Jodie Shupac, National Post · Jun. 30, 2012 | Last Updated: Jun. 30, 2012 5:03 AM ET

The worry in her voice belies the feat of having just survived three gruelling years of Toronto law school. Meghan Ward (not her real name), freshly graduated, hasn’t yet found an articling position – the pre-licence requirement for Canadian lawyers in which a 10-month apprenticeship is done under the supervision of a practising lawyer – despite having applied to roughly 20 Toronto firms.

Her callback rate has been high; several smaller firms have even expressed interest in taking her on, but are unable to pay. “I can’t afford to work for free,” Ward says.

She knows she can’t be the only one in her cohort without a placement, but the intense secrecy surrounding the process makes it particularly isolating: “You don’t really know who [from class] doesn’t have a job, because nobody wants to talk about it – it’s kind of taboo. And people who have jobs will talk about them, so it feels like everyone does.”

Smart, likeable and a good student, Ward is nonetheless a casualty of what the Law Society of Upper Canada has dubbed Ontario’s “articling shortage,” and she is far from alone.

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