To work on the weekend or not to work on the weekend? That is the question.

Articling is a fantastic learning experience.  It is an opportunity to learn firsthand about the law in practice.  Articling can also be a time of stress brought on by prolonged mental exertion.  Every assignment needs to be given your full attention and best efforts so that the lawyer you are working for receives the information or services he or she needs.  The client’s interests must be realized to the greatest extent possible. 

Giving every assignment a full effort means some assignments will take a lot of time.  Of course, you have to make sure the time you spend on a project is in keeping with the lawyer’s expectations and is not wholly out of proportion to the benefit the client’s case will receive from your involvement.  Additionally, articling in a firm with 60 lawyers means you have many assignments.  Prioritizing and working efficiently are key skills. 

No matter how efficiently you work or how early you come in on weekdays, there will inevitably be situations where you have more work than time from Monday to Friday to complete it.  You may be given an assignment late in the day on Friday, something may have unexpectedly eaten up time during the week and left you behind on your assignments, our the firm may have experienced an influx of work, which, although positive to the firm, has resulted in a heavy workload for you and your co-students.  The question then arises:

Should I work as many hours from Monday to Friday as possible and make sure I have time off for myself on the weekend, or should I leave sometime before bed-time on weekdays and work on the weekend?

Below are some things to consider when making your decision:

Pro’s to Working Weekends

  • You can show up Monday with a sense of control and accomplishment
  • Bumping into lawyers also working weekends demonstrates your commitment to the firm and its clients
  • You can have time at the office to get through assignments that require uninterrupted attention; this can be difficult during regular working hours
  • It can help you feel like you’ve accomplished something over the weekend instead of spending the weekend worrying about whether you should be working
  • You can have time during the week to exercise, have meals with your family and generally feel like you have a life outside of work


Cons to Working Weekends

  • You may show up Monday with a sense that you never left the office
  • You may miss out on important time socializing with friends and family
  • You may work the weekend and still feel overwhelmed when you come in on Monday
  • You will miss out on the downtime required to relax and refresh your mind
  • You may be working late during the week anyway and consequently you will have no time for yourself and your family and friends

Choosing to work weekends is a personal decision.  The decision can be made on a week-to-week basis depending on your workload and deadlines.   Your decision may be influenced by your firm’s culture, how much sleep you require, how close you live to the office and how comfortable you are leaving things for Monday.  Your decision may depend on your weekly exercise routine, the importance you place on a healthy daily lifestyle and your family’s expectations.  Like everything else in life, the decision surrounding working weekends is a balancing act, where the weight given to each factor is completely dependent on your personality, aspirations, and priorities.