Friday, 27 May 2016

Make the most of it

The bar call is just around the corner, marking the end of the articling term. But while the call to the bar officially means the end of our days as law students, the learning process undoubtedly continues well into our careers as lawyers. I believe articling serves as a very critical and foundational step in this career-long learning process, so if I had to give just one piece of advice about articling, it would be to learn as much you can during your articles. 

seek out and take every opportunity to try new things and to challenge yourself...

As an articling student at McCague Borlack, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to gain experience in a number of areas of law. I found this to be one of the most valuable aspects of articling, so I suggest you seek out and take every opportunity to try new things and to challenge yourself.  Not only will you gain knowledge and experience, you may also discover where your interests and strengths lie. Diversifying your assignments also allows you to sharpen your researching capabilities. It’s best to start mastering the art of legal research as early as possible, as strong research skills are essential to your success as an articling student, and you will continue to require and hone these skills as a lawyer. 

image courtey of freedigitalimagesSpeaking of research, another great way to maximize your learning as an articling student is to take the initiative to develop your own research assignments. Start delving into areas that interest you, or develop your knowledge in areas that you’re not as familiar with. Be inquisitive – ask yourself questions and look for answers. And for those questions that you can’t find answers to, ask someone. 

While it may not seem always feel like it, articling really does go by surprisingly fast. So make the most of your last ten months as a student, and get as much out of it as you can.
Shene H.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

When possible, just pick up the phone

As a student, it can sometimes be quite intimidating to make a telephone call, especially, to a client, a witness or opposing counsel. It can seem easier to revert to the safety of an email for the purposes of communication. After all, with an email, you can take your time; write, review, re-write, and finally send with a click of a mouse. However, at times, it is much more efficient to just pick up the phone.

A frank conversation about the issues at hand can go a long way in finding a resolution that satisfies the needs of both parties.


There are numerous instances where a phone call is preferable: two common scenarios come to mind.

Opposing Counsel

It can be tempting to elaborate on your position to opposing counsel in an e-mail, to ensure that you get your point across clearly and convincingly. However, in some cases, a phone call is all it takes to understand the other party’s position and to get a better grasp on what it will take to settle the file. A frank conversation about the issues at hand can go a long way in finding a resolution that satisfies the needs of both parties.

Insured or Witness

To understand facts of a certain complexity, and to get a good sense of the events surrounding the claim, it is very useful to talk directly to the insured or a witness. For instance, I was working on a file that involved the failure of a septic system. I read the file contents and reviewed documentation on the internet, yet reading could only take my understanding of septic systems so far. After a telephone conversation with our client, where he clarified some of the more technical aspects of the claim, I had a much clearer idea of what had transpired. Sometimes, that’s all it takes!

image compliments of freestockimages.biz
In Summary

Of course, telephone calls are not always ideal, for reasons such as timing and availability for example. However, where possible, picking up the phone and getting right down to it can make our job a lot easier. As well, sometimes it’s simply more pleasant to have a chat with someone, rather than e-mailing back and forth. Just remember to keep a record of your conversations - see Aryeh’s post.