UAlberta Law students travel to St. Paul for day of job shadowing

"Justice Bus" pilot project saw students explore career options outside of Edmonton

Priscilla Popp - 13 September 2017

The morning of August 29 marked the start of a very memorable day for four UAlberta Law students, thanks to a new experiential learning opportunity that took them outside of the classroom, and even away out of the city.

The Job Shadowing Rural Alberta Justice Bus, a new pilot project organized by the Alberta Rural Development Network's (ARDN) Alberta Rural Law Opportunities (ARLO), and sponsored in part by the Faculty of Law, saw students board a minivan on route to St. Paul, Alberta, where they were given the chance to shadow lawyers and office staff in a small town setting.

"The Justice Bus is an exciting new learning initiative for law students with a long-term interest in practicing law in smaller communities. The Faculty is optimistic that initiatives like this will influence and inform students' perspectives on the law, ultimately guiding them towards rewarding legal careers," said John MacDonald, UAlberta Law's Director of Career Services.

Students were dropped off at pre-assigned law firms, including the Trevor R. Lee Law Office, Lawrence Law Office and Lamoureux Culham LLP. The group of students met up again at noon for a networking luncheon at St. Paul Golf Course's Tin Cup Restaurant sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch.

"Lunch brought together all of the participating students and lawyers, which allowed us to speak with lawyers practicing in different fields than the original lawyer we were shadowing," said participating student Katharine McVicar.

Ben Throndson, who began his legal studies this September, also found the experience to be valuable.

"I had a great day shadowing Trevor Lee in his law office in St. Paul," he said. "I learned a great deal about operating as a sole practitioner and I am very grateful for the opportunity to take part in the Justice Bus program."

Lee, who for over 16 years has practiced real estate, corporate/commercial and wills and estates law in the St. Paul region, was the originator of the rural Alberta Justice Bus project, a concept inspired by a program by the same name that has operated in California for the past ten years.

Two more UAlberta Law students, Emilie-Clair Draper and Pascal Visentin, were also treated to a special French-language edition of the Justice Project in Grand Prairie on August 31.

"ARDN is thrilled to see this unique project come to fruition with sponsorship from UAlberta Law and the Alberta branch of the Canadian Bar Association. We are also thrilled that three of the participants were incoming law students who had a firsthand experience in a rural law firm just before starting their coursework," said Roch Labelle, Project Manager of ARLO.