Monday, 8 February 2016

Case Summary: A Cautionary Tale

In a very recent summary conviction appeal decision out of the Ontario Superior Court, Justice Kenneth Campbell in Shofman stressed the importance of a lawyer's “contemporaneous, reliable, objective records.”

I have a practice of sending off a quick email to the person whom I just spoke to, confirming what was said.

As articling students we are often fielding phone calls from clients, opposing counsel or unrepresented litigants. We have been taught by our mentors and articling principles at McCague Borlack to make contemporaneous notes of these calls that detail what was said and in what context. If appropriate, I have a practice of sending off a quick email to the person whom I just spoke to, confirming what was said. I find that this provides a relatively accurate time-stamp for the conversation and allows the other party an opportunity to clarify any issues that they may have with my recollection.
photo courtesy of savit keawtavee - freedigitalphotos

In this case study, the decision by Justice Campbell, reinforces the importance of documenting key interactions that are relevant to a file. Not doing so may have unforeseen consequences, months or years down the road.

Read the case study: Judiciary to the Bar: Make Contemporaneous Notes and Take Written Instructions.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Managing Stress

While the legal profession offers many perks, it also has stressful elements. Below are some of my tips for managing stress as an articling student.

Whenever I get a new assignment, I immediately add it to the list...

Make a list. 

Whenever I make a to-do list, my head seems a lot less cluttered and my outstanding tasks seem much more manageable. I keep a to-do list with all of my outstanding assignments on hand. Whenever I get a new assignment, I immediately add it to the list so that I don’t have to worry about forgetting something.

At the end of each day, I also make a to-do list for what I want to accomplish the following day. This list helps me stay focused and deal with one thing at a time.

Get some exercise.

Admittedly, this is sometimes easier said than done. At the end of a long day, it can be tempting to go home, crawl into bed and watch Netflix. However, my mind is a lot clearer and I’m able to focus better at work (not to mention feel better) when I exercise regularly.

Finding a form of exercise that I actually enjoy and look forward to makes it a lot easier for me to follow through. I’ve started making a point of going to more yoga classes. They help me relax and they allow me to get some exercise. If there’s one thing I appreciate as an articling student, it’s being able to kill two birds with one stone.

Talk it out.

The people at MB are a great support system. The lawyers are always happy to help, and the articling students regularly grab coffee or lunch together to chat about stressful assignments and bounce ideas off of each other. It acts as a great reminder that we’re all in this together.

With that being said, I also find that it helps to talk to people who aren’t in law. Whether that be friends or family, a quick phone call can quickly put whatever you are stressed about into perspective.

some images from freedigitalimages
Sleep on it.

I feel less anxious and assignments seem a lot more straightforward when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. It can be difficult to turn your brain off at the end of the day, but putting work out of your mind and realizing that it will all get done is a skill that is worth mastering. Pro tip: turn off your phone and laptop, and read a chapter of a book in bed to help you fall asleep.

Overall, remember that articling is an opportunity for you to learn a lot. Enjoy it!