Monday, 26 July 2021

Incoming articling students: What to expect during virtual orientation week


As the short summer term is quickly coming to a close, the incoming articling students are just a few weeks away from beginning their term. While Ontarian's are starting to experience some sense of normalcy as the province reopens, much of the working world is still virtual. The incoming articling students have the likely prospect of returning to the office at some point in their term. However, like myself and my fellow summer students, they will still have the experience of a virtual orientation week. This article highlights this summer’s orientation week to give all future students a rough understanding of what to expect.

This summer, Ashley Faust, the Director of the student program, organized and facilitated a 5-day orientation training in the first week of our summer term. Each day, we had between four and five training sessions, each led by a different lawyer of the firm.

The sessions ranged from substantive topics relevant to the firm’s common practice areas to topics relevant to daily firm administration. 

Substantive topics included:

  • the ABCs of civil litigation, 
  • managing a file including interactions with clients, 
  • insurance law 101, 
  • subrogation, and 
  • accident benefits. 
Conversely, the firm admin topics taught us

  • how to docket, 
  • run a small claims court file, 
  • be a good junior, 
  • an effective researcher, and 
  • be efficient in file management.
Ashley did a great job of balancing the schedule, such that we often alternated between substantive sessions and firm admin sessions. This was helpful in keeping me focused and engaged (since sitting in front of a computer screen for hours can be exhausting in itself).

As the sessions were led by different lawyers at the firm, this allowed us to meet some of our new colleagues and put faces to the names that we would soon see frequently. I appreciated this opportunity having been completely virtual this summer. Without it, it would have been incredibly daunting to start working without really knowing anybody.

During orientation, we did not have access to a firm email account, therefore, no work was assigned during the entire week. This allowed us to ease into the summer term and focus on what we were learning without any added distractions.

Ashley ran a final session each day to catch up on any content not covered in full. At this time, the students could also ask for clarification on anything covered that day. This checkpoint gave us confidence that no question would be left unanswered. (Note: we also maintained a similar checkpoint throughout the remainder of the summer).

By far, the highlight of the orientation week was our Brownie Bake Bonanza. Ashley provided her famous recipe, and one afternoon, we baked together over Zoom. While the brownies were in the oven, we joined in another Zoom call with many of the firm’s lawyers for a virtual meet and greet.

All in all, the orientation week was effective in preparing us to start our summer experience. It was also a great way to meet the faces we would be working with.

Pro-tip for incoming articling students: scroll down and read the rest of the blogs! 

by Rebecca F.