Law Students and Young Lawyers

Emboldened Articling Students


This article has three parts. Do not act on the suggestions in the first part until you consider the advice in the second part and the rebuttal in the third part. 

Part One: Murray’s Recommendations

Murray strongly recommends that articling students ask these probing questions and many similar ones before accepting a position:

  1. How many articling students did you hire back 4 and 5 years ago, and how many of those are still at the firm?  Why are some of them no longer here?  
  2. How often will I be given the opportunity to go to court with a senior lawyer and will they give me the file to review prior to the court appearance, discuss the issues and the strategy with me, and debrief me later?
  3. Will I attend client meetings with a senior lawyer, and will they give me the file to review prior to the meeting, discuss the issues and the strategy with me, and debrief me later?
  4. Will I be given the opportunity to do motions and small claims court trials on my own after having attended with a more senior lawyer to show me the ropes?
  5. Will I be given the opportunity to draft documents?  Will a senior lawyer teach me how to do this first?  Will the senior lawyer take the time to review my draft and tell me what I did well and what I did poorly?
  6. Will you arrange for the law clerks to teach me how they incorporate a company, process an amalgamation, and draft other corporate documents?
  7. Tell me about work/life balance in your law firm.

Part Two: Maureen’s Advice:

Maureen says that if you ask these questions you are not getting the job.  The interviewer is thinking the following:  This kid wants to be spoon fed. I don’t have time to hold anybody’s hand. We hire the smartest people so that we can expect them to figure things out on their own.  If you can’t do that, you are useless to us. You have been reading way too much of Murray’s stuff.  Even he would never have hired you ‘back in the day.’

This is sink or swim. Bring your own water wings. You sound like you are going to be more trouble than you are worth.  I need a self-starter. I am not running a law school here. How much are your mommy and daddy going to pay me to hold your hand?

Oh, and, as it turns out, I don’t think that you have to worry about how the work/life balance thing is handled at this firm.

Part Three: Murray’s Rebuttal

I am right. Maureen is wrong. But maybe she is right. She often is. Be careful out there.

2 replies on “Emboldened Articling Students”

So, just assuming Maureen is right and that new graduates leave are well-versed in Chinese Law or Law of War or Law giverning sale of spoons in 1873, where can articling students get the necessary practical skill sets to be able to stay afloat?

In theory, they learn how to practice law during their Articling term. But in theory, communism works. In reality a lucky few get great Articles and learn quite a bit, and then start their careers at firms which provide proper mentoring. For the rest of them, it is trial and error.

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