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Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP has its offices at 201 Portage Avenue at the corner of Portage & Main. Our approximately 88 lawyers are assisted by a staff of 100, including paralegals, legal assistants, accounting staff, title searchers, systems operations, a marketing department, a librarian and personnel administrators.
Our firm maintains three full-time offices, including one located in Brandon and one in Portage la Prairie. We also have four satellite offices in smaller communities around the province.
Our objective in hiring students is to identify individuals who will join the firm, initially as associates and, ultimately becoming our partners. We hire students with the intention of developing them into excellent lawyers. The offers extended to students to stay on with the firm as associates have historically reflected the firm’s objective to retain students who will carry on the firm’s tradition of excellence. Our Marketing Department helps lawyers to build their practice by offering a wide range of marketing and professional development support.
Areas of Practice
We serve a variety of small and large, local, national and international clients. The practice of law at TDS is diverse, challenging and personally rewarding. Most of our lawyers restrict their practices to specific areas, while several carry on very broad practices. Further information on our 20+ areas of practice can be obtained from the Practice section of our website.
The Articling Year
We provide our students with extensive practical experience and regular exposure to clients and to other lawyers so that their legal and interpersonal skills can be appropriately developed and assessed. Each articling student is assigned to a small group of lawyers for the year who act as “principals” and we aim to provide each student with principals who practice in different fields. We believe that this is superior to a “rotation” system, as it allows articling students better opportunities to build relationships with their principals and to maintain continuity with files. It also fosters a collegial atmosphere among students. Mentorship is a key value during the articling year and beyond. We give students an appropriate level of responsibility, and we ensure that they have the necessary assistance and support that is required in order to properly complete the work that they have been assigned. Regular meetings are held among our students and the firm’s Articling Committee to provide continual feedback with respect to performance, in addition to the ongoing feedback received directly from principals. Our practice of open-door access to lawyers, which continues long after the Call to the Bar, is just one feature of the firm’s collegial approach to the practice of law which is of great benefit to students.
Students commence their articles in mid-June. We pay our articling students a salary which is competitive with other large downtown Winnipeg firms. The fees for the CPLED program are paid by the firm, and the firm pays Law Society practising fees and Call to the Bar fees for those students who are retained as associates. Our articling students are entitled to participate in the firm’s group insurance benefits package, which includes health, dental and disability insurance coverage.
TDS provides lawyers and students with access to a wide variety of research tools including our multi-floor library and research area, online research tools such as Quicklaw, Carswell and others. TDS uses sophisticated document management software and Client Relationship Management (CRM) software to provide quick and easy access to client and research information.
The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) Course
Many of the lawyers in our firm participate in various segments of the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (“CPLED”) course, and we recognize the demanding nature of the course and its workload. We believe that it is important to both the student and the firm that the student devotes the required time to the CPLED course and the assignments. We consider attendance at the in-person segments to be compulsory, and we make every effort to ensure that the student’s workload does not conflict with the requirements of the CPLED course.
Professional Development Training
Along with frequent in-house seminars, TDS encourages students to attend outside CLE programs, including webinars, and pays the fees for such programs.
Number of Students
We are looking to hire up to 6 students for our Winnipeg office.
Our Firm Culture
One of the advantages of working with a large firm such as TDS, is that students benefit from having access to larger and more sophisticated clients. Our transactions provide an opportunity to gain experience with matters involving other Canadian jurisdictions and our Manitoba-exclusive membership with Lex Mundi extends our reach internationally.
Certain myths exist among law students with respect to larger law firms, one being that larger firms are impersonal organizations. This misconception ignores the fact that law firms are comprised of individuals, with differing interests and personalities. The greater the number of individuals in the firm, the more interesting and well-balanced the firm becomes. The lawyers in our firm are very approachable and make a conscious effort to provide any required assistance to students. TDS students have access to a broad base of experience and expertise.
Although we do not deny that we (together with all other firms) expect our students to work hard, we have many social, sporting and professional opportunities over the course of the year to get to know our lawyers. Our firm has a team in the lawyers’ hockey and soccer leagues. As well, a significant number of the lawyers in the firm participate in events such as the Manitoba Bar Association Golf Tournament, our own annual golf tournament, the Manitoba Marathon, and in cultural endeavours such as the Manitoba Bar Association/Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre fundraising plays and musicals. Our lawyers are active in the community as volunteers and board members of organizations such as the Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Rainbow Society, Rainbow Stage and the Family Centre of Winnipeg. Our firm also reflects the diversity of our larger community. We have lawyers who are active in the Portuguese, Italian, Jewish, and Franco-Manitoban communities.
Practice Building Support
During the first two years as associates, the primary focus is learning the practice of law. After two years from the Call to the Bar, we encourage associates to start thinking about practice building. Initially the main focus is on internal marketing with our partners, and over time associates place a greater focus on external marketing and business development.
TDS has an extensive range of marketing and business development tools and resources. This support is available to all associates and can be customized to each associate's needs. The goal is to provide all of the tools, resources and support possible for every aspiring rainmaker.
TDS Lawyers Speak About the TDS Student Programs
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One of the primary purposes of the process upon which you are about to embark is to ensure that you receive complete and accurate information about the firms involved so that you can make an informed decision about where you would prefer to article. Further information on our Articling Student Program can be obtained from Lisa Stiver, Chair of the firm’s Articling Committee at 204.934.2375 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our Facebook page dedicated to law students by going to www.tdslaw.com/facebook.