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Student Programs

Student Programs for Criminal Law Students

Derstine Penman ordinarily hires two summer and two articling students in a given year.


Student Programs

If you are interested in a law firm that features dedication to client service, a culture of teamwork and a strong commitment to criminal vigorous defence work, consider a career at Derstine Penman.

General Overview

We aim to develop students into highly successful yet ethically conscientious trial lawyers. Students are given a wide range of responsibilities designed to develop advocacy skills and ensure familiarity with the intimate workings of the criminal justice system.  By the end of the program, students will have a firm grasp of the black letter law, as well as extensive experience in the different phases of the criminal process.


“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I understand.” – Chinese Proverb

At Derstine Penman, we believe that students will most effectively learn the art of criminal defence through hands-on work.  Our students are deeply involved with the firm’s Criminal Code, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and Provincial Offences Act cases. Students are entrusted with the responsibilities of:

  • conducting trials and pleas for summary and Provincial Offences Act matters
  • regularly attending court for administrative (“set”) dates
  • visiting clients at jails, detention centres, and courthouse cells across Ontario reviewing disclosure
  • organizing files for trial
  • interviewing sureties and witnesses
  • legal research
  • drafting factums, memorandums, defence motions, and applications
  • additional investigation (for example: attending crime scenes in search of evidence favourable to the defence)
  • handling intake calls from prospective clients

Working with Counsel

Students are given the opportunity to work with associates and partners on files involving large scale police “projects”, murders, robberies (including home invasions), firearms offences, cultivation, aggravated assault, and much more.

By working closely with counsel, students will gain important insight into trial strategy, the practical realities of procedure, and how to effectively approach the Crown and the judiciary. Students are also invited to see the fruits of their labour by attending court with Counsel. Our students have attend bail hearings, preliminary inquiries, jury selection, trials, and sentencing hearings to see their work put to use.


“The worst question is the one that isn’t asked.” – Dirk Derstine at one of our office meetings

Students are encouraged to ask questions and seek advice from our lawyers. The associates and partners always keep their door and minds open to anything that our students have to say.


If you would like to be a Derstine Penman student, please send your cover letter, resumé, transcripts, and reference letters to our office manager.

Applications can be sent by email to or in hardcopy form to 559 College Street, Suite 302, Toronto, ON, M6G 1A9.  We also accept applications through the viLawPortal.  Please only apply through one of these given avenues.

We look forward to hearing from you!