Legal Services is a function of the City Clerk and Solicitor Department and involves providing clients with high quality legal services, both preventative and remedial, in a professional and timely manner. Our mission is twofold - the pursuit of excellence in the practice of law and the provision of cost-effective legal services within a business sensitive environment.
The organizational design of the legal services function includes twenty-three Lawyers, an Office Manager, two Articling Law Students, Prosecutors, Claims Investigators and various support staff including Law Clerks, Insurance Specialist, Legal Conveyancer and Legal Assistants.
We provide legal services to a broad range of clients, encompassing all Departments and Branches of the City, the City Council, and various local boards (including the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Ottawa Public Library Board).
The Legal Services’ Articling Program has been in place for over 30 years and more than a third of our current complement of lawyers have articled with Legal Services, including the current City Clerk and Solicitor, M. Rick O’Connor, Certified Municipal Officer and Law Society of Upper Canada Certified Specialist (Municipal Law: Local Government), who articled with the former Region of Ottawa-Carleton in 1987-1988.
Our practice areas and services include:
- Administrative Law
- Contract and Procurement Law
- Employment and Labour Law
- Environmental Law
- Litigation and Prosecutions
- Police Law
- Planning and Development Law
- Real Estate and Conveyancing
The City of Ottawa – A Variety of Careers … A Diversity of People
In 2017, for the sixth consecutive year, the City of Ottawa was named one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers in a competition that recognizes organizations for their exceptional workplace diversity and inclusion programs. This recognition reflects the City's dedication to establishing a qualified workforce that reflects the diverse community that it serves and to create a work environment where everyone is treated fairly, respectfully and with dignity. The City Clerk and Solicitor Department demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion by providing a supportive work environment and a culture that encourages applications from women, aboriginal peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans-sexual or questioning (LGBTQ).
Articling with City of Ottawa Legal Services
The City of Ottawa’s Legal Services Articling Program provides Articling Law Students with an opportunity to work within a broad range of practice areas and instructs students in the professional responsibilities of being a lawyer. The program also meets the overall departmental objective of providing clients with quality legal services in a timely manner.
There is currently a complement of two Articling Law Students within Legal Services. Over the course of each articling period, a student is assigned files that expose him or her to each of the areas of the law practised in the Department.
Articling Law Students usually have complete carriage of litigation files within the Small Claims Court jurisdiction. Students have responsibility for other files as assigned and can expect to participate in the preparation for, and attendance at, various tribunals, such as labour relation arbitrations, the Ontario Municipal Board, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, etc. Students are also involved in conducting research, preparing opinions, attending Committees and drafting legislative proposals, and are also required to regularly attend sessions at the Provincial Offences Act (POA) Court.
Areas of Specialization
The increase in the complexity of the law and concomitant specialization amongst lawyers, which has occurred in the past two decades, is reflected in the general areas of responsibility, which have been developed within the legal services function. The main categories of specialization are:
Governance, Legislation and By-laws
On a regular basis, lawyers provide information and opinions to City Departments and Branches on pertinent legislation affecting their operations or responsibilities.
In addition, Legal Services is responsible for the preparation/review of virtually all of the by-laws that are enacted by City Council each year.
While the primary administrative tribunal before which the City appears is the Ontario Municipal Board, lawyers also make appearances before the:
- Property Standards and License Appeals Committee;
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario;
- Canada Transportation Agency;
- Environmental Review Tribunal;
- Ontario Highway Transport Board;
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission;
- Social Benefits Tribunal; and
- Ontario Energy Board.
Lawyers also appear regularly before Standing Committees and City Council to give advice on:
- Legal implications of proposed initiatives;
- Procedural matters;
- Requirements for holding statutory hearings; and
- Implications of judicial review in municipal actions and decisions pursuant to the Judicial Review Procedure Act.
Contract and Procurement Law
The City of Ottawa is constantly involved in a large number of public works construction projects, including rapid transit and light rail. Lawyers also negotiate, draft and review a broad range of contracts for the numerous Departments and Branches of the City. Contract law falls under the Corporate, Development and Environmental Law Branch.
The City has a comprehensive Purchasing By-law governing the procurement of goods, services and construction. Each year, the City on average purchases about three quarters of a billion dollars worth of such goods, services and construction.
Employment and Labour Law
Lawyers in the Litigation and Labour Relations Branch provide legal services in the area of employment and labour law. In addition to providing opinions in this area of the law, these lawyers appear as Counsel on:
- Applications for judicial review of arbitration awards;
- Wrongful Dismissal cases;
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board matters; and
- Occupational Health and Safety Act issues and proceedings before other employment related tribunals such as the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Municipalities face increasingly high levels of environmental regulation of their activities. The City of Ottawa addresses provincial and federal environmental regulations in activities such as waste management and the provision of municipal services such as road, water service, waste collection and disposal and sewer construction.
Lawyers within the Corporate, Development and Environmental Law Branch provide opinions to guide City Departments and Branches through existing environmental regulations, amendments to corporate by-laws, administration of by-laws and policies to meet new environmental obligations and interpretation of new legislative initiatives. Litigation
The City is involved with personal injury, damage to personal property and commercial claims arising from its broad range of activities. Lawyers within the Litigation and Labour Relations Branch represent the City and its local boards in hundreds of civil court actions.
Legal Services is also responsible for the prosecution of Parts 1 and 2 of the Provincial Offences Act, as well as City by-laws. The Provincial Offences Court is located at 100 Constellation Crescent, as are the Department’s six Prosecutors and a Legal Assistant.
Legal services are provided to the Police Services Board, as well as reporting to the City on policing-related matters. These legal services cover a broad range including:
- Employment and labour law;
- Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act matters; and
- Civil litigation and representations before the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Planning and Development
The provision of extensive services in the area of planning and development law involves a number of Lawyers and Law Clerks within the Planning and Development unit of the Corporate, Development and Environmental Law Branch (CDEL). Legal services include the review, preparation, drafting and processing of subdivision, site plan, condominium, land severance and other development agreements. A senior lawyer in the CDEL branch oversees Legal Services’ One-Stop Service for supporting the City’s planning and development process as part of the larger, corporate-wide One-Stop Service Initiative. The One-Stop Service Initiative is also part of the City’s Service Excellence Program to its residents and businesses.
The Department is also responsible for the provision of legal services in relation to the Official Plan, zoning matters and appeals of decisions by the Committees of Adjustment.
Real Estate and Conveyancing
The City of Ottawa is continually acquiring property, both through the exercise of its expropriating authority and through the process of negotiation. Lawyers within the Corporate, Development and Environmental Law Branch devote a significant amount of their time to real estate acquisitions and sales. In addition, two Law Clerks and the Legal Conveyancer work almost exclusively in this area of the law.
In addition to the general legal services outlined above, it is anticipated that Articling Law Students would become involved in any number of special projects that arise from time to time.
Our Articling Experience
Former City of Ottawa students have shared the following insights into their articling experience at the City of Ottawa:
My articling experience at the City of Ottawa was interesting and varied. I had carriage of my own litigation and prosecution files, and I gained tremendous experience in various other areas of law. I was given the opportunity to work in French and in English, and was provided with plenty of guidance and feedback throughout my articles. This supportive atmosphere made it easy to get mentoring help whenever I needed it, and as a result, I acquired a good understanding of the various facets of Municipal Law, and I developed the confidence and ability to make good decisions in the interests of my clients.
– Matthieu Charron, Legal Counsel, Litigation and Labour Relations, City of Ottawa
I greatly enjoyed my articling experience with the City of Ottawa. As an Articling Student, I had the opportunity to routinely conduct prosecutions in Provincial Offences Court and to represent the City in Small Claims Court in English and French. By the end of my articles, I was comfortable autonomously conducting trials and managing files. In addition, I was exposed to a diverse range of areas of the law including municipal, labour, human rights, and tort law. Articling with the City of Ottawa provided an excellent foundation of skills and knowledge upon which to build an exciting legal career. – Samantha Montreuil, Legal Counsel, Corporate, Development and Environmental Law, City of Ottawa
Benefits and Compensation
- Salary for 2016 – 2017 is expected to be in the range of $42,000 to $52,000 (based on 12 months).
- At commencement of articling term, Articling Law Students are entitled to dental and extended health benefits, as well as life insurance.
- Articling Law Students are entitled to three weeks of paid vacation.
- The Department provides $2,200 towards the Bar Admission Course fee.
We are committed to the Continuing Professional Development of all Legal Services staff. Therefore, in order to meet present and future educational needs of the legal profession, we encourage our Articling Law Students to attend programs, activities or seminars offered by the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association, the County of Carleton Law Association (CCLA) and/or other continuing legal education providers.
Articling Law Students will benefit from regular reviews that take place between the Students and their Principals to ensure a successful and rewarding articling term. We also encourage Students to provide us with feedback and suggestions for improving our program.
The 2017 Articling Recruitment Process has completed and the City’s articling student positions have been filled for the 2018-2019 Articling Term.
As a regulated recruitment process, the City receives and reviews applications, and interviews candidates, in accordance with the guidelines, rules and deadlines set by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC). Details about the 2018 Application Process will be posted once the recruitment dates have been confirmed by the LSUC.
Interviews are typically scheduled during the first two weeks of June.
All inquiries can be directed to:
Legal Research Officer, Legal Operations and Support Services Branch
City of Ottawa, Legal Services
110 Laurier Avenue West, 3rd floor / Mail Code 01-83
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 14465
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Articling Students does the City of Ottawa hire?
The City typically hires two Articling Law Students per articling term.
Does the City have a summer law student program?
No, the City does not currently have a summer law student program.
What is the City’s primary method of recruiting articling students?
Our two articling positions are filled through the annual external recruitment process.
Does the City have a preference in terms of which law school a student attends?
No, the City encourages and accepts applications from eligible law students attending law schools across Canada and elsewhere. All applicants are given equal consideration.
Does the City conduct second interviews and/or host social events?
No, there is typically only one interview and the City does not hold social events with respect to the articling recruitment process.
What does the City of Ottawa look for in an Articling Student?
Overall, the City seeks well-rounded individuals who are genuinely interested in our main practice areas and broad range of clients. While strong law school grades, a desire to work in the public sector and interest in advocacy are important factors in our screening process, applicants’ work experience, undergraduate grades, personal interests and extracurricular activities are all considered when determining to whom we offer interviews.
Does the City hire back Articling Students?
As with many public sector workplaces, hire-backs depend on budgetary approvals and the City cannot make any commitments that Articling Students will have positions at the end of their articles. Departmental need is also a factor in hire-back decisions. However, it should be noted that more than a third of our current complement of lawyers articled with the City of Ottawa.
When are students expected to start their articles?
There are no formal start dates, however, the articling term typically commences in mid-July or early August.
What areas of law might I experience as an articling student?
Being at the City affords the opportunity to gain experience in multiple areas of the law. The main areas of practice for articling students will include Municipal, Civil, Provincial Prosecutions, Labour, Employment, Human Rights, Corporate, Environmental, Planning and Real Estate Law. Relevant legislation in these practice areas may include the Municipal Act 2001, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of the Small Claims Court, Labour Relations Act, Employment Standards Act, Provincial Offences Act, Human Rights Code, Planning Act, Police Services Act, Ambulance Act, Building Code Act 1992, Ontario Heritage Act, Environmental Assessment Act, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and Personal Health Information Protection Act.
Can articling students choose to focus on specific areas of law?
At the City, you can expect to have an interesting and challenging caseload of both small claims court work and prosecutions, which you will be expected to manage with supervision. You are also strongly encouraged to communicate your interests and seek work in any of your preferred areas of practice. You will be exposed to a broad range of practice areas, and the legal team at the City will always take an active approach to ensuring that you are gaining the experience you desire during your articling term.
Why should I article with the City of Ottawa?
As one of our legal counsel, who articled with a private firm, once said: “Articling with the City instructs you in being a lawyer, not just a good law student.” In other words, we are committed to ensuring our law students not only have a successful articling term, but are also well-prepared for their professional practice as lawyers. In addition to providing a unique opportunity to work within a bilingual municipal government setting, our articling students are given considerable responsibility and valuable hands-on experience. This includes full carriage of their own Small Claims Court files, conducting prosecutions under the Provincial Offences Act, and attending hearings at various tribunals and arbitrations. On the solicitor side, students are involved in drafting City by-laws and other legislative matters involving City Council and various committees. Our articling students gain practical experience working independently on a broad range of legal issues, while also benefiting from a collegial team atmosphere where they are given consistent guidance from their articling principals and lawyers in the department. As valued members of our legal team, articling students are essential in meeting our objective of providing excellent legal services in a timely manner.
Who can I contact for more information about the City’s articling program?
All inquiries can be directed to:
Lisa Kilner, Legal Research Officer
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 14465
The City also attends the University of Ottawa Career Day in March each year. If you are in Ottawa, please be sure to stop by our booth where some of our lawyers will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the articling program and the interesting and challenging work they do as Legal Counsel for the City of Ottawa.