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Finishing articling can feel like reaching the mountaintop after a long, difficult and rewarding climb. With every ending comes a new beginning and the same is true for articling. After articling, it is time to look forward and start your career as a lawyer. This is an exciting time and one filled with change. Although articling is meant to prepare you for being a lawyer, there are still some significant changes that occur when making this transition.
Here is some advice on what changes, what stays the same, and how to navigate this transitional period.
Continue to learn, adapt after articling
Whether you are relieved that it’s over or sad to see it come to an end, one thing that is certain is you will have learned an immense amount during articling. This learning will never stop. The law is constantly changing and so is the legal profession. To stay up to date, you must always learn and adapt so you can best serve your clients.
Many law students are familiar with the “Living Tree Doctrine” of constitutional interpretation which states the constitution is organic and must be read in a broad and progressive manner to adapt to the changing times. The same can be said about the practice of law. Even as you take on more responsibility and more work as an associate, it is important to maintain a studious attitude and continue to learn and adapt.
One of the biggest changes you will face going from articling to associate is increased responsibility on files. You have been called up to the big leagues now and there are more expectations and less hand-holding. Law is all about serving the client. When you become an associate, you will have more client-centred responsibilities. This involves keeping clients happy while also managing client expectations. This is likely a new responsibility for many new associates, or at least a responsibility that increases tenfold.
Manage client expectations
The best way to manage client expectations, ensure clients are satisfied, and ultimately continue to grow your practice is simply with communication. Consistent communication with clients, whether to provide updates, seek instructions, or just check in, is a great foundation for a newly minted associate to build their practice upon.
The transition from articling to associate is an exciting new beginning, and it is a time to enjoy. Never stop learning, start with the basics, and don’t forget what you learned in articling. When you become an associate you will encounter many different challenges, but you will use the skills you learned in articling to solve these problems and meet new challenges as they arise. Finally, look to other associates for guidance as they have recently gone through a similar metamorphosis and can provide first-hand experience on how to succeed in your new role.
Jason DiFruscia is a graduate from Queen’s University Faculty of Law. Prior to law school, Jason attended Western University where he graduated with distinction with a degree in Health Sciences. Connect with him on LinkedIn.