What are You Looking for in Your Articling Experience?

At Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, we believe that the articling experience sets the tone of your professional life, and defines the path that your legal career will follow.

Our Ottawa-based firm offers you a challenging and rewarding articling program, with a focus on your career and professional development as you work towards becoming a new lawyer. We have a unique articling program to ensure that our students learn as many practical skills as possible in preparation for their Call to the Bar.

Deciding where you want to article is one of the most significant decisions you will make in your career. It is important to consider not only your long-term career objectives, but also the quality of life you would like to enjoy.

Watch as our articling students of 2017-2018 Rachelle Bastarache and Sarah Clowater and our lawyers Craig O’Brien and Natasha Chettiar share their articling experiences with the firm.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP is an innovative and progressive firm that prides itself on being open and informal. This means that although we are a leading full-service law firm, our students and lawyers work on a wide range of high-profile matters for a diverse client base, and we maintain the qualities and family atmosphere of a smaller firm.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP is considered one of Ottawa’s premier law firms. The firm was established in 1963 and has grown from two to over 50 lawyers.Approximately 48% of our lawyers are female. In addition, we have 15 law clerks, 4 articling students, and approximately 75 other staff members.We are located on the 3rd floor of 50 O’Connor Street, at the corner of O’Connor and Albert streets in Ottawa.From its inception, Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP has always strived for excellence, and has earned the respect of our clients, the community, and the legal profession. The growth of the firm can be attributed to the quality of our work and our clients’ satisfaction. Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP lawyers are identified as individuals who know the law, and are prompt and approachable. Our clients have rewarded this dedication by giving us more work and by encouraging others to seek our services.Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP is an integral part of the Ottawa community, providing innovative, client-oriented solutions to a diverse local and national client base. Our client list includes individuals, small and medium size businesses, entrepreneurs, professional organizations, insurance companies, financial institutions, condominium corporations, and local and national labour unions and associations.Our goal at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP is to provide all of our clients, regardless of their size, with the highest quality professional standards in every aspect of our business.

Are you looking for a law firm that offers you the opportunity of challenging work in a supportive environment with an exceptional and diverse legal team?

Nelligan O’Brien Payne typically looks to its summer students as its source for articling students. Visit Application Process – Summer 2018 for more information on details and deadlines.

If you are a student, and have any questions about the articling or summer student program, please do not hesitate to contact our current Director of Research, David Contant by email or telephone at:

From the Ottawa area: 613-231-8354 or 613-231-8240

Anywhere else in Canada: 1-888-565-9912

If you wish to contact any of our current articling students, please call us at 613-238-8080 or feel free to email us.

We recruit students who, in addition to having performed well academically, have demonstrated leadership qualities and community involvement. We look for individuals who are dynamic, highly motivated, and who have developed exceptional interpersonal and communications skills.

Our students, although diverse in background and experience, tend to be cohesive as a group, and often assist each other in completing their respective tasks.

Extensive time and planning goes into ensuring that the focus of the program is on the professional development of the student. Although our students are expected to contribute to the firm by conducting research, we ensure that each student has a broad exposure to all facets of law practice.

We have a unique program to ensure that our students learn as many practical skills as possible during their articling year. These include participating in and conducting interviews with clients and witnesses, preparing witness statements, arguing express motions, attending settlement conferences, or attending examinations for discovery.

We also make a concerted effort to involve students in substantive, meaningful work. As a student of Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, you are considered a capable professional and will be given significant responsibility on files. We encourage our students to take an active role and to find pragmatic solutions to our clients’ needs. We believe that a hands-on approach is essential to learning and understanding the practice of law, and will assist our students in making informed decisions about the direction of their legal careers.

At Nelligan O’Brien Payne, we recognize that the legal world can be demanding. We strive to maintain an atmosphere predicated on work-life balance and a great social atmosphere for all our staff and students. Our students are given a budget to host an office social on the last Friday of every month. Nelligan O’Brien Payne also participates in many charitable and social activities throughout the year, emphasizing early on in our students’ legal career the importance of staying active in the community.

Students share interior office space where each student has their own work station. All work stations are equipped with two screens and standing desks.

We have recently moved into a newly designed office space as featured in Best Offices Ottawa 2017, a publication by the Ottawa Business Journal.  For a closer look, see a virtual tour here.

Students at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP are provided with a variety of resources.

Director of Research

One of the most important support services provided to articling students at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP is the assistance of our Director of Research.

The current Director of Research, David Contant coordinates all aspects of our student programs. David provides our students with the support, supervision and resources they need to succeed at articling.

When a lawyer requires research on a file, it is usually referred through David. He selects the most appropriate articling student for the project, based on factors such as workload and areas of interest. David’s strong research skills, expertise, and guidance help our students find the right information quickly and efficiently. The Director of Research coordinates the student program and provide research support to our students and lawyers by assisting with challenging research tasks.


Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP maintains its own library, which contains extensive materials covering our areas of practice, and has an in-house librarian. We maintain subscriptions to many online legal research resources. In addition, the Courthouse Library is only five minutes away, for any reference materials that may be unavailable in our on-site library.

To help students determine their preferred area(s) of practice, the firm strives to provide our students with a basic overview of each primary area of practice.

We rotate our articling students through four rotations: 1) litigation, 2) labour and employment, 3) family, and 4) a combined IP/corporate/real estate rotation. Each rotation lasts two months, with an opportunity to engage in hands-on opportunities unique to that practice area. These opportunities can include running a small claims trial, representing clients at settlement conferences, observing examinations for discovery, participating in mediations, among many others. The rotations are not rigid, however, and our Directors of Research ensure that each student can work in practice areas where they have an interest.

Summer students do not participate in rotations, given the time constraints, but will still be exposed to each area of law practiced at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, and be given hands-on experiences based on the files they engage in.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP is committed to its student training program.

Each year the firm develops a seminar series designed to introduce the students to the general practice of law, as well as to the firm’s particular areas of expertise. Lawyers from different practice areas speak to the students in an informal environment, offering advice and information about their practices and law in general.

Nelligan also hosts our own in-house continuing legal education program, called Kaizen University courses. These courses are hosted once a month by a partner and an associate, and address different forms of oral and written advocacy. They are hosted in small, informal settings making it much easier for students to ask questions.

Students are also invited to attend the group meetings in the various practice areas. These meetings are intended to be educational – recent developments in the law will be discussed, difficult legal questions canvassed, and ethical issues raised for discussion.

Our students are also given funding to attend educational experiences outside of the firm, such as Ontario Bar Association events and the Advocacy Boot Camp.

Further, we provide our articling students with over seventy-five hours of professional development time. During this time, students may attend and participate in a variety of law-related experiences of interest to them, such as a trial or arbitration, or conferences/seminars on legal issues. This does not include time spent assisting lawyers in discoveries or helping with files.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP has also developed an in-house mentoring program, where partners or senior associates volunteer to be teamed up with an articling student. In addition to organized social outings, mentor and mentees also meet informally on a regular basis to discuss student progress and any concerns, either work-related or personal, that the students may have during their year.

We have also created an internal student advocacy program, which includes a full mock civil trial, with participation and feedback from lawyers within the firm. The trial is a half-day event that takes place each year at the Ottawa Courthouse. The advocacy program is intended as a tool to assist the students and to provide them with a hands-on learning experience in which firm lawyers will help the students improve their advocacy skills.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP offers students competitive salaries and a comprehensive benefit package that includes insurance coverage (major medical, dental, prescription drugs, eyewear, travel). Coverage begins immediately upon the commencement of each student’s employment.

To further our commitment to work-life balance, our students are also given three weeks paid vacation and three days of family responsibility leave.

The firm also pays all expenses associated with enrollment in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Lawyer Licensing Process.

  1. Be authentic.
  2. Do what you love and love what you do.
  3. Make the place you work the place you want to work.
  4. Take vacations.
  5. When you work, work. When you don’t work, don’t work.
  6. Look after yourself – you will have more to give. But remember how much you get back through giving to others.
  7. Recognize that you probably have more control over events in your life than you realize.
  8. Get a fan club, and be part of someone else’s fan club. We all need some cheering from time to time.
  9. Never accept that the way things are is the way they have to be.
  10. Change the world.
We pride ourselves on the quality of our articling program. We work hard to design a program that is geared toward developing strong, well-rounded lawyers. But don’t just take our word for it – our students’ satisfaction speaks for itself. We host a confidential review survey each year among our articling students. Here are some of the things our past students have had to say:

From what I have heard from friends, the articling experience at Nelligan O’Brien Payne is unparalleled. Students get all the benefits of articling at a large firm (legal research tools, varied work assignments and a rich educational program) while enjoying the culture and feel of a much smaller firm (work/life balance, a friendly, collegial atmosphere and a true “open-door” policy from the most junior associates to the most senior partners). The program focuses on providing practical experience and exposure, and on developing students to become good lawyers.

“Articling at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP allows you to achieve the best of all possible worlds – great legal experience and a balanced lifestyle. It doesn’t get better than that. Most importantly, the atmosphere and the people at the firm are incredible.”

“My articling experience at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP has been invaluable. I have gained significant practical experience and insight into what the practice of law in the private sector is all about. My work has been challenging and interesting throughout the year. I am quite appreciative of the considerable responsibilities I was entrusted with as well as the independence which I was afforded in carrying out my duties.”

“I was impressed by the amount of trust and respect given to students and the fact that we are involved in some very high profile and important matters. The work has all been very interesting and challenging and the year has flown by really quickly. I do think I had one of the best experiences an articling student could ask for.”

“An excellent experience all-around.”

“The articling experience at Nelligan’s is comparable to no other. A lot of time and effort is put into the program to ensure that the students get a good articling experience. Nelligan’s really tries to provide the students with the basic tools necessary to practice law whether here or elsewhere. This is very appreciated.”

“Nelligan’s is also very good at thanking the students for their work and making them feel like a valued member of the team which makes all the difference in the world!”

“I am so happy I chose to do my articles with Nelligan’s. The legal and professional mentorship I received was more than I could have hoped for. I was given the opportunity to work on projects from so many different areas of law and to work with a wonderful group of supportive lawyers, staff and fellow articling students.”