At the risk of sounding incredibly cliché, one of the most significant takeaways thus far in my articling term has been gaining a better understanding of who I am as a professional. I use of the term “professional” as oppose to “lawyer” or “advocate” because quite frankly, as an articling student early in the term, the first step has been to further hone in on my skills as a competent professional.
The simplest tasks, whether chasing down paper in court, making a phone call to opposing counsel or even just interacting with clients have felt like major victories and have been extremely telling as to what my approach to work and style of advocacy will be.
For example, as a soft-spoken person far from the stereotypical assertive, hard-hitting lawyer, I was surprised to learn from my experience in engaging in settlement discussions that I could be a rather aggressive negotiator. Simply learning how you conduct yourself in a professional setting, and recognizing your strengths and weaknesses can be extremely helpful in gaining confidence in your abilities as a future lawyer.
If I had a penny for every time I heard the phrase “hitting the ground running” to describe the experience of articling at a law firm, I would probably be able to retire before even beginning my legal career.
Ironically, as often as I would hear about it, I don’t think I truly understood what it meant, until I experienced it for myself.
A file that at first glance seems simple and straightforward can morph into a difficult and challenging one, simply because of an issue about the disclosure of a single document. By the same token, a file you have worked on for weeks can suddenly disappear and reappear from your task list without any real warning.