Wednesday 7 February 2018

The Transition from Articling Student to Lawyer

Throughout my articles, I have experienced the ebb and flow of the litigation process. Some weeks, the workload can be quite intense, and other weeks are more manageable. Nevertheless, this experience has increased my competency with respect to working independently while maintaining high work quality.

I have started to feel less like a student & more like a
bona fide lawyer. 
This transition, however,
is not without its hiccups.

This expanding independence demands a greater degree of responsibility, especially in litigation, to ensure all tasks are completed on schedule and within the time allocated by the supervising lawyer. In the past few months, the work I have been assigned has been more encompassing of the whole litigation process and has forced me to develop good habits in order to stay on track.

Through this pedagogical process, I have developed some wisdom that I would like to share.

Effective Communication between the student and supervising lawyer is imperative. If you are in doubt with respect to instructions, a quick email is best in order to avoid time and delay. If further information is needed, let the supervising lawyer know in order to avoid “wild goose chases”. It is also good practice to verify with the supervising lawyer the scope of the task and next steps if needed.

Availability - In case a file assigned to you needs urgent consideration, it is best to check your work email even during your downtime. It is rare but, in fact, has happened a few times throughout my articles and, therefore, I was able to assist the lawyer in time.

Stay Ahead of the Deadlines - It is good practice to finish drafting a document early in order to have time to review it before passing it to the supervising lawyer, submitting it to the court or other counsel. It is easy to miss typos.

Utilize Your Strengths - Are you a morning person? Or do you have more energy in the afternoon? In my experience, it is prudent to schedule your tasks when you are most effective at doing them. This will ensure that you finish on time and efficiently.

Keep Track of File Progress - Articling students and lawyers have a lot of responsibility with respect to their files. It is, thus, a good idea to periodically check your active files and make sure that everything is moving along at a good pace.

These strategies have allowed me to better understand and adapt to being a lawyer. McCague Borlack LLP has provided me with a great deal of training for this transition. Accordingly, this allowed me to understand the scope of increasingly complex tasks that I have been assigned and has encouraged further professional development for myself with respect to the practice of law.
by Alexander S.