THE ADVOCATE 27
VOL. 78 PART 1 JANUARY 2020
• Be sensitive to the student’s needs. For example, quiet students
sometimes need more proactive support.
• Avoid pigeonholing the student into an area in which they show
aptitude. The articling year is about exposing the student to different
parts of the profession and practice. They have their entire
career to find the right path.
• Supervise and support the student. The “sink-or-swim” philosophy
does not work.
• Monitor the student’s workload. At firms with multiple lawyers, be
aware of how much work other lawyers are asking the student to
• Be aware of generational differences. The current crop of students
may not have the same mindset as the students from 10, 20, 30
years ago had.
Where Do We Want to End Up?
By the end of the articling term, students should have a deeper understanding
of and respect for the legal profession, increased confidence in their
practical skill set (e.g., managing a file on a day-to-day basis; properly
engaging with other clients, other counsel and the courts; managing their
own time) and their legal abilities (e.g., analyzing the relevant facts and
applying the law, puzzling their way through a novel legal situation), and a
stronger connection to other members of the bar, especially those who are
significantly more senior. More particularly, students should have the confidence
to know that it is okay to fail on occasion. Principals must be able
to convey that a lawyer’s win–loss record is not the best measure of success.
If students are not properly prepared for the day-to-day stresses of practice,
then every stumble can seem like the end of the world.
Students should come out of their articling year emotionally and professionally
better for the experience. If they eventually conclude that law is
not for them, that is okay too. The key is that students should not come out
of the experience miserable, demoralized and bitter. Students should ideally
have a hint of the best and worst aspects of the practice of law.
Perhaps most importantly, by the time they enter the profession as fully
qualified barristers and solicitors, the former articled students will know
only the absolute bare bones of what they will come to understand if they
can make it through 5, 10, 20, 30 years of practice. The endeavour is a continuing
process. Success at the end of articling means the student can see
more clearly what he or she does not know and still have the desire to continue