The early days of the pandemic were disproportionately cruel to recent law graduates. Those on the job hunt could no longer network at legal events and conferences. Articling students and junior associates, meanwhile, fell out of touch with their mentors, as informal conversations over coffee and lunch came to a halt.
Amid that turmoil, Gurteg Singh wanted to help the newest members of the legal profession stay connected with the most seasoned veterans. “I’m a new call myself,” says Singh, a junior associate at Ethical Associates, a small Toronto law firm that specializes in human rights and dispute resolution. “So I know how intimidating it can be to reach out to senior lawyers.”
In the spring of 2021, Singh launched The 101 Series, an online monthly event targeted at law students and new lawyers. During each event, which anyone can attend for free, a senior practitioner delivers a short presentation on a different area of law. After that, Singh moderates a lengthy question period.
The first event in the series introduced Harpreet Saini, a 17-year veteran of the criminal-defence bar, to more than 150 students and junior lawyers. During the Q&A session, those in attendance peppered Saini with general questions about his career path, how to land clients and how to act in the courtroom, as well as specific queries about the criminal-trial process. “New calls could ask silly questions,” says Saini. “They didn’t have to be embarrassed about it.”
Jennifer Philpott, an associate at Goulart Workplace Lawyers in her second year of call, attended a recent session on insolvency law. The event provided a unique opportunity to learn about an area of law that sometimes intersects with her own practice. “These sessions are especially helpful for new calls who want to network,” she says. “They are great opportunities to open doors for conversations.”
Looking to the future, Singh hopes to get each session in The 101 Series CPD-certified. “I’m passionate about this,” he says. “I like helping new calls and filling holes in the legal profession.”