Friday, 5 June 2015

Orientation Week: Summer Students 2015

It has been said at least twice in previous blogs that the weeks leading up to the first day as a summer student are a mix of anticipation and anxiety. I couldn’t agree more. In my case, my anxiety increased the closer I got to my start date. I loved that students at McCague Borlack get lots of responsibility, but it struck me how little I knew about the tasks that I might be assigned. I didn’t know if I could handle everything.

...my anxiety increased
the closer I got to
my start date...

Thankfully, the transition from law school to law firm was as gentle as it could possibly have been. For three days, all of the summer students were taught the practical side of being a lawyer, such as how to docket and manage files, as well as substantive legal concepts, like civil procedure and the basics of insurance law. Each lesson was taught by a different person, all of whom told us that we could come to them, or anyone else, with any questions that we had. In fact, that was a theme of this week. Nearly everyone we have met has reassured us that they are happy to answer any questions we have.

When training ended, it became clear that this was not just something people said. When I was given my first assignment, one of the articling students explained to me exactly how to do it, gave me an example to follow, and gave me feedback before I submitted it. When I met with the assigning lawyer before I started the assignment, he not only gave me a little more detail on what he needed me to do, he also explained to me an aspect of accident benefits that I had been struggling with. When I was given small claims files, the articling student who transferred them to me explained exactly what was happening in the proceedings and what I would need to do next.

As promised, the work has been hands-on, but manageable. In addition to the work distributed through the student email list, more than half of the summer students, including myself, have attended discoveries with lawyers. Two of the eight students have attended motions. Many of us have been given carriage of small claims files; at least one of mine will likely have a settlement conference scheduled for this summer.

The articling students in particular have been a tremendous asset, willing to answer all of our questions, no matter how basic. We are all slightly dreading Monday morning, when they are gone and we are on our own. Thankfully, all of the summer students are willing to help each other out, offering advice when another student gets an assignment they have done before. I’m grateful to be working with such a good group of people.

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