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I summered and articled in the Ontario crown attorney's office system, and continued as an assistant
crown attorney after being called. I have done about half a dozen interviews for various positions
(summer, articling, crown) in three different MAG offices.
Substantive interview questions typically focus on criminal law, criminal procedure, the law of
evidence, and crown policy. You should also expect to answer questions about yourself and your
experience. Your interview may involve one or more written answers. Remember also that style and
presentation count. Although you are only being hired as a summer student, the question of what
kind of crown you would make is there in the background.
It is unnerving at first, but the interviewer(s) will spend very little time looking at you. They will be
writing notes. Contrary to most social situations, less eye contact is better: it signals that the
interviewer is writing more. These are scored interviews. More to write is more to score.
It is a good idea to have 1 or 2 cases to talk about if you are asked. Slippery gives a good example
of this kind of question, although the question would more likely ask "What is one of the most
important cases" rather than "the most important case."
Finally, call up a current articling student in the office where you have applied, if there is one.
Because this person will have no involvement in the hiring process, you are free to ask whatever you
need to ask about that specific office.
As a summer student I worked from 8 or 9 in the morning until 6 or 7 at night. On a regular basis I
worked on weekends or evenings when necessary to get something done. My hours while articling
were insane virtually all of the time. As a crown my hours are insane between 1/3 and 1/2 of the
time. The rest of the time I work from 8 to 8 or 9 to 9, but when necessary I will take work home with
me after that -- occurs a few times a week on average.
I would strongly recommend working in the crown's office. There is no equal for anyone who is
interested in litigation. Think of it this way: Defence lawyers get more court experience than most
other lawyers. As a crown, I had completed more trials in my first six months than most defence
lawyers do in 2-3 years. It's not more court experience, it's in a completely different ball park. Apart
from court experience, the work is extremely satisfying. It feels good to serve the public, pursue the
truth, and work on cases that are interesting, important and intellectually stimulating.
Two downsides are (1) lack of job security in the early years and (2) lack of secretarial/admin
support. I'll start with job security. In MAG there is no "hireback" per se. You compete for everything.
In some offices it is a tough competition to get from summer student to articling student. Then,
getting articles is no guarantee of becoming a contract crown. Then, becoming a contract crown is
no guarantee of becoming a permanent crown. It is a tough hustle and competition with your peers
the whole way through. Many people do not make it the whole way through. I elaborated on the
process in this thread.
Lack of secretarial/admin support. In many professional offices, the professionals politely joke that
the secretaries are the real bosses and run the show. In the public service, the secretaries do not
understand that it's just a polite joke. They take it literally. Not only do they not help you, they give
you work to do. Obviously this is not true with all people in all offices all the time, but I guarantee you
will find that in the public service the tail wags the dog a very large amount of the time. This is
nowhere near the private sector experience of having an assistant who is invaluable to your practice.
Learn how to use the fax machine, binding machine, and photocopier, 'cause you'll need those skills
well into your career as a lawyer.
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