Frequently Asked Questions

Stewart McKelvey is known as the 'innovative' law firm. What does that mean for me as a student?

At Stewart McKelvey we do things differently. We have a strong focus on practice innovation, led by the region's first Practice Innovation Partner, Paul Saunders. Practice Innovation is a problem-solving framework that enables us to deliver efficient service to our clients using a variety of innovative, cutting-edge tools and project management methodologies designed to save time, provide cost-certainty and deliver results. We understand that diverse backgrounds and experiences allow for unique perspectives, and that solutions can come from any level. At Stewart McKelvey, our students' contributions make a difference. Here, you will make real contributions to files, and attend Court and client meetings, all while being mentored by our partners and associates in an innovation-focused environment.

Stewart McKelvey has a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. Can you tell me more about this?

We value diversity and inclusion and are committed to providing a workplace that fosters a culture of awareness, appreciation and respect. Our Firm is a member of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, and we work closely with them to guide our practices and get the latest in industry knowledge. Our internal Diversity and Inclusion Committee, made up of lawyers and staff across all offices, focuses on leadership, recruitment, retention and awareness at all levels of the Firm. We regularly support and celebrate events like pride week and multicultural days across all of our offices.

How does Stewart McKelvey give back to the community? What sort of community events are the Firm and its students and clerks involved in?

Stewart McKelvey has a strong commitment to the communities where we live and work. Our lawyers, clerks, students and staff are actively involved with many community organizations and each year we support over 250 non-profits and charities that help to make Atlantic Canada a better place to live. We deliver community engagement through various initiatives including volunteer support, financial contributions, providing professional expertise and in kind support. Examples of recent student and articled clerk participation include Lawn Summer Nights in support of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids Sake, and Habitat for Humanity.

“I would recommend the Stewart McKelvey student program because it provides law students with the opportunity to learn about different areas of law and gain practical experience working in the legal profession."

-Simon McCormick, Associate, Halifax

What sets Stewart McKelvey's Student Program apart from other Firms?

We have a Professional Resources team dedicated to our students and clerks' professional development, and helping you navigate your articling year every step of the way. We boast full-time professional knowledge managers, extensive library holdings and online search tools, a top notch administrative team and leading technology that provides flexibility to work remotely and efficiently. These resources, combined with our mentorship and feedback programs, continuing education opportunities, and focus on innovation, make Stewart McKelvey the ideal place to gain exposure to a wide variety of practice areas. 

What professional development opportunities are available to students and clerks?

We pride ourselves on the extensive learning opportunities we are able to provide to students and articled clerks. These include comprehensive orientation sessions in each office focused on practice management, our Firm-wide boot camp focused on substantive law and practice, regular practice group meetings and in-house lunch and learns. A non-billable training time file is available for use by students and articled clerks to learn from observing senior lawyers in action.

Does the Firm have a formal mentorship program?

Yes, students are paired with an associate mentor, and articled clerks are paired with both a partner mentor or principal and an associate mentor. Some social events are planned specifically for students, clerks and mentors. The formal mentorship program continues for associates, and the Firm celebrates mentorship with an annual Mentor of the Year award.

What does the Firm's performance review / feedback process look like?

Students and clerks are encouraged to seek out constructive feedback from partners and associates as they work on files or non-billable projects. The Firm uses internally developed technology called Feedback Matters to facilitate contemporaneous access to constructive feedback. Feedback Matters is also the tool used to obtain feedback used for mid-articles performance evaluation and hireback purposes. Partners and associates comment on performance in the context of work quality, research, analysis, time management, commitment to client service, teamwork and communication.

How is work delegated? How do rotations work?

Work is delegated by partners and associates directly to students and clerks. Students and articled clerks are encouraged to take the initiative in seeking out work in a variety of practice areas and to get to know all the lawyers in the Firm. Articled clerks help chart their own articling program within the guidelines set by the governing Law Society or Barristers' Society. In our Saint John and Halifax offices, articled clerks have a six month rotation in each of Advocacy and Business.

What are the expectations regarding workload?

At this stage of your legal career, we believe the focus should be on learning. We support students and articled clerks in developing strong timekeeping and time management practices, without the pressure of hourly targets. Students and articled clerks are encouraged to attend firm social events and to balance their professional and personal lives.

What is a typical day like for students and clerks? What type of work can I expect? Will I get to interact directly with clients?

We aim to have each student and articled clerk receive a balanced and varied range of assignments in a wide range of practice areas. You can expect to be involved in challenging assignments representative of the practice of law at Stewart McKelvey. In addition to honing research, writing and drafting skills, there is an emphasis on getting students and articled clerks out of the office to observe lawyers in action; for example, attending discoveries, client meetings, and mediations.

What are you looking for in a student or articled clerk?

We look for our future partners. There is no specific "type" - we value diversity in perspectives at all levels. We look for transferable skills and experience that demonstrates a commitment to client service, innovative thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, initiative, work ethic, resilience and positive outlook.

How many articled clerks are hired back as new associates?

We have a strong hire-back record in all offices. Of those who expressed an interest in an associate position, 15/16 were hired back in 2018, 13/15 were hired back in 2017, and 13/14 were hired back in 2016.

What does the Firm's benefit package look like for students and articled clerks?

Summer students have access to a paid parking or transit pass as well as a wellness program. In addition, Stewart McKelvey offers comprehensive life, health and dental plans, employee assistance plan and mobile device reimbursement plan for articled clerks. All Law Society and Barristers' Society fees are paid by the Firm, along with Canadian Bar Association membership.