A Day in the Life of an Articling Student – November 2021

Written by: Michael Graham

Ever since law school, whenever I meet new people, a variation of the same question always crops up: “what kind of law do you want to do?”

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with that question. It gets the conversation going and is easy to ask. The trouble is, it is not as easy to answer, and underneath the question is the implicit notion that lawyers practice one kind of law. And that’s fair to think. I mean, all accountants do the exact same thing, so why not lawyers too? And wouldn’t that make life so easy.

My mentor told me that the best lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the law. You don’t become the best immigration lawyer by learning just about immigration. You need to understand many areas of law: constitutional, administrative, international, tax, the list goes on.

I understand why the public looks at my mentor and sees an immigration lawyer. But my experience so far has been much more about the underlying breadth.

So, for your consideration, I provide an overview of a typical Tuesday in the life of an articling student.

I sat down and emailed a partner with clarifying questions for a research assignment on how bankruptcy and insolvency law affects insurance recovery.

I moved on to finishing a letter for a client following a clearance search we did for a trademark they want to register.

From there, I thought I would keep the intellectual property train rolling and I worked on copyright release agreements we drafted for a client working with multiple independent contractors for one big project.

Next, I finalized a Statement of Claim for an insurance issue. This one felt particularly good, because the updates were for comments, feedback, and questions I had about the initial draft. So, despite my green nature, the associate I was working with was receptive to my thoughts and eager to have me incorporate them (the good ones at least).

Then, I followed up with opposing counsel regarding a small claims contract issue.

At that point, I had received a response from the partner to my questions, so I planned to spend the rest of my day researching.

And finally, I took a call from an insurance adjuster who wanted to close out a file we had worked on for them.

In one day, I got to do research, communicate with clients and opposing counsel, draft pleadings, and do solicitor work. I got to work through so many different areas of law: trademark, copyright, contract, insurance, and bankruptcy.

“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

I can’t really think of a better quote to encapsulate what my articling experience is building to achieve. At least I hope so, or I am doing something very wrong.