The MB articling students are officially seven months into our articling term, with only three months left.
"Now is the perfect time for us to reflect on our experiences so far
and take inventory of the things we have learned."
If I were to pass three lessons on to incoming and future summer and articling students, I believe the following advice will have the most impact.
1. Take the time to learn
Remember that we are still students. We are allowed, and expected, to learn, grow, and make mistakes throughout the course of our articling experience. No one is expecting us to know how to do everything perfectly on our first day, or even ten months into articles. Like law school, articling is a learning process where we are invited to explore new things, make mistakes, learn from our mistakes, and try again.
2. No one expects perfection
That brings me to the second lesson I have learned which is – as cliché as it may sound – each mistake we make is a learning opportunity. This phrase is particularly applicable during summering and articling terms.
When we aim for perfection and put our best efforts into each task we are assigned, it is hard to not feel defeated when a lawyer takes a red pen to it. Likewise, when we get busy, it is easier to click “accept all changes” than to actually go through the document, learn what was changed, and ask why. However, much more is gained from taking the time to review our errors and reflect on the constructive criticism we receive. When we take this time, we create an opportunity for ourselves to do better next time by applying what we learned from our past to our future. With practice, we start seeing less of that red pen and more “good job”s.
3. You are smart and capable
Finally, and perhaps most important, be prepared to discover that you are smarter and more capable than you think. As a summer and articling student, you will face a steep learning curve, confronting new tasks that you have never before considered, let alone have the first idea of how to approach. This feeling can be daunting.
At times at McCague Borlack, I have felt like the lawyers have more faith in me than I have in myself. For example, on occasion, I have been tasked with assignments that, at first, I feel like I have no business completing. But with the right resources and mentoring, I learned that I am actually more capable than I thought, which inspires me to approach the next daunting task with more confidence.
These three things are easy to know, but much more difficult to keep top-of-mind during summering and articling. We are busy and often put pressure on ourselves to excel. I strongly believe that these three tips would have served me well throughout my summering term and articles, both in terms of my well being and work-product, had I been more alert to them all along.
In passing them on, I hope they will be helpful to you as you embark on yours!