The Student-at-Law experience at Beard Winter LLP
Download PDF | The Student-at-Law experience at Beard Winter LLP
With a few weeks left for our 2018/2019 articling students, we thought that we would wrap up their time with the firm by having them answer some questions about their experiences over the past 10 months. The firm would like to thank Candace, Cemeka, Kendall and Lee for their contributions and dedication. We look forward to welcoming our 2019/2020 Articling Students in the next few months as well as our Summer Students in May. Our recruitment process for the 2020/2021 articling term starts in July 2019. Check out the Student Program area of our site for more information.
Q&A with Beard Winter LLP 2018/2019 Articling Students
- Tell us about yourself. Where did you study? Why did you choose law?
Candace: I have been drawn to the career of law for as long as I can remember. At a young age, I had an affinity for a good debate, which I was well known for among my family and friends. In high school, I took a law and society course and was chosen to compete on the mock trial team. This led me to pursue a double major in criminology/sociolegal studies and psychology at the University of Toronto. Upon my entrance into the dual JD program at the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy, I took on as many advocacy opportunities as possible. My experience at Beard Winter has continued to further my interest in pursuing a career in litigation.
Cemeka: I completed my undergrad at the University of Windsor and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in social justice. I decided to study law because I love the law in general, as it is in every aspect of our lives and I wanted to learn more. I also decided to study law because I wanted to help people solve their legal problems and to become an advocate.
Kendall: I was born and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia and completed my undergraduate degree at Vancouver Island University. I then moved to Toronto to attend law school at Osgoode Hall. I have always wanted to pursue a career in law, but I initially thought I would be a criminal defense lawyer. After being exposed to so many areas of law during law school, I came to the realization that civil litigation is better suited to my career aspirations.
Lee: I received my undergraduate degree in political science from York University. During my studies, I took many of the law-related courses that were offered and developed a strong interest in pursuing a career in law. Additionally, networking with many lawyers further confirmed my interest in law as I was shown what a rewarding career it could be and how there would be many options available to me once I obtained my law degree.
- What’s been the best part of your articling experience?
Candace: Articling at Beard Winter exposes you to all areas and aspects of the law especially litigation. From attendances at court or examinations for discovery to drafting contracts/trademark agreements and meeting one-on-one with clients, Beard Winter has provided me with an abundance of responsibility and opportunities to gain practical legal experience that cannot be taught in a classroom. One of the best moments was spear-heading a disputed landlord and tenant board hearing at the start of articles. I prepared for the matter for well over a month and engaged in witness preparation, drafted materials including opening and closing submissions, attended at the board to advocate on behalf of our clients, led cross-examinations, and was tasked with the preparation of appeal documents once the decision was rendered.
Cemeka: Getting to learn and put into practice the practical side of law that you don’t really learn about in law school has been the best part of my articling experience. I also gained valuable litigation experience and appreciated the hands-on approach that Beard Winter takes with its students. You definitely hit the ground running and learn to figure out things along the way. I also enjoyed getting to meet new people and building my professional network.
Kendall: Forming friendships with the other students and junior lawyers has been the best part of articling. I have benefitted greatly from the mentorship at Beard Winter and am very fortunate to have been able to article with Candace, Lee and Cemeka. Getting along with the other students and becoming friends has really helped to alleviate the stress of articling. One of my most memorable articling experiences was assisting one of the firm’s corporate lawyers with a commercial real estate closing. The lawyer overseeing the file let me draft the closing documents for their review and really took the time to explain each and every step of the process. It was a tremendous learning opportunity.
Lee: The best part of my articling experience has been the practical opportunities. Whether in the courtroom, or shadowing lawyers at examinations for discovery and mediations, I have been able to see what being a litigator is all about.
- Any challenges that you care to mention?
Candace: The process involved in becoming a lawyer including articling is demanding. Transitioning from law student to student-at-law can be stressful and at times overwhelming, regardless of your experience prior to entering the field. Learning to simultaneously prioritize tasks, meet tight deadlines and produce quality work has been challenging. However, by maintaining a positive outlook and working hard, each challenge you face becomes less daunting and sparks excitement instead.
Cemeka: Trying to balance the demands of various lawyers and assignments while maintaining a life outside of work. It is also difficult at times to balance your files. The key is to be organized. Making use of your calendar and setting reminders is very important.
Kendall: For me, the biggest challenge of articling has been learning to prioritize efficiently. In law school, most classes only have one final exam or paper whereas in articling we are often tasked with multiple competing deadlines. Learning to prioritize what gets done and when is critical to succeeding in the legal profession.
Lee: Scheduling, scheduling, scheduling. As a busy student in a litigation-focused articling program, it is sometimes quite difficult to effectively plan ahead. Litigation timelines can be quick and it is important to continuously review what you have going on so that no task gets left behind.
- What skills have you learned that you’ll take with you?
Candace: It is truly amazing the amount you can learn within the 10 months of articling at Beard Winter. One of the most valuable lessons I have taken as a lawyer in training is the ability to expect the unexpected. The constant court and dispute resolution exposure has taught me to be prepared for whatever may come, both in and out of the courtroom. My advocacy skills have improved exponentially due to the endless opportunities provided during articling. I have learned to write more efficiently, research more diligently and communicate more effectively.
Cemeka: I have learned how to become more organized and have further developed my interpersonal skills. Being a lawyer involves producing quality work but it is also necessary to have excellent communication skills for dealing with co-workers and clients.
Kendall: I have significantly improved my legal drafting and legal research skills while articling at Beard Winter. We have also been fortunate enough to regularly attend the Superior Court of Justice to argue uncontested and contested motions. This has helped me to develop my oral advocacy skills and to become more comfortable with courtroom decorum and preparing for oral arguments.
Lee: Having the opportunity to be in the courtroom so often and speaking to various matters in front of many different judges and masters has developed my ability to be clear, concise and confident when advocating on behalf of a client.
- Being a Student-at-Law is hard work. What do you do for fun outside of the office?
Candace: Outside of the office, you can probably find me at the gym or snuggled up binge-watching the newest hit show on Netflix. With the hectic schedule of articling, I also make it a priority to spend as much time as I can with family and friends, whether it’s a quiet night in or out cheering on one of Toronto’s sports teams.
Cemeka: Outside of work I enjoy reading a good book, taking a yoga class or meeting up with my friends to attend different events going on around the city.
Kendall: Outside of the office I play in a flag football intramural league once a week and enjoy going for a walk or a run along the lakeshore.
Lee: During the warmer months, I would try to get out to golf as much as I can. In the colder months, I would focus on keeping warm and catching up on all of my favourite Netflix series.
- Any advice for students starting their articles this fall, either here or elsewhere?
Candace: You only article once, so dive into this experience head first. Get your hands dirty by taking on difficult assignments, attending on examinations and mediations with different lawyers, meeting with clients or drafting complex documents. The only way to learn what kind of lawyer you want to be is if you put yourself out there. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The lawyers and staff at Beard Winter are always willing to assist students in accomplishing their tasks. Lean on your fellow students for additional support you may need, as no one understands the articling process better than those who are going through it with you. Lastly, have fun, be yourself and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities articling has to offer.
Cemeka: Build a relationship with the clerks and assistants as soon as you get here as they are very helpful and knowledgeable. Also don’t be too hard on yourself if you mess up. Remember that you are learning something new for the first time and you will make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from that mistake and to own up to it right away.
Kendall: Make an effort to spend time with your colleagues outside of the office. The students go for lunch or drinks together about once a month and we often walk for a mid-day coffee as well. It makes a big difference in your articling experience if you get along with the other students given how much time you’ll spend together.
Lee: Jump right in and take on whatever opportunities come your way. Articling provides you with the time to do things you won’t necessarily be able to as a lawyer, so take advantage of it. Also, ask questions. This is your time to learn and lawyers know that. Take advantage of lawyers making themselves available as resources as they have been through exactly what you are or will be going through.
Q&A with Beard Winter LLP 2017/2018 Articling Students | Gaining courtroom experience and communication skills for Articling students