Monday, 7 January 2019

Lessons learned at the half-way point

Somehow, it is already the halfway point for us articling students. The amount we have learned in just five months is incredible. Here are my top three lessons learned so far:

It’s important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone…

One of the many reasons we are fortunate as students at McCague Borlack is because our firm practices in a wide variety of different areas of the law. This has allowed me to have countless opportunities to assist lawyers in areas of the law that I had never studied in law school. This was a bit daunting at first, but I quickly began to love it when I was asked to assist with a type of file or task I had never been exposed to before. Similarly, lawyers at the firm have always been nothing but inclusive and encouraging whenever I have expressed an interest in learning more about a particular area of the law. If I had shied away from these opportunities, or not taken the initiative to pursue files I was curious about, I would have missed out on many lessons and positive experiences.

…but it’s important to realize that it’s called “practicing” law for a reason

As articling students, we are innately overachievers and always striving for excellence. As such, it is obviously a tough pill to swallow when you realize you won’t master drafting motion materials, mediation briefs, pleadings, etc on your very first try. Or even your second. It’s important to realize that it’s okay to wobble a bit before you hit your stride. Luckily, everyone at the firm is quick to provide mentorship and share best practices. After a while, you start to realize that practicing law is exactly that – there will always be room for improvement, the law is always evolving, and articling is just the start of a career-long learning process.

… This is why it is important to always be humble, helpful, and respectful.

Legal dramas on TV couldn’t be further from reality. During the first half of my articling, I have had the chance to observe a trial, pretrial conference, and numerous mediations and examinations for discovery. One of the most consistent things I have observed is counsel for each party working together in a respectful and courteous manner to achieve an outcome that is in the best interest of the clients involved in a matter. While it can make for a scintillating television plot, in reality, nothing is gained by treating opposing counsel as an adversary.

I look forward to the lessons the next half of articling will bring.
by Priya C.