As this year’s hire-back numbers continue to roll in from law firms across Toronto, we here at PrecedentJD couldn’t help but notice the surge in first-year hiring at Stikeman Elliott LLP. Out of its 24-person articling cohort, it hired back 22 students to start as first-year associates this September. (The remaining two opted out.) This is a sizeable jump. In the past three years, the firm has hired back between 13 and 16 articling students out of a smaller pool of candidates (between 17 and 20 each year).
What makes that spike particularly interesting, though? Well, since 2009, Toronto’s largest 16 law firms have scaled back their associate hiring. From 2009 to 2016, the total number of articling gigs at these firms plunged from 337 to 255. Their first-year hireback numbers, in turn, dropped from 218 to 188. So Stikeman Elliott’s big year of hiring bucks that downward trend.
One reason that hiring on Bay Street has dipped is the still-sluggish post-recession economy. Meanwhile, firms have started to outsource document review and due diligence, grunt work that they have traditionally assigned to articling students and associates.
Over at Stikeman Elliott, though, things are looking up. “The simple reason that we had a strong hireback is because we’ve been quite busy,” explains Susan Pak, the firm’s director of student programs and professional development. With more work coming down the pipe, the firm will need more bodies at the office. “Fortunately we were able to hire back all of the students.”