Lawyer articling search hard due to economy

A dearth of articling positions in Ontario is forcing many law school students to consider something that would have seemed unfathomable just a few years ago — a future career outside of Bay Street, wrote The Lawyers Weekly in its Sept. 30 issue.

The still-recovering economy is widely seen as the primary cause because it has convinced many law firms to reduce the number of articling jobs they offer.

So, what’s a would-be lawyer to do?

Mya Bulwa, assistant dean of recruitment, admissions and career development at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, says she encourages its students to broaden their horizons and reach out to small firms and sole practitioners outside of downtown Toronto. “Most lawyers in the province practise on their own or in smaller offices. There are a finite number of articling positions with the large downtown firms,” she says, adding between 50 and 75 of its students are typically still looking for an articling position going into their third year.

She says a further challenge for students comes from foreign-trained professionals seeking accreditation in Canada. Once they’ve passed the necessary exams, they’re treated as if they had graduated from a Canadian law school. “It’s a whole other group looking for articling positions,” she says.

Standing out from the masses can be difficult but it is possible, experts say. Bulwa recommends students channel their inner politician and shake a few hands and network.

She recommends developing connections with lawyers and potential employers as early as they can so they’re not relying on the limited number of postings the masses apply for. Ideally, they can make a favourable impression with a lawyer or a firm that hadn’t considered hiring an articling student before, she says.

Schulich’s India campus starting to emerge

Dezsö Horváth, dean of York University’s Schulich School of Business, was in India this week, reviewing architectural drawings for his school’s new MBA campus in Hyderabad, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 23.

“I’m very excited now when I see this building starting to emerge,” says Horváth of his school’s partnership with GMR Group, a major Indian infrastructure company.

The decision to locate in India, where Schulich has ties that date to the early 1990s, is an acknowledgment of changing global demands, says Horváth. “Transnational companies need students who are exposed to the global environment and to deliver the program, I need to expose faculty to teach in the global environment,” he says. Establishing a campus in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world is also good for Canada, he adds, addressing this country’s demand for skilled immigrants.

He believes that Canada’s reputation abroad and the quality of its education institutions at home put the country in a strong position to become a major exporter of higher education. “The competitive advantage in the world is not money; it is money and brain power,” he observes. “If Canada wants to survive and do well, yes, we have the raw materials, energy and food, but in the final analysis we have to train good people with a high-quality and global perspective.”

Experts: Ford Nation not a huge threat

It’s a common threat Mayor Rob Ford has said to provincial party leaders: they better watch it or he’s going to unleash "Ford Nation" on them, wrote Newstalk 1010 Radio online Sept. 26.

And while that may have held some weight in the past, with dipping popularity known-conservative Ford may not really be helping PC leader Tim Hudak if the mayor decides to publicly back him.

Last week, a poll conducted for Newstalk 1010 by Ipsos-Reid showed 53 per cent of Torontonians surveyed say Ford being mayor of Toronto makes them less likely to vote for the Tories.

Chair of the Political Science Department at York University’s Glendon College Ian Roberge notes this is not the first time a connection has been made between a municipal politician and other levels of government, underlining former mayor David Miller had ties to the NDP and labour groups. What Roberge says is the difference, is that Ford is louder and more out there than Miller was.

Either way, Roberge says he doesn’t think a mayor can really influence voters.

Ontario needs patience with the feed-in tariff

We have barely reached the two-year anniversary of Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program, the biggest energy initiative to flow out of the province’s Green Energy Act, and certain folks have already declared it a failure, wrote Tyler Hamilton, adjunct professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in the Toronto Star Sept. 24.

"Be patient at the beginning," urged Harry Lehmann, director-general of Germany’s federal environmental protection agency.

Lehmann was in town last week to kick off a regular seminar series launched by York University’s new Sustainable Energy Initiative, part of its Faculty of Environmental Studies.

What it will take to slide into a recession

A potential recession isn’t a pretty picture, said Fred Lazar, an economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 24. "We’d see job losses accelerate. The unemployment rate could go well beyond 8 per cent. Income gains will all but disappear," said Lazar, who figures there’s about a 75 per cent chance of a recession happening in Canada.

"I think what we’ll see is Europe falling off the cliff, the US muddling along with low growth and Canada somewhere in the middle."

Experts weigh in on problem private schools

For Alice Pitt, York University’s dean of education, standardized testing is too blunt a tool for a problem like [private school] credit mills, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 26. "To try and fix a small but very irritating problem with a huge whack of a policy initiative, that would cost a fortune," said Pitt, who believes the best solution for drawing kids away from credit mills is to improve the public school system.

Why Calgary is the place to buy your first house

There have been plenty of warnings that Canada’s housing market is overheated and that the gap between income and home prices is pushing the cost of home ownership in big cities out of the average Canadian family’s reach, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 26.

This is especially true in markets like Toronto and Vancouver, where the proportion of income required to buy a house has drastically increased in recent years. As York University Professor Moshe Milevsky [Schulich School of Business] wrote in a recent Moneyville article, the average Canadian house price has doubled in the past 10 years, while median pay has increased by just 10 per cent.

Cities can’t be ignored, says study

Cities are the goose that lay the golden eggs for the province, but political parties aren’t paying enough attention, researchers say, wrote 24 Hours Toronto Sept. 26.

A team of researchers from York University, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo and others released a report, “Cities Grow Ontario” highlighting the crucial roles cities play in supporting and generating provincial prosperity. However, they say city issues are often ignored or paid very little attention.

An oil ad vexes the Saudis

Advocates of [Canada’s] oil sand production are arguing that the human rights record of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil exporters makes oil sands a more ethical energy source, particularly for the United States, wrote The New York Times Sept. 26, in a story about Saudi objections to a television ad for the project.

Andrew Crane, a professor of business ethics at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, said that though "the idea that there’s one kind of ethical oil and that it all comes from the tar sands is absurd," the ad does not misrepresent the nature of women’s issues in Saudi Arabia.

Local synagogue receives 250-year-old copy of the Torah

If it could talk, the most precious treasure in the possession of the local Iyr HaMelech Reform Synagogue would speak volumes of tears, wrote The Kingston Whig-Standard Sept. 24. And it would probably also say, spruce me up so I can be used to read the sacred words again.

That’s exactly what the members of the small Jewish reform congregation are trying to do with a copy of the Torah, which is the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The Torah survived and came into the possession of a group in London who awarded it permanently on loan to the Kingstonians on condition that it be cared for properly. It has already been repaired once but now needs more repairs as some of the inking is fading, so it cannot be used. Singer says a sofer – a scribe who is officially allowed to copy the Torah – has looked at it and said that it would cost some $10,000 to fix.

It’s a painstaking task, says the congregation’s new Rabbi, Matthew Kaufman, who will be officially installed later this fall. He’s currently a doctoral student in humanities at York University and will come up to Kingston to officiate monthly and on high holidays like Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) on Sept. 29.

Says Kaufman, "There’s a general level of holiness to the Torah and there’s an added dimension to this scroll. It’s part of a congregation that perished in the Holocaust. Despite the tragedy, it’s an affirmation of life and a past that is to be cherished."

Canadian-Somali youth work to help their homeland

While touring Europe with her mother this summer, Fatouma Ahmed [BA Hons. ’09] couldn’t get images of starving Somali children out of her mind, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 24 in a story about the Walk for Somalia. This was her first big vacation after graduating two years ago from [Glendon College,] York University, where she studied international affairs and sociology.

Ahmed, 25, felt guilty. Born in northern Somalia, she was seven years old when her family moved to Toronto in 1994. She has thrived in Canada, securing a good job with the federal government after university. She believes it’s her duty to help.

When Ahmed returned to Toronto in early August, she immediately began phoning her friends in a bid to organize a fundraiser: Concerned Youth Bringing Hope to Somalia was born. Within a month, the group’s seven members planned a silent auction and a dinner for 200 people at Thorncliffe Banquet Hall, securing $90,000 in pledges for Human Concern International, a Canadian charity that works in Somalia and other poor and war-torn countries.

Tribal conflicts have long divided Somalis, but Ahmed sees a shift occurring at home, in Canada, especially among the younger generation. "For the first time, I feel a sense of unity among all of us because we’re all fighting for one cause and we’re all fighting for a better Somalia," she says.

York filmmaker building his cinematic universe from scratch

A retrospective of the work of someone still in their 20s is a bit unusual to say the least but Pacific Cinémathèque is making a special case for the films of young Mexican director Nicolás Pereda [BA Spec. Hons.’05, MFA ’07] , wrote BC’s North Shore News Sept. 23.

The prolific filmmaker has built up a considerable oeuvre over the last couple of years moving back and forth between Toronto and Mexico. Born in Mexico City in 1982 Pereda moved to Canada when he was 19 to study film at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts]. He managed to turn his grad thesis Where Are Their Stories? (¿Dónde están sus historias?, Mexico/Canada, 2007) into his first feature film and has been turning out top quality cinema ever since. The Cinémathèque is showing all five of his feature films over the next week.

New York City’s Anthology Film Archives, which screened the retrospective in July, says "Pereda combines aspects of some of the most notable trends in contemporary world cinema, including elements of deadpan minimalism, slacker cinema, the documentary/fiction hybrid, and long-take formalism. And like Tsai Ming-Liang, Pedro Costa and Jia Zhang-ke, his work has focused on a handful of actors who reappear from film to film, playing fascinating variations on their previous roles. Drawing a great deal of their power from these actors’ remarkable presence, and from his own evocative sense of place, Pereda’s films are among the chief testaments to the incredible vitality and creativity of Mexican cinema today."

Pereda did meet Alejandro Coronado-Cortes [BFA Spec. Hons. ’05] , the cameraman on all his films in Toronto. "We were in the same program at York. We shot a couple of short films. We didn’t have too much time to think about what we were doing as we were shooting so often. It was a good time to meet and find out how we both worked together."

Finizi Corp. is ‘trying to replace the GIC broker’

Success for Daniel Shain [BBA Spec.  Hons. ’08] will mean putting every GIC broker out of work, wrote the National Post Sept. 26, in a story about the York grad and his company.

"We’re trying to replace the GIC brokers," said the 25-year-old founder of Finizi Corp., operator of a reverse auction website for guaranteed investment certificates. Instead of customers having to either spend time shopping around to find the highest GIC rate, or paying someone to do it for them, Finizi or "finance made easy," turns the process on its head.

Once he decided to leave his job as a financial advisor last February to focus full time on Finizi – a position he attained after starting as a bank teller while still in undergraduate training at York University’s Shulich School of Business – Shain and his two grayhaired executives kicked in what they could from their personal savings to get the business off the ground.

On air

  • Gordon Shepherd, professor emeritus in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the re-entry of NASA’s UARS satellite and the Windii space instrument he helped design, on 680 News Sept. 22.
  • Perry Sadorsky, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the world debt crisis, on CBC Radio Sept. 23.
  • Alexandre Brassard, political science professor in York’s Glendon College, spoke about the latest developments in the provincial election campaign on Radio Canada Toronto’s “Au Dela De La 401” Sept. 23.
  • Stuart Shanker, distinguished research professor of psychology and philosophy in York’s Faculty of Health, spoke about athletes and the current social change movement, on CBC Radio’s “Ideas” Sept. 23.