Tuesday 24 October 2017

Adieu to Bad Law School Habits

The day-to-day student life is incomparable to that of real-world work life. So many changes transpire from the instance you graduate from law school to settling in as an articling student. You truly enter a different world. Those old school days filled with procrastination, poor diet and sloppy apparel, common for law students and in fact sanctioned within student culture, must be left behind and good habits introduced. Bringing bad habits onwards in life is not only highly detrimental to one’s personal health but also to one’s success as a lawyer.

Bad law school habits to break when graduating law school in order to succeed in the legal world.

Bad Habit #1: Procrastination

Ok, I admit, I was guilty of this one. You bet when I was at home with intentions to complete that 200 pages reading for class the next day, I would rationalize the need to get that laundry, cleaning, gym session, etc., in at that time instead. Although the readings would eventually get done (maybe), the consequences of such procrastination were minor, if any, and only affected me personally.

On the other hand, to haul this bad habit forward into the beginnings of your career carries weighty undesirable effects. The quality of your work and efficiency suffers significantly if the task is postponed to a later date. For example, drafting a Discovery Report takes a lot less time and is significantly easier to do right away when all the details are still fresh in your mind. You will organically develop an efficient practice if you commence a task as soon as possible; you eliminate time wasted having to make sense of the notes you jotted down whenever it was that the assigning lawyer was giving you the instructions.

Bad Habit #2: Asking for assignment extensions

Facepalm, I had to extend the deadline for this blog post! Understandably, with urgent tasks perpetually coming in, I had to prioritize and delay my post by a couple of weeks.

This bad habit often presents itself as the aftermath of bad habit #1. Asking for extensions at school is never a good thing as your final mark decreases every day your assignment is late, but, once again, it only affects you personally. Now there are real limitation periods that must be met, and several individuals that trust and depend on you to complete the task by its due date. Prioritize your assignments routinely as they come in to ensure that a deadline is never missed and you won’t have to rely on asking for an extension.

Bad Habit #3: Poor Diet and Dress Code

It is so easy to spot a first-year law student versus a third year in the school hallway. If you see a sharp-dressed, not a hair out of place, alert being with healthy snacks and all his/her school supplies in order, high chances that’s a first-year student. If you see a barely awake, yoga/sweatpants wearing, messy hair being with takeout food in hand and asking others to borrow their laptop power cord, high chances that’s a third-year student.

I personally do not have any justification to present for this laxation in appearances and diet but what I can say is that the presentation and attitude students possessed during their first year of law school is the philosophy that is necessary for articling. First, you need healthy and balanced meals to fuel your energy and maintain sharpness for those long days at work. Further, since you are no longer just congregating with other fellow students at school, you need to put in the effort and continually maintain a professional appearance in the likely event you have to meet a client or head to court.

Bad Habit #4: Overspending your loans

Many students don’t think twice before dipping into their OSAP loans or line of credit for whatever thing seemed absolutely necessary at that moment, like getting out of the country and travelling during the summer months. Now those (non)essentials are knocking at your door as it is repayment time.

Articling is already a very stressful time and you do not want to add on to it by financial pressures. Do not continue spending in order to partake in the “lawyer lifestyle”; you do not have that liberty just quite yet as your paychecks have more than one owner. Better yet, identify your repayment obligations and applicable interest rates early on so you are most able to prepare a realistic and workable budget. Having a plan in place will afford you peace of mind and it will be one less distraction during your articling year.

Keep these tips and lifestyle changes in mind while you are at school. As you end your law school journey, try to integrate them into your routine as early as possible to best prepare for articling.

Gabriela C.