Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Top 5 Articling Experiences

My time as a summer student at McCague Borlack last year went by so quickly that I didn't have a chance to reflect on my experiences until it was over. As one co-worker so aptly put it, as a summer student you’re there just long enough to figure out exactly how much you don’t know.

...it feels pretty cool to flash your LSUC card and bypass the security line at the courthouse.

Now we have an entire 10 months for articles and even that is flying by! So, in honour of being almost half-way through, I will reflect on my top 5 experiences thus far (in no particular order).


Drafting motion materials and arguing a motion yourself gives you the chance to see why it is so important that you know a particular Rule inside and out, research the caselaw, get all your dates in order, and so on. Most importantly, arguing motions gives you a chance to engage in real advocacy and, as a budding litigator, it’s an excellent feeling! Also, it feels pretty cool to flash your LSUC card and bypass the security line at the courthouse.

Client Contact

During my OCI interview with MB, I was promised a hands-on experience and this has proven to be true from the very first day of work. As an articling student, I communicate directly with clients on a daily basis regarding updates, opinions on the file, and of course, instructions. I have found that both co-workers and clients are genuinely interested in my opinion. I’m often asked to assess damages and/or liability and then to discuss it with the client. I've had the opportunity to run lead on files from start to end, and nothing gives you a better idea of what it’s like to be a real lawyer than that.

Firm Events

This year MB celebrates its 20th anniversary with 20 special events, which included a boat cruise for the whole firm. The work environment at MB is always friendly and the cruise was a great opportunity to enjoy time with my co-workers outside of the office. As an articling student, you can quickly get caught up in your work and forget to take the time to enjoy the experience, and the boat cruise allowed us to do just that.


As a summer student, I went on discoveries and enjoyed seeing the process first-hand. However, only now as an articling student with more involvement in files do I have an appreciation of the importance of discoveries. With settlement becoming more common, discoveries play a critical role in assessing liability and damages at an early stage and have shown me that every question has a purpose. It has also allowed me to observe different styles of questioning (are you in the “catch more flies with honey” camp or the “direct and to the point” camp?) and in turn develop my own style. (I am leaning toward the former.)

Student Group

Lawyers often speak of articling as if it’s war. Articling can be tough and there is definitely a learning curve, but it makes all the difference when you have good people to go through the trenches with. I’m thankful to work with a great group of students. Have an urgent assignment due and need to take yourself out of the work rotation? No problem. Have dinner plans and need a second set of eyes to help review documents so you can leave on time? Someone will be there to help.

To all upcoming articling students: Articling isn't just a tough time that you have to get through; it’s a time to learn a lot, try new things, and enjoy yourself along the way.
Sarah B.