Friday 23 August 2019

"Articling is a marathon, not a sprint", and other advice

Almost three weeks ago, the six 2018 summer students returned as articling students. On the first day, we walked into the board room, one by one for our arrival time at 9:15 a.m. Everything looked the same, but it felt very different. We weren’t as nervous; we felt comfortable and excited to be back at the firm.

It is now the third week of articling and the “floodgates” have been open for almost two weeks. When sitting at my desk I hear either keyboards clicking or phones ringing…everyone is busy. All of the articling students have received a variety of assignments from various lawyers at the firm.

Even though we feel comfortable, having been summer students at the firm, having the title as “articling student” can feel overwhelming at times. Howard Borlack, the managing partner at the firm, gave us advice during training week that has stuck with me and been helpful in the past few weeks:

“Articling is not a sprint, but a marathon.”

As articling students, we were advised to pace ourselves with accepting assignments and avoid burning out at the beginning of the articling term.

This advice is similar to what I was told in my first year of law school. As many people know, the first year is very competitive, but it cannot be treated as a sprint because students should not be burnt out for their final exams. Similarly, although it is tempting to use all of our energy right away, we were reminded to spread out our hard work and assure that we are improving throughout the term and maintaining our hard work.

“Maintain a work-life balance.”

We were fortunate to be reminded that it is important to maintain a work-life balance during articling.

Although we will need to meet deadlines, we were advised to still make time for the family, friends, gym, or things we enjoy doing during our free time. This helps combat feelings of being burned out, stressed, and overwhelmed.

“Articling is a time to learn from your mistakes.”

We were advised to take advantage of this opportunity to learn and have lawyers advise us on ways to improve as “baby lawyers”.

We were reminded that we have the benefit of learning as much as we want to and are able to in the next 10 months. So far, the supervising lawyers on my assignments have been extremely helpful in answering questions I have had and explaining why I was wrong when I made a mistake.

With that being said, I look forward to the next 10 months of being a sponge for knowledge; making mistakes, but learning from them.
by Anisha B.

Thursday 15 August 2019

So You Want to be a Litigator: Development the MB Way

Entering law school I, like a lot of my peers, had an initial interest in litigation. I had spent many rainy days reading about Atticus Finch’s iconic closing, watching Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee demand to know who ordered the code red, and begrudgingly viewing Elle Woods have epiphanies in the courtroom based on her knowledge of hair-care products. Because of this, I made an effort in my first year of law school to get involved in moots and work with my school’s advocacy committee which grew my interest in the field. What I needed to know now was if a career as a litigator was going to be everything I had made it out to be in my mind.

The truth is that you never know if you truly like something until you try it, and this is exactly how I entered the OCI process. I knew that if I wanted a career in litigation, I wanted to get the most experience possible to be certain that this was the primary direction I wanted to head in my career.

Throughout the hiring process, McCague Borlack promised me exceptional early experience in the field as a primary feature
of their summer student program and they have not disappointed.

So what should you come to expect from a summer with McCague Borlack? In my experience anything and everything. From the first day that we were able to accept work following orientation, I was challenged by a broad array of interesting tasks and treated as a full, equal member of my new team: team MB. I drafted a wide variety of pleadings, attended numerous discoveries, mediations, and court appearances, and worked on several thought-provoking issues from across a broad spectrum of legal topics. I can honestly say following this summer, I learned as much as I possibly could about a career in litigation in a three-month period.

The experiences that I had also allowed me to do meaningful work with twenty different lawyers across the firm, including associates, partners, and even Howard Borlack himself. By getting an early opportunity to work with senior lawyers at the firm from day one, I had a great opportunity to work on big and exciting cases that many students wouldn’t have the opportunity to work on this early in their careers. Additionally, working with a wide spectrum of different lawyers from across the firm was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the culture of the firm as a whole. Getting a lot of responsibility in a fast-paced and demanding work environment can be a daunting proposition, however, the support I received from every lawyer I worked with at the firm was tremendously helpful in becoming acclimatized to this new work environment. The biggest takeaway I had was that, from top to bottom, people want to teach you how to do new things and are truly invested in your development as a lawyer.

Reflecting back at my earlier self thinking about a day where I might be making a passionate and over-the-top closing in court, I am glad that I made the conscious effort to pursue this field and take a leap into the deep end of "the litigation" pool. Learning the process of this craft, improving my abilities as an advocate, and being a meaningful part of this team is a true joy. I can only imagine what I will learn next going into articling.

by Adam O.