Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Student-At-Law: The Goal this Year

...we are collectively calmer, more confident, and more willing to ask questions.

Last year as a summer student, I contributed to the student blog with a piece that started with “I don’t know anything”. It was a blog entry written with nerves and soaked in confusion. It was about navigation and survival and adaptation. As a group, the students who summered last year simply wanted to do their best work. The newness of every experience was lightning fast.

That same group of students is back again, except our signatures are scribbled above "Student-at-Law". We have been articling now for one month, and I can honestly say that things feel different. Don't get me wrong -- we still only know 1% of 1% of what it means to be a lawyer. But I've noticed that each of my peers has returned to the firm with a different mindset. Our group works just as hard, if not harder, but we are collectively calmer, more confident, and more willing to ask questions.

We aren't the only ones who have changed. Last year, the lawyers at the firm were focused on teaching us Law 101. Here is how you draft an affidavit. This is where you go when your name isn't on the motions list. This is what to do when attending an examination for discovery.

 This year, the lawyers at the firm are even more vested in our success. On our first day of articles, we were greeted by Howard Borlack - one of the founding partners at McCague Borlack - who impressed upon us the importance of articling, not only as a teaching tool but as a responsibility and a tradition. Our principals, as well as many other lawyers, have made it clear that they want to set us up for the future. The goal, we have been told, is to instill fundamental legal competencies so that we are ready to practice law the moment we are called to the Bar. That includes not just research and writing, but also client interaction and practice management.

The idea that I will be a self-sufficient lawyer one day is terrifyingly distant, but also equally worthy of pursuit. I hope one day that I can support and guide new students in the same way that the lawyers and my peers at McCague Borlack have done, and continue to do, for me.
Ben C.