The Legal Excellence Program - Vancouver
Articling Opportunities Across Canada
British Columbia Regional Office (BCRO)
A career at the BC Regional Office of the Department of Justice means working alongside experienced lawyers doing groundbreaking, important work on a variety of interesting cases. Some examples include:
- Medical assistance in dying
- Aboriginal rights and title
- Civil liberties
- Major resource project environmental assessments
- Immigration and refugee litigation and enforcement
- Class actions
- International tax
- Coroners inquests and inquiries
- Issues arising from major prosecutions
About the Legal Excellence Program
The Legal Excellence Program is a unique, in-house, three-year professional and career development program. During their articling year, students work through eight- to ten-week rotations in five of the office’s legal sections:
- Aboriginal Litigation & Advisory
- Business & Regulatory (Civil) Litigation
- Criminal Law and International Assistance Group
- Public Prosecution Service of Canada
- Public Safety, Defence & Immigration
Summer students are assigned to one of the legal sections and complete work that is similar to the work carried out by the region’s articling students. The work may include appearances in courts and before tribunals.
Salary and benefits
We offer a competitive salary and numerous benefits upon entry in the public service.
Professional development forms a large component of the Legal Excellence Program. Students and junior lawyers receive training in many areas, including Federal Court and British Columbia Supreme Court practice, Crown law, negotiation, legal research, discoveries, ethics and written and oral advocacy. Students observe Drug Court, Community Court, British Columbia Supreme Court and British Columbia Court of Appeal proceedings. In addition to their principals, students are assigned mentors (Legal Excellence Program graduates) to provide professional guidance and support. All assignments are formally evaluated and feedback is provided by supervising lawyers.
The Application Process
The Justice Canada British Columbia Regional Office hired ten articling students for 2022-2023 and six summer students for 2022.
The application deadlines are determined by the Vancouver Bar Association.
Articling Students 2023-2024
- Application deadline: June 30, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST
- Interview call date: July 15, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. PST
- Interview week: August 15-17, 2022
- Offer call date: August 18, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. PST
Offers are held open for 24 hours.
Summer Students 2023
- Application deadline: August 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST
- Interview call date: October 6, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. PST
- Interview week: October 24-26, 2022
- Offer call date: October 27, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. PST
Offers are held open for 24 hours.
[ * ] For summer students participating in the On-Campus Interview (OCI) process, application deadlines may be earlier than posted above. Contact your Career Services Office for OCI deadlines.
The Justice Canada British Columbia Regional Office is looking for students in their second year of law school with solid academic records, an interest and aptitude for litigation and who are motivated by a career in public law. The government of Canada is committed to employment equity and a workforce representative of the Canadian people. We encourage applications from Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities, and we encourage applicants to self-identify as members of these designated groups.
- Please click on the following link for the Statement of Merit for summer student positions
- Please click on the following link for the Statement of Merit for articling student positions
Condition of Employment:
Reliability or Secret security clearance.
How to Apply
Preference will be given to veterans first and then to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Preference for articling student positions will be given to students who have not yet articled in British Columbia.
Your application package must include the following: a cover letter, resume, undergraduate transcript, law school transcript and list of complete contact information for at least three references we can interview.
All applications must be submitted to the attention of Gloria Chao, through the ViRecruit portal at:
Please direct all enquiries to:
British Columbia Regional Office Areas of Legal Practice
The British Columbia Regional Office has approximately 450 employees. Our office is committed to providing lawyers and staff with the best learning experience possible through our in-house training program. We offer a wide variety of training opportunities designed to develop excellence in legal knowledge, technical and personal skills. In addition, students obtain practical, hands-on experience as they work in our office’s practice areas including the following:
Aboriginal Law Services (ALS)
The Aboriginal Law Section provides legal resolution, advisory and litigation services to Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).
The advisory practice in ALS combines traditional areas of property and commercial law, contract, torts, environmental law, estates law, constitutional law, employment law, and information and privacy law with the dynamic and ever-evolving area of Aboriginal law. The challenge for legal counsel is to ensure AANDC fulfills its legal obligations to First Nations in British Columbia by recognizing and respecting First Nations’ desires to become more self-sufficient and self-governing while balancing the public interest.
Advisory lawyers have broad expertise in facilitating such things as on-reserve economic developments for shopping mall complexes, wineries, golf courses, casinos, eco-tourism, resort destinations, wind farms and more.
Counsel in this section also work on complex and highly significant litigation files involving constitutional law, Aboriginal law, administrative law, property law, public law, commercial law and dispute resolution processes. ALS work frequently involves novel questions of law, such as Aboriginal rights and title and sensitive issues that involve multiple government departments.
Justice Canada’s British Columbia Regional office has been involved in precedent setting Aboriginal litigation, such as Delgamuukw, Guerin, Sparrow, Van der Peet, Haida/Taku River, Blackwater, E.B., McIvor, and other high-profile Aboriginal rights and title cases, such as Tsilhqot’in and Haida, and Lax Kw’alaams and Ahousaht.
In addition, ALS lawyers work on cases affecting modern and historic treaties, the reserve creation process, the Crown’s fiduciary obligations, the Crown’s duty to consult, federal/provincial division of powers, taxation exemptions, administrative, fisheries, immigration, constitutional law issues and specialized dispute resolution processes to resolve outstanding Indian residential schools claims.
Students in the ALS section may have the opportunity to:
- prepare legal memoranda on complex legal issues
- attend court hearings and settlement meetings
- draft motion materials, including affidavits
- draft pleadings (e.g., Notice of Civil Claim, Response to Civil Claim, Reply, Counterclaim, as applicable)
- attend/observe an examination for discovery (including client preparation, review of documents, and summarizing of transcripts, as applicable)
- attend meetings/negotiations and liaise with clients, outside counsel, First Nations, municipal and provincial representatives
- attend hearings and mediations
- work with solicitors on land transaction files (i.e. acquisition of fee simple lands and land use instruments)
Business & Regulatory Law (B&R)
The Business and Regulatory Law section is comprised of civil litigation and advisory lawyers who are dedicated to a broad spectrum of government legal affairs.
Much of the advisory work is devoted to Fisheries and Oceans, National Defense, Parks Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Transport Canada, and Western Economic Diversification, among others. The scope of work is broad and challenging. Solicitors in the section have worked on:
- Aboriginal consultations
- Aboriginal fishing rights
- fisheries and aquaculture management
- litigation support (civil and criminal (regulatory) matters)
- Species At Risk Act issues
- airport, harbour and port divestitures
- economic diversification projects such as the Prince Rupert Port Authority
- national park acquisitions such as the Gulf Islands
- public-private partnerships
The Business and Regulatory Law section also offers the opportunity to develop experience litigating significant and high-profile legal and policy issues on behalf of a variety of federal government departments. Some of the section’s high profile litigation cases include:
- Carter v. AGC (physician-assisted suicide)
- same-sex marriage
- Henry v. AGC (Elections Act challenge)
- legal aid challenge
- Hepatitis C/tainted blood class action
The litigation teams also deliver legal services to government departments whose mandates have a strong regulatory, public safety or business law component – such as Agriculture Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Health Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Industry Canada, Parks Canada Agency, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Transport Canada and Veterans Affairs. These legal services span a broad spectrum of legal practice areas:
- administrative law
- admiralty and maritime law, e.g. pollution issues, maritime safety
- agriculture, animals and contagious diseases
- bankruptcy and insolvency
- commercial law
- constitutional law, including Charter claims
- intellectual property
- labour and employment law
- employment and labour law
- environmental law
- health and food safety
- human rights
- tort law
Students have the opportunity to work with more senior counsel to assist in a variety of litigation tasks including: drafting pleadings and other court documents, drafting affidavits, preparing damage assessments, conducting legal research and drafting memoranda. Students may also work on a variety of advisory tasks such as statutory interpretation, drafting agreements and leases and drafting land title documents.
Criminal Law and International Assistance (CLIA)
The Criminal Law and International Assistance group is responsible for all international extradition requests and mutual legal assistance requests in British Columbia. These requests flow from Canada’s international obligations pursuant to numerous bi-lateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties. The treaty requests are executed pursuant to the Extradition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. In addition to handling actions under these statutes, CLIA works on other Department of Justice Canada files that involve criminal law or Charter issues.
CLIA is a small section involved in many complex and high-profile media cases, such as the United States of America v. Burns and Rafay and the United States of America v. Emery. CLIA counsel practice in the British Columbia Supreme Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal.
During their CLIA rotation, students are given access to as many different matters as possible. Students work on the preparation of mutual legal assistance requests, draft submissions for extradition hearings, conduct legal research and assist counsel on cases before the courts.
Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC)
While the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is a separate government department from Justice Canada, the PPSC is an integral part of the Legal Excellence Program. The PPSC is responsible for all prosecutions in British Columbia that arise out of federal statutes (with the exception of the Criminal Code). While a significant amount of PPSC work relates to drug offences, the PPSC also prosecutes a broad range of regulatory offences on behalf of federal departments such as Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canada Revenue Agency. Counsel may work as part of specialized practice groups, including:
- organized crime prosecutions
- Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver
- regulatory, environmental and economic crimes
- integrated proceeds of crime unit
- appeals group
PPSC counsel have litigated many high-profile Supreme Court of Canada decisions relating to Charter, organized crime and search and seizure issues. Examples include R. v. Caine and Malmo-Levine case (constitutionality of Parliament’s prohibition on marijuana possession) and R. v. Sharpe (constitutionality of the child pornography provisions of the Criminal Code).
During their PPSC rotation, students work on a variety of criminal matters, with extensive courtroom responsibilities including assisting in remand court, conducting summary conviction trials and sentencing and bail hearings in the British Columbia Provincial Court. Students may also assist counsel on cases in British Columbia Supreme Court.
Public Safety, Defense & Immigration (PSDI)
The Public Safety, Defense & Immigration law section focuses on administrative, constitutional and human rights law in Canada. The section and its lawyers are often at the leading edge of some of the most intellectually stimulating and challenging legal issues of the day, including terrorism, national security, privacy, civil liberties, refugee matters, war crimes and international human rights law.
Lawyers in this section provide litigation and advisory services on policing, corrections, parole, national defense, firearms, customs, immigration and citizenship matters to several federal departments and agencies, including:
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Correctional Service of Canada
- National Parole Board
- Department of Citizenship and Immigration
- Canada Border Services Agency
- Department of National Defense
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service
- Department of Public Safety and Canada Firearms Centre
PSDI lawyers frequently appear in the British Columbia Supreme Court and the Federal Court. The lawyers also have conduct of challenging cases at the appellate level, including cases in the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
PSDI students will be able to develop their litigation skills by drafting submissions and participating in legal teams with lawyers on cases at all levels of court. Students will prepare for and attend examinations for discoveries, mediations and court hearings with counsel. Students may also observe hearings before various administrative tribunals.
Tax Law Services (TLS)
The Tax Law Services section provides Canada Revenue Agency with a complete range of litigation services and selected advisory and policy development services. Recent significant high-profile matters include international taxation (Antle), tax avoidance (McKay) and class actions (Smith).
Our regional TLS lawyers represent the Minister of National Revenue in all proceedings. They defend assessment appeals raised by Canada Revenue Agency auditors, handle employment insurance cases, such as investigations into farm worker employment insurance fraud, and represent the Minister in priority disputes, bankruptcy, collections enforcement and civil matters.
The legal work TLS lawyers carry out is multidisciplinary and involves law from corporate commercial, Aboriginal, wills and estates and family law. The facts and issues TLS lawyers deal with often give an interesting glimpse into the business world and present an opportunity to learn about a variety of industries, including forestry, mining, technology, farming, real estate development, manufacturing and securities. Some matters also involve cross-border transactions and the interpretation of international tax treaties.
Students in the TLS section actively participate in the section by:
- preparing and presenting cases in the Tax Court of Canada
- preparing and offering opinions on income tax, employment insurance, GST, Canada Pension Plan and a wide variety of procedural matters
- attending and participating in section meetings and national conference calls
- assisting in the preparation of pleadings, motions and factums before all levels of provincial and federal courts
- working closely with counsel in preparing for and attending examinations for discovery, meetings with Canada Revenue Agency officials, settlement conferences and hearings
- preparing security documents such as mortgages, guarantees and letters of credit
- providing opinions on a wide variety of debtor creditor and insolvency issue
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