Myths About the MAAPPS – JD Program and the 2L Summer Process

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and the entire 2nd year summer article recruitment process. Now is probably as good a time as any to reflect on how recruiting went and how classes are going in the dual MAAPPS – Law program before December exam prep begins and life gets crazy.

I want to start by saying I am fortunate enough to have landed a second year summer with a large national firm with one of the strongest Asia-Pacific legal practices in Vancouver. Another bonus is that I’ll be working with fellow blogger, Rebecca Coad. Check out her blogs too!

Myth #1: The dual degree’s requirement to do a 2-4 month practicum makes it impossible to summer second year at a law firm downtown.

It’s possible, and I’m looking forward to it. The MAAPPS program provides students a chance to write a thesis or a practicum. For those interested in practicing law, and basically those not interested in a career in academia, the practicum is the way to go. My senior in 3L, Theressa Etmanski, just completed her practicum working in a human rights tribunal in Cambodia. I came off a stint (for fun) at one of the 3 national law firms in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I am beginning to brainstorm some exciting practicum opportunities.

The only issue is that it’s often expected to be done in the summer of 2L. You may think this is a scheduling conflict; luckily several of the firms downtown don’t think so.

Throughout the recruiting process, I’ve asked about the possibility of splitting the 4 month summer in half, two with the firm, and two doing my practicum. Most firms have been receptive to this idea. Of course, they would much prefer that you do the practicum at the end of your law degree (April – August of 3L) prior to beginning articles. This may, however, mean that you graduate in November with both degrees. I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to graduate with my law buddies in May. Stay tuned.

Myth #2: If I do my practicum instead of summering, I will be in a better position for attaining articles in 3L.

This is a highly contentious opinion, but here’s my sense after speaking with the law firm recruiters for the past few months: if you have a summer offer at a firm that you like (maybe it has cool people, swivel chairs and a window, or more rationally, it does good Asia Pacific work), do that before your practicum.

Presumably, you’re interested in the dual program because you are interested in pursuing an Asia Pacific legal practice. In Vancouver, the firms best at this practice area, in terms of clients, size and type of files, and expertise, tend to be the big national firms. These national firms adhere to predominantly filling their articling positions with students who spent the summer with them in 2L. Consequently, many of these seats are filled already before you begin your search in 3L. It would be prudent to secure your summer/articling spot early (there’s a lot of peace of mind that comes with it) and then go off to do the practicum (which has no rigid recruitment process, timelines, or competition to worry about).

Most interestingly:

Myth #3: Being in the dual degree program got you a summer job. Win.

I want to say yes to this, but that wouldn’t be the whole story. Being in the dual degree program, particularly when the firms interview you 1-2 months into it, does not really mean anything much…yet. I say “yet” because firms are looking for potential (having one year of law under our belts doesn’t mean that much more either). In dual degree students, however, they see individuals willing to work hard for something  (as if law school isn’t hard enough), taking time to spend studying issues important to them and the rest of the world (it is a degree in the Asia Pacific after all). Being in the dual degree doesn’t make you an all-star automatically, but I think it shows that you have all the tools and determination to become one with time. For firms with a 5 year strategy to generate more business from Asia, you’ll definitely get more attention. For firms that are more regionally based, they may give you a pat on the back for your work ethic. The key is demonstrating to the firms you are interested in that you can, and if given the chance, will be a fantastic addition given your formal training in policy analysis.

Myth #4: I’m already in 1L. It’s too late to join this cool dual program.

Lies. The beauty of the dual MAAPPS program is its flexibility, and the fact that it is designed to start the MAAPPS component at the beginning of 2L. So you have not missed anything, and in fact, you have probably saved yourself some tuition money too, as the dual program (like law) is charged by the number of years taken to study, as opposed to credits (like in undergrad).

The application deadline is January 15, 2012. Here is a link to the application details and requirements:

If you have any questions about the program, you may always feel free to contact me directly: <>.

In my next installment, I’ll talk about the different studying approaches needed to do well in law versus MAAPPS.

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