Friday, 12 August 2016

They can't teach you this in law school: Litigation as a vocation

In law school, one learns the law. We learn the black letter legal principles, strategies, and the art of legal analysis. Specifically, law students learn how to examine a particular set of facts, apply the common law, and come up with a determination of the potential and likely outcomes. However, what law school does not teach you is the vocational aspect of litigation practice. Not surprisingly, since the beginning of my summer with McCague Borlack, I have had many opportunities to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of litigation; things you simply can't learn in a classroom.

There is a significant amount of strategy involved in the litigation process that is fact specific...


One learns best by doing, for example:
  1. There is a significant amount of strategy involved in the litigation process that is fact specific, and therefore is tailored to each individual case. Based on my observation of the senior lawyers, this process has almost become muscle memory to them and has given me a goal to strive for.
  1. In my first week, I was given the incredibly daunting task of analyzing a file with thousands of documents on short notice. Through the assistance of the lead lawyer and support staff, I was shown efficient tricks of the trade in order to effectively tackle and complete this task prior to its due date.
  1. The first time I had to write a Statement of Defence, it seemed like it would be easy enough, right? Well, not quite... Drafting a legal document involves more than just knowledge of the law and excellent proofreading skills. You also need to understand the strategy of how the pleading is written and what should be included. My mentor reviewed my first attempt, and  discussed with me what strategy she thought to take. This method taught me how to examine particular facts beyond legal liability, and to approach each case individually.
compliments of freedigitalphotos - basketman

They don't teach you this in law school.

During my time here at the firm, I have been fortunate to have been given tasks that involve knowing more than just the Rules of Civil Procedure and the law. Through the valuable feedback of my mentors and the “hands on” nature of my work, I have learned a great deal about the process of litigation, and this mentorship has been invaluable to my evolving legal skill set.

However, one thing is certain, I still have a lot to learn.

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