A Day in the Life of an Articling Student
Written by: Rielle Gagnon

They say that variety is the spice of life, and by that logic, you could say that life as an articling student is far from bland. It’s challenging to describe a day in your life when each day is different, but I’m going to try my best.

8:00 am: I arrive at the firm and greet our lovely receptionist, Alysson, before heading to my office. I take a quick glance at my calendar and make a list of my tasks, deadlines, and meetings and make an outline of what I’d like to accomplish for the day.

8:15 am: I start my day by drafting a notice opinion for a labour and employment partner. I review a memo to file outlining the client’s employment background, research cases with similar facts, and start drafting my opinion.

9:30 am: Today I’m appearing in morning Chambers in the Court of King’s Bench, to make a without-notice application for substitutional service. Fortunately, Parlee is just a brisk walk from the courthouse, so I bundle up and head on my way. When I arrive, I take my seat and wait for the Applications Judge to arrive. One of the best parts about attending Chambers is observing other students and experienced lawyers make submissions. I learn so much by watching others advocate for their clients and interact with the Court.

10:30 am: When I return from Chambers, I notice that I have an email from a partner asking me if I can take on a new assignment. My task is to draft an affidavit, so I swing by the assigning lawyer’s office to discuss it. When I return to my office, I browse our firm’s database for precedents, and save a few that look helpful before starting my own draft.

12:00 pm: I’m very fortunate to have three incredible articling colleagues who I’m also lucky to call friends. Each day, we meet for lunch in the Parlee library and gather at a table with a bird’s eye view of downtown. While we watch the streets below us and see tiny cars drive by and people going about their day, we chat about everything from the work that we’re currently doing, the optimal office footwear (the answer: fleece-lined Crocs), what an Australian remake of High School Musical might be like, and how best to care for our articling pet: a retro Tamagotchi named Sally.

1:00 pm: Every second Monday, the articling students have a short meeting with the Student Committee. These meetings give us an opportunity to ask questions, bring up any concerns we have, and discuss our workload.

1:30 pm: I return to working on my to-do list for the day. Next up is a research memo on an interesting administrative law issue. Before I start my research, I decide to take a trip to the Parlee library to talk to our librarian. She always has excellent textbook and online resource suggestions, and I know that I can probably reduce my research time significantly if I have a quick chat with her before I start.

3:00 pm: It’s time for a quick break to stretch my legs, and conveniently, one of my fellow articling students has sent a message to our student group chat asking if we want to get “cof in the lob.” (This student happens to be an acronym afficionado – why would anyone ask to “meet in the lobby for coffee” when they could simply type “cof in the lob”? Never mind that it sounds a bit like a nasty virus that I don’t want to catch.)

3:15 pm: I return from our coffee break feeling refreshed and ready to whiz through the rest of my to-do list. I have a few enormous binders on my shelf waiting for me to review their contents (a lengthy Affidavit of Records to be exact), so I pull one off the shelf and settle in.

5:00 pm: After a couple of hours of deep concentration on document review, I realize that it’s 5:00 pm and it’s time to head home for the day. I pack up my briefcase and make my way down the elevator.

Today held a great deal of variety, and I know that tomorrow will too. Some days are fast-paced and non-stop, and others are quiet and deliberate. Some days I barely sit at my desk for more than 10 minutes, and others I spend long stretches researching, barely leaving my office. Both are days that I need and enjoy in their own ways. I’m slowly learning that this is the beauty of practicing law. It ebbs and flows, and it allows for variety in the day-to-day that makes it sustainable, unpredictable (in the best way), and certainly never boring.