Articling at the City of Toronto
Join our team of 140 lawyers and experience the breadth and variety of practice of a full-service firm, within a collegial environment working in the public interest. The City is committed to an inclusive workplace culture supporting a public service that is reflective of the diverse population it serves.
We generally hire six articling students each year and we recruit the majority of our lawyers through the articling process as hire-backs. The number of hire-backs depends on budgetary approvals.
How to Apply
We’re looking for students who demonstrate strong academic credentials and a desire to work for the public sector. This is demonstrated through your cover letter, resume, law school courses and other interests and in the interview itself.
If you’re interested in articling and the City of Toronto for the 2019-2020 term, submit an application consisting of a cover letter, resume, undergraduate and law school transcripts and two letters of reference by Friday, July 6, 2018 at 5 p.m. Choose one of the following three ways to send us your application:
- Submit it through viDesktop
- Mail it to Diana Dimmer at the following address:
Ms. Diana Dimmer
Director – Legal Services
26th Floor, Metro Hall, Stn. 1260
55 John Street
Toronto, ON M5V 3C6
- Send it by email to Diana.Dimmer@toronto.ca
The City of Toronto receives and reviews applications and interviews students in accordance with the guidelines and rules established by the Law Society of Ontario. Please refer to the Law Society of Ontario for more information.
Students selected for interviews will be contacted by one of our lawyers on call day in order to schedule the interview. Interviews will be held on Monday and Tuesday of interview week, as set by the Law Society of Ontario.
The City’s Prosecutions team of nine lawyers and seventy-two prosecutors handle a broad range of regulatory offences. This includes offences under City by-laws such as Animals, Licensing, Noise, Parks, Sewers, Signs and Trees, as well as offences under statutes such as the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, the Building Code Act, 1992, the Highway Traffic Act, the Planning Act, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Prosecutions and appeals at the first instance are conducted at the Ontario Court of Justice, and further appeals are heard at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada.
The City responds to Charter challenges, such as those for the right to be tried within a reasonable time, the presumption of innocence and the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
The Prosecutions team further runs an Administrative Penalty System for parking violation disputes.
Each of the City’s articling students will participate in a seven-day rotation in the Prosecutions section. During that time, students will have the opportunity to first observe and then conduct a variety of prosecutions, under the guidance of prosecutors.
The City of Toronto has approximately 37,000 full and part-time employees. Legal Services’ Employment and Labour Law team of 14 lawyers offers a full range of employment and management-side labour law services to the City regarding its role as an employer.
Our lawyers deal with issues arising from collective agreements between the City of Toronto and two major unions: TCEU, Local 416 and CUPE, Local 79, which is the largest municipal local in Canada. We also provide legal advice involving a variety of workplaces, including the Toronto Public Library, community centres, the Toronto Zoo, Exhibition Place, Civic Theatres Toronto, the Toronto Police Services Board, Toronto Paramedic Services, and Toronto Fire Services.
In addition to our diverse labour practice, our lawyers represent and provide legal advice to the City in matters involving non-unionized employees.
While articling at the City, Students can expect to assist in a wide variety of matters, including:
- Labour arbitrations
- Ontario Labour Relations Board proceedings
- Workers’ compensation files (including carriage of Workplace Safety and Insurance Act Appeals)
- Employment contract drafting
- Human rights and equity issues
- Collective bargaining
- Employment and labour law opinions
- Wrongful dismissal civil claims
- Judicial reviews
- Occupational Health and Safety issues
- Delivering legal education seminars to client groups
With the supervision and guidance of our lawyers, Students take an active role in all aspects of case preparation. Students may be asked to conduct client and witness interviews, research legal issues, draft opinion letters and draft pleadings or facta. Students are assigned carriage of their own files pertaining to appeals under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
Did you know?
- Advised Council and City staff regarding employment elements of the first municipal public service bylaw in Canada.
- Played key roles in the negotiation and arbitration of the collective agreements between the City and its unions.
- Attend hundreds of hearing dates annually before labour arbitrators, the Human Rights Tribunal, The Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal, and the courts.
- Advise City staff in relation to employment issues in relation to a diverse range of City initiatives.
Planning and Administrative Tribunal Law (or “Planning Law”) is a team of 28 lawyers whose practice focuses on the administration of the municipal planning process. The lawyers in Planning Law engage with a number of provincial and municipal planning instruments, including the Planning Act, the Toronto Official Plan, and municipal zoning by-laws. The Planning Law section is regularly tasked with drafting zoning by-laws, negotiating and drafting agreements between the City and developers, and conducting hearings before the Ontario Municipal Board, the Toronto Local Appeal Body and appeals to the Divisional Court. In their role, planning lawyers frequently provide legal advice to other City departments, including City Planning, and engage with both City Councillors and the public on matters of planning policy and development approvals.
In addition, the Planning Law section also represents the City in a wide variety of other administrative tribunals regulating the use of private land, including the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission, the Licence Appeal Tribunal, and the Heritage Conservation Board.
As a student in the Planning Law section, your work will include:
- Attending hearings, pre-hearings, mediations, and meetings with senior lawyers
- Drafting agreements securing parkland, public art, and other public benefits for the City while setting out the developer’s obligations with regard to a particular development proposal
- Preparing and reviewing municipal by-laws and bills, including by-laws for re-zoning and official plan amendment applications
- Researching and drafting legal opinions
- Attending Community Council meetings
The Planning Law team is dedicated to ensuring that students learn the “nuts and bolts” of this unique area of law. We understand that students may not have been exposed to planning law issues prior to working at the City. In addition to discovering a new subject area, during this rotation students will develop and improve upon practical legal skills including oral and written advocacy, researching, and drafting. This is an exciting time to work in the municipal planning area as a result of significant Provincial law changes under Bill 139 to appeals of municipal council decisions on planning matters.
Did you know?
- Facilitated new community revitalization programs in parts of the City, including Regent Park and Lawrence Heights.
- Led the re-development of the diverse City’s neighbourhoods such as the Waterfront and East Don Lands, which were developed into the site of the Athlete’s Village for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
- Promote City Council’s position with respect to prominent and controversial development proposals such as the 80+ storey 3-tower Mirvish project in the theatre district, the proposed redevelopment of the Honest Ed’s site and the Weston cultural hub.
- Work with City Planning and the Real Estate Services team regarding the development of the Rail Deck Park.
The City of Toronto employs a team of about 35 civil and commercial litigators, who enjoy a dynamic and diverse practice in a collegial work environment. The City’s litigators are at the forefront of matters of public policy as they relate to a broad range of practice areas. These include litigation matters related to:
- Constitutional, Charter and other challenges to municipal bylaws
- Human rights
- Environmental law
- Public Health law
- Building Code Act regulation
- Commercial law
- Heritage Act
- Personal injury
- Construction law
- Business Licensing
- Land assessment and taxation
- Municipal Elections
The City’s litigators appear at all levels of court, including the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. City litigators also appear before a variety of administrative tribunals including the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Environmental Review Tribunal, Landlord and Tenant Board, the Toronto Licensing Tribunal, the Assessment Review Board as well as Coroner’s Inquests.
The articling student experience with the Litigation Division is not limited to legal research. Students handle, with supervision, files on their own. This includes preparing pleadings, gathering evidence, conducting trials and hearings before the Small Claims Court and administrative tribunals, and arguing motions before the Small Claims Court and Superior Court. When working with other lawyers, students are exposed to every stage in the litigation process, including attending at examinations for discovery and mediations.
Did you know?
Defended challenges to City by-laws, including challenges to prohibitions against hookah smoking in cafes, the use of herbicides, the imposition of fees to reduce garbage, and taxation of advertising signs and billboards, including appearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Represent the police in numerous types of proceedings, including human rights proceedings, and coroner’s inquests.
Intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada three times in the last few years in cases involving the interaction between municipalities and federally regulated entities.
Enforce public health laws, including obtaining detention and treatment orders to stop the spread of serious communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.
- Defended major class-action claims, including claims arising from SARS, the Sunrise Propane explosion, and construction of the St. Clair Streetcar Right of Way.
Municipal government impacts the daily lives of citizens more directly than any other level of government. Just think about roads, parks, community centres and other public spaces, public health services, affordable housing and social services, garbage collection, recycling programs, fire, police and ambulance services, public libraries, snow removal and the water supplied to your home. The City of Toronto provides these services and more to its residents.
As the largest city in Canada, the City of Toronto also faces many complex issues relating to, for example, freedom of information, municipal elections, corporate governance, and municipal procurement.
Our municipal lawyers help the City work by giving legal advice on these and many other matters to the City’s Agencies, Boards, Commissions, Divisions and Accountability Officers, Toronto City Council and its Committees and Sub-Committees. Municipal lawyers are often in the thick of high profile issues. For example, Municipal lawyers are involved in advising on the funding, construction and operation of major transit and infrastructure projects such as the rehabilitation of the Gardiner Expressway and the Union Station Revitalization Project; navigating new technologies such as drones, autonomous vehicles and the sharing economy; the implementation of supervised injection services and the prohibition of hookah use in cafes and bars; environmental initiatives such as waste diversion, climate change adaptation and energy efficiency, and new related Provincial legislation and regulations; and the adoption of new ward boundaries. Municipal lawyers are also involved in complex financial issues related to the City’s $10.1 Billion operating budget and $21 Billion ten year capital plan, including the creation of new fees and taxes and other revenue generating tools.
We see our students as an integral part of our legal team, and we give them a high level of responsibility. During your municipal rotation, you may be asked to draft reports and by-laws to present to City Council, opinion letters, negotiated agreements and general correspondence. You will also have the opportunity to attend Board/Committee or client meetings to better understand the “why” behind your assignments.
Some of the issues you may deal with during your municipal law rotation concern:
- Powers and jurisdiction under the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and other municipal statutes
- The City’s taxing powers and property tax issues
- Charter, Constitutional and jurisdictional questions
- Balancing public transparency with confidentiality and protection of privacy under MFIPPA
- Information Technology and Telecommunications Matters
- Affordable Housing and Social Services
- Public Procurements such as RFPs, RFQs, Tenders and Public Private Partnerships
- Contract Interpretation
- Construction Agreements, Liens and Statutory Holdbacks
- Public Health Issues
- Intellectual Property Issues
Did you know?
- Worked with other City staff on the City’s ward boundary review and implementation.
- Provide advice to City staff on establishing safe injection sites.
- Assisted staff in the enforcement of zoning by-laws against illegal marijuana dispensaries and preparation for the legalization of cannabis.
- Negotiated and drafted licensing and stadium expansion agreements that brought the Toronto Argonauts and the Grey Cup to Exhibition Place.
- Advised on civil liberties and other issues relating to the use of public space.
- Negotiate with production companies for the use of City property and facilities in movies and television.
Real estate lawyers at the City enjoy being part of a large and knowledgeable team dealing with diverse and sophisticated real estate transactions in a uniquely urban structure. Our work ranges from agreements with small landowners or tenants to highly complex transactions involving exceptionally valuable properties in the urban core and surrounding areas. It is not uncommon for our real estate lawyers to see their transactions trending on social media, in the daily newspapers or on the local news stations.
As valued members of the Real Estate Law team, students will work with lawyers in providing advice to City Councillors, City Council and the City’s Committees, Agencies, Boards, Commissions and Departments. Students will gain valuable practical experience through exposure to some of the following:
- Negotiating and preparing legal documents for purchase and sale, expropriation, tax sales, easements, leasing, licensing and other property transactions, while ensuring compliance with bylaw and statutory requirements
- Preparing bylaws for presentation to City Council relating to real estate transactions
- Providing ongoing interpretation and advice to protect the interests of the City under existing real estate documents
- Researching and drafting legal opinions and reports to City Committees and Council
- Apprising City Council and its Agencies, Boards, Commissions and Departments of relevant changes in real property law affecting the City’s interests
- Participating in meetings with Councillors and client groups
Students will spend some time at the Land Registry Office, under the guidance of the conveyancing team, to learn about real property searches for real estate transactions, property standards, and release of construction holdbacks. Students will also learn how to register documents for all types of real estate transactions, Planning Act and Heritage Easement agreements, by-laws, discharges, and road closings.
Did you know?
- Deal with sales and leases of property on behalf of the City, the largest single owner of real estate within the geographical boundaries of the City of Toronto.
- Work to revitalize City-owned or City-managed cultural hot-spots, such as the Brick Works, St. Lawrence Market, BMO Field and the Bentway.
- Acquire stratified property rights for projects that vary from storm water diversion tunnels buried 50 metres below ground to the air rights for the proposed Rail Deck Park.
- Work closely with the Provincial and Federal governments on large-scale projects such as the creation of the Rouge National Urban Park, the first of its kind in Canada.
An unprecedented number of public transit projects are currently or soon to be underway in the City of Toronto, including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Sheppard East LRT, Finch West LRT, Scarborough LRT/Subway, and Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension projects. In 2010, the Transit Expansion Unit was assembled to acquire the multitude of property interests required for these projects. This interdisciplinary group is comprised of six lawyers, in addition to real estate, appraisal, conveyancing and support staff.
Many of the transit projects to be completed over the next decade in Toronto are funded by Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario created to improve transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. As such, lawyers in the Transit Expansion Unit have the unique experience of advising and working cooperatively with another level of government on a daily basis.
As part of the Real Estate Law and Planning and Administrative Tribunal Law rotations, articling students will have the opportunity to take on assignments from the Transit Expansion Unit. Students may assist with:
- Property purchase transactions
- Compensation arbitrations and hearings
- Associated research and drafting assignments
Working with the Transit Expansion Unit is an exciting opportunity for students to get involved in projects that will have positive impacts on the environment, the local economy and the daily experiences of those that live in, work in and visit Toronto.
Did you know?
- Have assisted Metrolinx in the acquisition of hundreds of property interests.
- Work closely with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to ensure that property acquisition for transit projects happens on time and on budget.
- Represent Metrolinx in claims for compensation related to expropriations.