to the standards.
Law Society of Alberta and Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) Resources
This was a resource I had forgotten about until recently and was reacquainted with it. It is a fantastic practice management tool which teaches you all of the practice essentials. There is everything from how to assess whether you have a conflict; trust filing and accounting rules; retainers; client ID and verification procedures; coverage during absence; and much more. This is one of those great resources that you can consult as a junior to refresh yourself on things you learned in CPLED or to help solidify those concepts.
When I was an articling student, we received free access to the LESA Library during that year. My recommendation to you would be to download as many of the LESA Practice Manuals as are available to you and store them for a rainy day – even if you aren’t planning to practice in that area. For instance, I never in a million years thought I would touch family law with a ten foot pole but I currently have a divorce file. The family law practice manual has been an invaluable resource which has helped me orient myself and is something that I’m able to consult when I have questions.
Add Ons / Plug-ins for Firefox and Chrome
When I’m doing research, there’s nothing worse than leaving a bunch of tabs open and having your browser crash or alternatively, you want to pivot from what you’re doing or shut your computer down without losing all of your tabs. I have been using Tab Session Manager for Firefox and it was another big game changer for me. It will automatically save my sessions but I can also manually save them as well and then restore those sessions at any time. Session Buddy for Chrome works similarly.
This is a fantastic plug-in for Firefox. Unfortunately, it isn’t free but in my opinion it is well worth it. It is an integration that works with CanLII to provide you with clickable headings (for Most SCC cases, many FCA, ONCA, BCCA, and ABCA cases). Helps you identify the majority and dissenting judgments. Shows you when you’ve read a case previously. Optimizes the layouts of cases and more. Now that I’ve had it, I can’t live without it. Not every case is compatible with the plug-in but more and more are being added as time goes on. It is definitely worth checking out.
This is a neat plug-in which changes the appearance of text to help you read faster. It is remarkable how much faster I can read when I use it. All you have to do is install the add-on and turn it on when you wish to use it.
I practice in the area of planning and development and sometimes it is necessary to obtain old copies of Land Use Bylaws and other primary sources. This link will take you to the Alberta Law collection but there are other collections to explore. Sometimes you can get those from the municipalities but often times it is either cumbersome, will reveal a litigation tactic, or you simply don’t want to wait to receive the documents. Let me introduce you to this amazing resource. The University of Calgary has compiled a catalogue of municipal primary source material for many of the municipalities in Alberta. You don’t need to be a University of Calgary student or alumni to access. All you need to do is create a free account. File this one away for a rainy day – it may come in handy!
The Alberta Law Libraries has a list of electronic resources that you can access. Most of them require you to be on a computer at the Law Library but it’s nice to know what is available for you should you work in a firm that doesn’t have its own accounts for these resources.
Along the same lines as the Government of Alberta resources developed for the public, the CPLEA has developed some fantastic resources as well. I have consulted these to help me learn topics such as Landlord and Tenant law as well as for Wills and Estates; however, there are many, many more topics. These are easily digestible and can help solidify that 30,000 foot level understanding for you.
I hope that these are helpful and ease the climb of the learning curve. If you find these resources helpful, please pass them along to your friends and colleagues!