Law School's links with Canadian alumni lead to articling placement in Toronto
30 August 2018
The strength of Kent Law School's ongoing links with its alumni in Canada led to a summer of work experience and an articling placement for Mark Lauriola who is now employed at the offices of Law School alumna Sarita Samaroo-Tsaktsiris in Toronto.
Both Mark and Sarita studied the Law School's two-year Senior Status LLB; Mark graduated from Kent in 2016 and Sarita graduated in 2005. Sarita is now Principal of her own real estate law firm, SST Law Professional Corporation, and Mark is her first articling student.
Mark first applied for a summer of work experience at Sarita's firm during his studies at Kent thanks to the support of the Law School's dedicated Employability and Career Development Officer Jayne Instone. Jayne's weekly bulletins detail placement and networking opportunities at home and abroad for the diverse international student body at Kent.
Mark said: 'In the second half of my first year at Kent I began to become familiar with how Canadian firms did their hiring and tried to build a network through the research. In the meantime, Jayne was constantly sending emails to facilitate networking to former Kent students. This made it easier to meet Canadian lawyers who previously attended Kent Law School.'
Mark was tenacious in seeking further work experience with SST Law, an approach which Sarita endorses: 'My advice would be to never give up looking for the right placement for you. It is so fundamental that law students find the right fit and a law office where they can thrive and learn something new every day, as well as feel a sense of satisfaction that they are truly contributing to the files and making a difference with their involvement for the clients.'
Mark's hard work and dedication paid off and he was ultimately accepted as an Articling Student by Sarita. But before taking up his 10-month articling placement, Mark (like all Canadian students who complete a UK law degree) was required to demonstrate his competence to the country's National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). Mark prepared for this by completing an LLM at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 2017. Mark said: 'I was able to complete my accreditation but also complete a few other courses to graduate. The LLM simplifies a lot of what you have to study to become accredited. I would recommend looking into and applying to the program.'
Mark found his critical legal studies at Kent, together with his experiences at Kent Law Clinic, to be excellent preparation for both his LLM and his work at SST Law: 'I thought the Law School's curriculum helped focus my mind on how to write a legal style essay, how to complete problem questions, and how to complete legal research. I was able to transfer the skills learned at Kent to Osgoode. The Kent Law Clinic also helped in allowing me to apply the skills to the real world through case research and interacting with clients at SST Law.'
Sarita also values her experiences at Kent: 'Kent provided me with the foundation of complex and analytical learning. I felt better prepared and the confidence leaving Kent Law School knowing I had the skills and tools to be able to apply them to my own practice.'
After graduating from Kent, Sarita continued her studies at the University of New Brunswick and received her Certificate of Qualification in Law from the NCA in 2008. She undertook work experience and an Articling Placement at a large Bay Street law firm in Toronto and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2012. In the same year, she opened her own practice which focuses on real estate, business and estate law.
Sarita has found her first experience of being an Articling Principal to be rewarding and has enjoyed watching Mark develop into a practitioner. Over the next few years, Sarita plans to expand her firm regionally within the provice of Ontario and then nationally, within Canada: 'I plan on taking on more articling students, especially those Canadian law students from Kent to help expand my firm to bring it to the next level.'
Although Mark doubts he can still fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a professional soccer player (!), he does hope to continue as an Associate at SST Law. Thanks to his first-year studies in corporate law at Kent with Dr Iain Frame, Mark hopes to combine both his interest and expertise in real estate law with his passion for corporate law.
Mark is keen to encourage other Canadian students who are studying their law degrees in the UK and hoping to practice law in Canada: 'In all honesty, there will be hurdles but it is possible to overcome those and you can do it. Try hard to get your first opportunity wherever in Canada and go from there. Any experience is good experience. With some luck you'll be fine. I'm always happy to help Canadian Kent Students, especially in Ontario if they have any further questions on this.'
Image credit: Melanie Webster