A Day in the Life of An Articling Student

Written By: Kelly Lanyi-Bennett

What is the opposite of monotonous – exciting? varied? interesting? Whatever word you land on, it would describe my experience as an articling student at Parlee McLaws LLP.

My principal once told me the beauty of a legal career is that no two days are the same and that you can have a lengthy career in the law without ever feeling bored. I am currently about 205 days into my articles, and just as my principal suggested, I expect that if I sat down and wrote 205 articles chronicling each of my days so far, no two would be the same.

One reason why each day is unique, is that I typically work on multiple files and assignments throughout each day. In the interest of giving the people what they want (drama) I will describe an especially varied day I had recently:

My Monday started when I sat down at my desk and looked at my “diary,” a daily appointment in my outlook calendar that serves as my to-do list for each day.

First up on the list: emailing opposing counsel on an insurance litigation file I am assisting with. I had recently drafted, filed, and served the civil claim, and on this Monday, was writing to request an update on the status of their client’s dispute note. I drafted an email in my best attempt at an approachable and professional tone and sent it off.

Second task: speak with two lawyers about research projects they had recently assigned. I walked down the stairs to the sixteenth floor and knocked on the door of the first lawyer’s office. As we discussed the assignment, I took notes in my trusty hardcover notebook that I take everywhere. The assignment was to provide an update of case law on certain topics, which the lawyer required in preparation for an upcoming trial.  A few minutes later I walked back down the hallway in search of the second lawyer and knocked on their office door. This research assignment was about real estate contracts. Trusty notebook in hand, I headed back up to my office.

Third task of the day: check-in with a lawyer regarding an upcoming provincial court pre-trial conference that I was helping prepare for. The lawyer and I were attending a meeting with the client the next day, and I wanted to check in with the lawyer about what needed to be done before the meeting, which as it turned out, was nothing. We were ready for the meeting. On to the next task…

Fourth stop: visit our incredible library to look for resources to assist on a third research project relating to Unanimous Shareholder Agreements and the Business Corporations Act. When I got back to my desk, I saw that our star librarian had sent me an email enclosing two Ministerial Orders that she had obtained from a government ministry that I needed for a fourth research project I was working on, about the applicability of a certain statute to one of our clients.

Fifth: attend a lunch hour webinar hosted by the Canadian Bar Association.

Sixth task: attend the weekly check-in meeting with the Student Committee. I logged into Zoom and was greeted by the two partners and one associate who sit on the Student Committee, as well as my fellow articling students. Each student had a chance to discuss what we were working on that week, and any challenges we were having.

Seventh task (and most out of the norm): drive to the Edmonton Institution to meet with a client who is currently incarcerated. I left the office, walked to my parking spot, got in my car, and drove half an hour to the Edmonton Institution. I completed my Covid screening, put on a face shield, and was escorted through the institution to meet with our client. I used my fancy new title as “Commissioner of Oaths” to commission the client’s Affidavit, which took all of ten minutes, and was back on the outside in no time.

Eighth task: instead of just talking about research all day, I thought I should do some. After leaving the Edmonton Institution I headed home to finish the rest of the workday conducting research in my home office.

Ninth (and final) task: finish off the day with some work on a Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) assignment. One step closer to passing the bar (hopefully)!

And there you have it. One of the more varied days I have had in my 205 days as an articling student.

I bet you are wondering at this point, “wow, is every day in the life of an articling student quite that… varied?” To which I would respond, “no, it isn’t.” The next day was a quiet Tuesday, spent working on various research projects: reading the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest and trying to formulate the perfect Boolean search on CanLII (emphasis on the word “trying”). But even this uneventful Tuesday was unlike any uneventful Tuesday before because I learned about areas of the law I knew very little about before, and thought about legal issues I had never considered.

Not every day is full of adventure and intrigue, but each of my 205 days has been different from the days before. Maybe day 206 or 207 will prove me wrong and be the same as day 82 or 113, but I doubt it.