Articling student “committed to providing access to justice”
Tuesday, March 19
A profile of Legal Aid Ontario’s Ely-Anna Hidalgo
Right from the start, Ely-Anna Hidalgo quickly learned that a large amount of responsibility is entrusted to articling students at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO).
“I’m committed to the principle of providing access to justice to underserved populations.”
– Ely-Anna Hidalgo
During her first week at the Toronto Family Law Service Centre located downtown, Ely-Anna recalls assisting manager, Lisa Bernstein, who asked her to sit in on a settlement conference.
Ely-Anna was later able to work on an urgent responding affidavit for a motion for access and case conference brief on this particular file. When the lawyer on the other side became ill, Ely-Anna was also given the responsibility of adjourning the case conference.
Ely-Anna firmly believes that Lisa’s practice of empowering her to take responsibility has helped her with her practice skills.
“Approachable, supportive mentors during the articling process can make all the difference in the world,” Ely-Anna says. “Lisa and I regularly discussed the files I was working on so she could ensure I maintained a balanced workload.”
As she neared the end of her articling journey in February 2013, Ely-Anna reflected on the hands-on experience she had gained in diverse areas of law, noting how each rotation had assigned distinct, but equally rewarding responsibilities.
Applying to LAO made sense to Ely-Anna
While attending Osgoode Hall Law School, Ely-Anna volunteered with the school’s clinic as well as Pro Bono Students Canada Family Law Project. The latter offered an opportunity for student volunteers to work with LAO duty counsel and support staff at family law courts and Family Law Information Centres.
It wasn’t a far stretch for Ely-Anna to consider applying to LAO. Furthering social justice had always been a passion.
“I’m committed to the principle of providing access to justice to underserved populations,” she says.
Ely-Anna was ecstatic when she learned she was accepted into the program. She started work at LAO back in April 2012 and says the articling program has exceeded her expectations.
“Knowing that I play a role in facilitating access to the legal system has had a deep impact on me,” she notes.
While she feels all of her experiences have been rewarding, she cites assisting with a Hague Convention application as a particularly exciting learning experience – mainly because it was so unexpected. Besides researching and assisting with the factum and the examination for discovery, Ely-Anna was also lucky enough to attend the matter.
She cites this type of direct experience as one of the many ways in which LAO’s articling program exceeded her expectations. Whether it was appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board, conducting legal research, interviewing clients, adjourning matters or attending court proceedings, Ely-Anna developed a wide range of skills.
Ely-Anna feels fortunate to have had such a wonderful experience at LAO. Now that she has completed her articles Ely-Anna has been hired by LAO to provide litigation support work for the Southwest Region & Specialty Clinic department.
“I’m committed to further developing my skills,” she says. “I feel that LAO is the best environment for doing this.”
Ely-Anna will be called to the bar in June.
Get more information
For further information on working for LAO, contact LAO’s Human Resources toll-free at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-800-668-8258.