Students and recent grads from the Queen’s Law community have been selected for prestigious clerkship appointments for the 2022-2023 intake period, and the unique opportunity to learn from some of the country’s top jurists and legal bodies. This year’s appointees will be embarking on a remarkable opportunity to work directly with judges and judicial officials, substantively engage in a myriad of legal issues, and further develop their research, legal writing, critical analysis, and problem-solving skills. Of this year’s appointees, two have been selected to clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), five at federal and provincial courts of appeal, and two at federal and provincial courts.
Today, seven of this year’s clerkship recipients share their thoughts on their upcoming positions, how Queen’s Law prepared them for success, and their advice for future students considering clerkships.
Alysha Flipse, Law’20, is “incredibly excited” for her opportunity to clerk for Justice Sheilah Martin at the Supreme Court of Canada. “Clerking this year at the British Columbia Court of Appeal has been an invaluable experience, and I am very grateful that I will have the opportunity to build upon that experience at the SCC,” she says. “I also look forward to working closely with other SCC clerks. Above all, I am thrilled not only to be part of the unique legal environment at the SCC but also to learn as much as I can during my time at the Court.”
Crediting people at Queen’s Law for being a huge support throughout the application process, she says, “Students who have applied in past years are always more than willing to chat, and I would highly recommend that any student interested in clerking in the future reach out for support from their peers who have been through the process.” Additionally, she recognizes her alma mater’s professors as a great resource in terms of preparing for interviews and making sure that students are up to date on current debates in the law. “I am grateful to Professor Noah Weisbord and Professor Grégoire Webber, both of whom took the time to speak with me and provided very helpful advice and support.”
Michael Cui, Law’21, has been selected to clerk at the Federal Court of Appeal under Justice Judith M. Woods. In addition to learning about the judiciary and advocacy process from Woods, he also looks forward to working on judicial reviews. “I have a particular interest in administrative law,” he explains. “Judicial reviews make up a large volume of the Federal Court of Appeal’s case-load, so it’ll be exciting for me to get exposure to such a broad range of issues in this area.”
The Queen’s Law Career Development Office (CDO), he notes, provided essential support throughout his application process. Cui recalls a phone call he received late one evening from Julie Banting, Director of Career Development, to let him know that she was able to get the Court to accept his unofficial transcripts until the actual documents were processed. According to Cui, “This is just one example of the hard work that she and Mike Molas (Career Counsellor) put in to support our applications.”
Cultivating relationships with professors is important, he advises. “It’s a joy to get to know them over three years and you’ll find there are a lot of opportunities to learn from them outside the classroom whether by doing a moot together, journal work, or helping with some research. I’m particularly grateful to Professors Cherie Metcalf, Kevin Banks, and Colin Grey for their help with my applications and for all they’ve taught me over the course of law school.”
Christina Tang, Law’22, has been fascinated by the opportunity to clerk since her arrival to law school. “Getting the call from the Court of Appeal for Ontario was so surreal – I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not dreaming!” she exclaims. She looks forward to learning from a judicial perspective and gaining a deeper understanding of the factors that inform a judge’s decision.
Tang attributes her success to her professors (especially Jacob Weinrib, Darryl Robinson, Joshua Karton and Beverley Baines), her peers, and the CDO throughout the recruitment process. “Not only did they help me prepare my application, but they also encouraged me to be confident in myself and my capabilities as a candidate,” she says.”
In terms of advice for students considering a clerkship, she says, “Look for academic and co-curricular opportunities that really resonate with your interests and passions. For example, my interest in constitutional law led me to complete an Individual Supervised Project on section 2(b) of the Charter in the fall semester of 2L. Not only did this experience allow me to fine-tune my legal research and writing skills, but it also served as a great conversation starter in my interview. Do not be afraid to personalize your law school experience, because it shows your love for learning about the law – which, for me, is what clerking is all about.”
Samantha Bondoux, Law’21, who will also be clerking at the Ontario Court of Appeal, is excited about the “unique opportunity the clerkship provides to continue to be exposed to pressing legal issues across so many areas of law.” She is grateful for the support she received from faculty members, peers, and the CDO team throughout the application process (especially Professor Lisa Kerr, Julie Banting, Aicha Raeburn-Cherradi, and Emma Hamer). “From encouraging me to apply to enduring countless phone calls to help me prepare, the Queen’s Law community made this clerkship a possibility for me.”
Shailaja Nadarajah, Law’21, will be clerking for the British Columbia Court of Appeal (BCCA). “Many of the leading constitutional law cases in the country come out of the BCCA, and I am really looking forward to being able to discuss these important issues with judges and fellow clerks,” she says. “It will also allow me to explore all the areas of the law I’m interested in (criminal law, family law, civil litigation), and see different styles of advocacy in action.”
Like many of her peers, Nadarajah’s journey to the clerkship position has been supported and guided by many Queen’s Law community members. “So many current and incoming clerks (fellow 3Ls and alumni) gave me advice throughout the process,” she says. “Julie Banting met with me on numerous occasions to get my application materials in the best shape possible. Professors Lisa Kelly and Alyssa King provided me with constant support and feedback. I am so thankful to the Queen’s Law community for getting me to where I am today.”
She recommends that students interested in clerking broadly apply to a variety of courts and do their research early. “Some courts, you can only apply to as a 2L so it is very helpful to start thinking about it as early as 1L,” she explains. “If you think you may want to apply for clerkships in 2L, take a paper course in the fall of 2L so you have a writing sample ready to go. Use the available resources – the CDO, current and incoming clerks, professors, and friends. Just like with recruitment, my application materials went through many iterations before I finally committed to submitting.”
Rayna Lew, Law’21, secured her clerkship with the Alberta Court of Appeal, where she will review motion and appeal materials, research a broad range of legal issues, and prepare pre- and post-hearing memoranda of fact and law. “I am very excited to engage with legal issues at the appellate level, and to analyze them from both a practical and a theoretical point of view,” she says. “I’m looking forward to learning from the brilliant legal minds at the Court and engaging with different styles of advocacy.” She will also be able to work in areas of the law that she may not have otherwise been exposed to, including family law and criminal law. “I am particularly excited to work on administrative law matters, having spent a great deal of time with administrative law during the Laskin Moot this past year.
“I am very grateful for all the help and support provided to me, including by Julie Banting and Professors Sharry Aiken, Lisa Kelly, Alyssa King, and Cherie Metcalf,” she adds. “I could not have done this alone.”
How would Lew advise students considering a clerkship position in the future? “Be sure to reach out to those who have been through this process before for support. And remember, you bring something different and unique to the table! You don’t need to have the same grades or publications as someone else to get the job.”
Caine Chapman, Law’22, received the news that he had been selected to clerk at the Tax Court of Canada while participating in oral arguments during the Bowman Tax Moot. “I happened to be mooting in front of Associate Chief Justice Lamarre at the time and had to contain my excitement until after the moot,” says Chapman. In his role with the Tax Court of Canada, he is looking forward to “working with some of the best tax minds in Canada, getting a behind-the-scenes look at how the Tax Court works, and learning how to become a more effective tax litigator.”
He expresses his appreciation for the CDO, notably Molas, for helping him discover the pathway to a clerkship position, and providing valuable resources along the way.
For future clerkship applicants, Caine explained the importance of proactive planning: “The Tax Court was my top choice, so I knew I had to demonstrate my interest in tax law immediately.” To support his professional and academic objectives, he served as a research assistant to Professor Art Cockfield (who specializes in tax law), took the tax courses offered that semester, enrolled in the Bowman Tax Moot, and engaged Professor Kathleen Lahey as his supervisor for a term paper regarding a legal taxation issue. They and Professor Nick Bala contributed letters of support, connected him with former clerks, and, Chapman adds, “were very supportive of my application and instrumental in my being selected.”
Each fall, the Career Development Office hosts an information session, “Introduction to Clerkships” that provides a foundational overview of the clerkship opportunities across Canada, key dates and an overview of the application process.
Queen’s Law wishes this year’s appointees great success with their clerkships.
Queen’s Law students receiving clerkships for 2022-2023
|Alysha Flipse, Law’20||Supreme Court of Canada|
|Rachel Oster, Law’20||Supreme Court of Canada|
|Michael Cui, Law’21||Federal Court of Appeal|
|Samantha Bondoux, Law’21||Ontario Court of Appeal|
|Christina Tang, Law’22||Ontario Court of Appeal|
|Rayna Lew, Law’21||Alberta Court of Appeal|
|Shailaja Nadarajah, Law’21||B.C. Court of Appeal|
|Caine Chapman, Law’22||Tax Court of Canada|
|Ross Denny-Jiles, Law’22||Superior Court of Ontario|
By Tim Butters