In law school, it can be easy to get caught up in only focusing on achieving the grades needed to get a position as summer or articling students and lose sight of the ultimate goal of preparing for a career as a lawyer. While getting good grades is important, it is also crucial to develop the skills necessary to succeed when you start summering / articling, and eventually start practicing.
As a student working at a law firm, you will wear many hats, and you may have many different roles. Your time in these positions at the firm is, in reality, an extended job interview. To ace this extended interview, there are various skills that you can sharpen during your time in law school to position yourself for success down the road.
The following are a few tips from my fellow articling students at Harrison Pensa:
University of Windsor Faculty of Law
“This likely isn’t the first time you have heard this, but join Legal Aid Clinics. I can honestly say that working in the clinic was the most beneficial experience I had in law school. I learned skills that directly translate to working in a firm including interacting with clients, corresponding with supervising counsel and other parties, as well as drafting tribunal applications and memorandums.”
Western University Faculty of Law
“I would say treat law school like the real world. Develop connections and network with your professors, as these relationships can be beneficial throughout your legal career. Also, look beyond the material you are learning and try to make cogent arguments that are applicable to real-world situations. Law isn’t as simple as regurgitating cases out of a book.”
Peter A. Allard School of Law – University of British Columbia
“It may sound boring but work on your research and legal writing skills. These are skills that you will constantly use during your time as a summer or articling student, and throughout the rest of your career.”
I will add that it is also important to work on your time management and organizational skills. As a summer and articling student, you will work on many different files at once. It is important to be organized, be able to manage your time, and prioritize tasks well. Good time management skills will also help with docketing.
One last thing to keep in mind is that working as a summer or articling student is just as much of a learning experience as law school. The real-world experience will give you the foundation upon which to build a long and successful career. Go in with an open mind and be ready to learn.
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.