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Amici Curiae: New Licensing Method, Bay St. Hiring Numbers, and Mega-Mergers

LSUC Approves New Licensing Opportunity

On November 22, the Law Society of Upper Canada, which governs the legal profession in Ontario (including the licensing of lawyers), approved a three-year pilot project that will allow candidates to complete an outsourced “Law Practice Program” (LPP) instead of the traditional 10-month articling program.

The future of the articling program was debated for months, with strong views at both ends of the spectrum. One of the major concerns moving forward is that this new model will create a two-tiered system divided by students who are able to secure increasingly-coveted articling positions, and students relegated to the LPP by default. The program is set to launch in the 2014-2015 licensing year, and will be funded by an increase in member contributions.

Bay St. Summer Hiring Down 10%

As of November 25, Precedent Magazine has finalized its Bay St. second-year summer student hiring chart, collecting data from 17 large firms operating offices in Toronto. Of the firms polled, there was a total of 283 students hired, a 10.4% reduction from the previous year, which had 316 hires. Borden Ladner Gervais had the most significant reduction in hiring, with 33.3% less hires than the previous year (although it intends on hiring first-year summer students in February). Goodmans had the greatest increase in hiring, expanding its class size by 21.4%, bringing it just above its 2010 numbers. Heenan Blaikie and McMillan both retained their numbers from the previous year, while Stikeman Eliott and Torys hovered around a 5% +/- change, amounting to one more or less hire each. Based on available data, peak hiring occurred in 2008 with 340 students.

Mega-Mergers

Two high profile international law firm mergers were announced in the span of 10 days in early November, potentially changing the landscape of the Canadian legal market. Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC), which traces its history back to 1834, currently with over 500 lawyers in Canada, has agreed to merge with SNR Denton (London- and Washington D.C.-based) and Salans (Paris-based), creating a new legal juggernaut with 79 offices worldwide and 2500 lawyers. The new firm, if approved by partners at the end of the month, will be renamed Dentons.

Norton Rose, a relatively new player in the Canadian market (having merged with Ogilvy Renault and then Macleod Dixon), announced a merger with Texas-based Fulbright & Jaworski to be effective June 1, 2013. The Norton Rose Group, which is the business name for Norton Rose entities around the world operating as a verein (legal association), traces its history back to 1794. Post-merger, it will be known as Norton Rose Fulbright, with 3800 lawyers in 55 offices worldwide, and will have a very strong grip on both the energy and mining sectors.

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