As a Londoner born and raised who completed both an undergraduate degree and law degree at Western University, I found it easy to be attracted to the intrigue of Toronto. While most of my classmates were seeking out jobs at large Bay Street firms, I found it difficult to stay true to my instinct that London was the right place for me, blinded by the ideas that the all the important work happens at firms in larger markets. However, as I approach the halfway point of my Articles, I already know that staying in London and working with Harrison Pensa was the best decision for me.
Hands-on opportunities are endless
In London, Articling students are given significant autonomy over files and are given access to almost unlimited practical opportunities that are simply not available in other cities.
Within the first few weeks of my Articles, I was thrown into a mix of hands-on opportunities that I only thought I’d get to experience as an experienced practicing lawyer. I attend court to speak to motions on behalf of lawyers, I interact daily with clients and lawyers (both internal and external to the firm), and I have represented clients through a Landlord and Tenant Board matter and hearing. I’ve also drafted corporate documents for significant transactions, completed research memos on a variety of topics, attended discoveries, assumed carriage of Small Claims Court files, and drafted a significant volume of court documents. This may seem like a lot, but I’m barely scratching the surface of the types of hands-on experiences I’ve had. And it’s only been six months! These experiences are invaluable as I prepare to become a practising lawyer.
One of the most appealing features of working in London is the recognition that your life outside of the office is also important. In many large markets, the legal field has a negative reputation for being all-consuming, especially for Articling Students and young Associates. I have not felt that same degree of pressure or that unrealistic deadlines have been put on me or my fellow Articling class.
While there is no question that Articling is a demanding year, I would attribute many of my difficulties and long days to the steep learning curve that students face transitioning from law school to Articling. The learning curve is daunting but exhilarating. In London, especially at Harrison Pensa, the lawyers place value on student activities outside the firm, while helping you become the best lawyer you can be at work.
Sense of community, collegial atmosphere
Lastly, and arguably the most important, is the collegial atmosphere and overall experience that exists at Harrison Pensa and in the London legal community. While I cannot attest to the way things work at other firms, my experience has been that there is always someone — staff and lawyers alike — to offer advice and assistance to students, whenever they need it. I am constantly given opportunities to learn from experienced lawyers who are always willing to share their expertise with students.
The lawyers at Harrison Pensa truly invest in their students’ success, and they take it personally to ensure that we have a successful and meaningful Articling experience.
Overall, I feel confident that my Articling experience has been, and will continue to be, my most significant year of learning yet. While law school prepared me in some ways to enter the legal world, the practical experiences that have been offered to me while Articling in London have proved much more influential. It is these practical experiences, the work-life balance, and supportive firm environment that makes me confident that working in London was the right choice for me.
Lauren Frijia was born and raised in London. She has an undergraduate degree from Western University with a specialization in criminology, and attended Western Law. Her work has included volunteering with several local centres supporting abused women. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and email.