THE END IS NEAR: MAKING THE MOST OUT OF THE REST OF YOUR ARTICLING TERM

By: Janeta Zurakowski

Congratulations! If you are reading this, you are (almost) half way through your articling term, and likely feel much more prepared to start practicing law than several months ago when you were preparing for the bar exam.

When you graduated from law school, you were given a toolkit that you will be “sharpening” for the rest of your legal career so here are six tips for sharpening those legal tools during the second half of your articling term:

1. MAKE APPEARANCES

As an articling student, you are in the unique position to attend meetings and court/tribunal appearances (a.k.a. invaluable learning opportunities) with associates and partners alike for the sole purpose of “learning”. 

Over the next several months, take advantage of these opportunities, make those appearances, and learn as much as you can from as many people as you can because it will make your life easier in the long run when you have carriage of your own files and have to attend those meetings and court/tribunal appearances on your own.

2. ADD VALUE TO YOUR FIRM

If you are interested in a particular area of law, become the expert or “go-to” person for questions about that area of law at your firm. 

Your colleagues will appreciate your expertise, you will get lots of work, and you will certainly be on the firm’s radar as your articling term ends and are looking to transition into a permanent role whether internally or elsewhere. 

3. LEARN THE LAW

You have spent a lot of time learning the law at school, but, alas, you will be a lawyer soon required to stay current with the law in your respective practice area for the rest of your legal career. 

Over the next several months, take steps to ensure that you are (and will remain) current on legal issues, case law and other important developments by reading law blogs, joining LinkedIn groups that regularly post updates on the law, and following (other) law firms on social media for updates on legal developments relevant to your practice area.

4. KEEP CHECKLISTS

By now, you have probably drafted some pleadings and a contract (or 5).

Realistically, you will be drafting legal documents for the rest of your career, and will want to have the best possible tools to be able to prepare drafts of those documents.

Start early by creating a checklist (or roadmap) of all of the steps that you take to draft those documents and update that checklist regularly.

5. WRITING 101

There is no time like the present to work on your legal and business writing skills so take advantage of all of the drafting opportunities internally and externally to refine your writing skills (i.e. road map, less is more, be persuasive, use lists, etc.).

5. FOSTER BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS

You have probably heard lawyers and others at your firm refer to “business development”, but, for better or for worse, you may not have a good sense of what that means or how to get started on “BD”.

As an articling student, you have the ability to network among your peers, within your firm, and within your larger community – so get involved early and foster your business relationships now. Plant that seed and watch it grow in the future! 

Janeta Zurakowski is a management-side labour and employment lawyer at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP in Hamilton.