The Legal Excellence Program


“While articling at the Department of Justice, I was given diverse and challenging work assignments that are unique to the tasks of a public lawyer in the federal civil service. For example, I assisted in the preparatory work done by the Canadian delegation to the World Conference Against Racism, litigated cases before the Public Service Staff Relations Board, and assessed policy options of proposed criminal legislation. The Justice lawyers with whom I worked took great efforts to ensure that the work that I was assigned furthered my identified interests and goals. I came away from my articling experience with a clear sense of the huge variety of work that is available to Justice lawyers, an idea of the direction that I wanted to pursue within the department, and an assurance that there were individuals there who would support and guide me throughout my decision-making process.”

- Mala Khanna, Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet – Legislation and House Planning, Privy Council Office (former articling student)

“As an articling student at the Department of Justice, I was exposed to many different areas of law including Aboriginal children’s issues and international trade law. I found my passion working for the National Security Group (NSG)—the office in charge of protecting the disclosure of information in any kind of court proceeding which could compromise Canada’s national security, national defence or international relations. I love the diversity of individuals I get to work with. The Government is comprised of so many moving pieces, it’s fascinating to discover and interact with individuals whose careers are completely different from yours, yet we are all working towards the same goal–the protection of Canadian interests and safety.”

- Joelle Fong, Counsel – National Security Group, Department of Justice Canada (former articling student)

Through this innovative program, the Department of Justice provides articling students with the opportunity to develop the essential knowledge, skills and experience for practicing law.

Students in our Legal Excellence Program draw on the experience and expertise of an assigned mentor who provides them with professional guidance and support.

Additionally, many students benefit from formal training and development component, which enhances advocacy skills, introduces them to issues facing Crown counsel and gives them an overview of the Department’s array of legal work.

The Legal Excellence Program benefits Civil Law and Common Law students, and those in the combined Civil/Common Law National Program. In addition to the unique learning and professional development opportunities the Department of Justice provides, we also pay a competitive salary which is paid during the articling term.

Camaraderie, a wide array of challenging legal work and an exciting work environment are just a few of the benefits offered by the Legal Excellence Program. You will enjoy the opportunity to work on high-profile cases and in high-pressure situations for an employer that supports your interests, your professional development and values work-life balance.

About Us

Still a relatively small government department headquartered in Ottawa, the Department of Justice works to ensure that Canada’s justice system is as fair, accessible and efficient, and is committed to promoting respect for rights and freedoms, the law and the Constitution. Providing high-quality legal services in regional offices across the country as well as in some 40 other federal departments and agencies, our lawyers are actively involved in prosecuting federal offences, litigating civil cases on behalf of the Crown, and providing direction and advice throughout the development of government bills, regulations and guidelines.

Areas of Practice

The Department of Justice provides legal and policy advice on issues relevant across the mandate of the federal government. Justice lawyers have the opportunity to be involved in virtually every aspect of the law, from the development of policy to the drafting of legislation, and from litigation to the provision of legal advice to client departments and agencies. The structure of the Department also means that different counsel in different offices, and indeed, in different cities, might work collaboratively on particular aspects of any one file, bringing their own specialized knowledge and experience to bear on the issues at hand. Practicing law in the Department of Justice means working in one or more of the following areas:

Culture & Benefits

The tradition of the Department of Justice is embodied in its culture, which values inclusiveness, fairness, excellence and respect for Canada’s legal system. Employing lawyers from all over Canada, the Department is committed to such workplace policies as employment equity, flexible work hours, job sharing and teleworking, thereby enabling employees to make choices about their working conditions and reach a proper balance between their professional and personal lives.

A career with the Department of Justice offers such benefits as practical courtroom and research experience, training and professional development, and access to extensive resources, including the Department of Justice’s national intranet site. Working in a collegial and supportive setting, our lawyers may specialize in a particular area of law or rotate through several specialties in the course of their career. The wide range of options includes criminal law, civil and tax litigation, policy development, immigration, human rights law and international law.

The Department is committed to employment equity. We encourage applications from Aboriginal People, visible minorities, women and persons with disabilities.


Remuneration within the program includes summer employment (depending on the needs of a particular region) and a salary during the articling term.

Participants are subject to the regulations and benefits governing term employees of the Government of Canada.

Application and Interview Procedure

The Legal Excellence Program has Regional Offices across Canada. You may apply to as many Regional Offices as you wish, based on your career interests and personal needs. Submit your application directly to the Regional Office(s) in which you would like to work. Please note that each Regional Office has its own application deadline.

The interview process differs from region to region. Upon applying, you will receive detailed interview procedures from each Regional Office to which you have applied.

Preference will be given to Canadian citizens. Please indicate in your application the reason for which you are entitled to work in Canada: Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or work permit.

The Department is committed to employment equity. We encourage applications from Aboriginal People, visible minorities, women and persons with disabilities.