Building strong relationships with fellow students and lawyers is important when articling during a global pandemic
The firm would like to thank Anisha, Christina, Emma and Jessica for their contributions and dedication throughout their articling term.
Q&A with Beard Winter LLP 2020/2021 Articling Students
1. Tell us about yourself. Where did you study? Why did you choose law?
Anisha: I completed my law degree at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. With my background in political science before law school, I was naturally drawn to the interaction between the law and public policy. Engaging with various courses and extra-curricular activities through the course of law school made my affinity towards litigation very clear.
Christina: I received my undergraduate degree from Western University and my law degree from the University of Windsor. I was always interested in going to law school, so I took introductory law courses offered at my university and worked at an international law firm after my first year of undergrad. I learned that there were diverse practice areas and different aspects of practising law within the legal profession. I wanted to pursue a career where I would be able to advise others and continuously learn something new.
Emma: I have a business background, completing a Bachelor of Commerce and working before going to law school at Queen’s University. I chose to go into law largely because I knew it would be a career where I would always be learning something new and would provide the opportunity to work with and learn from smart people. Luckily, I can say this has held throughout my articling experience.
Jessica: After obtaining my undergraduate degree in Criminology from Ryerson University, I attended the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy where I earned my Canadian and American law degrees. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to help others and become a strong advocate. I know that I made the right decision, and I am excited for my legal career to officially begin.
2. What’s been the best part of your mostly virtual articling student experience (due to the global pandemic)?
Anisha: Building relationships with my fellow articling students and lawyers at the firm has been a very rewarding part of the articling experience. Articling during the Covid-19 pandemic has come with its fair share of challenges, but reaching out to various members of the firm and learning through working on a diverse array of files has been invaluable.
Christina: Having a virtual articling experience definitely allowed the articling students to bond quickly. The four of us have established a great relationship and we were a tremendous resource to one another. We were also able to gain practical experience early on and had many opportunities to work with and shadow lawyers on meetings and hearings.
Emma: Articling virtually presented some unique challenges, which were all made infinitely easier with the help and support of the people at Beard Winter. As much as it is a cliché answer my favourite thing about articling actually was the people I got to work with. Having a strong relationship with the other articling students at the firm was especially key to making virtual articling a positive experience.
Jessica: Building strong relationships with the other students, as well as with other lawyers within the firm, has been the greatest experience of articling. As well, the mentors that I have gained along the way, both formally and informally, is something that I am truly thankful for. Despite working from home, I am fortunate to have formed these relationships that I know will last a lifetime.
3. What skills have you learned that you’ll take with you?
Anisha: I have been able to hone my legal research and drafting skills while articling. I have also learned how to quickly adapt to various situations that may arise in the course of litigation, and reorganize and prioritize my work accordingly.
Christina: Time management and organization are important skills, especially in litigation where there are multiple deadlines for court matters. Since you will be working on multiple files, it is important to keep organized so that you don’t miss any crucial deadlines.
Emma: Articling is a very steep learning curve where you learn a lot of new skills very quickly. What stands out to me is the in-depth understanding of the civil litigation process I have gained. I have had the opportunity to work on files in various stages of litigation, from initial opinions to pre-trial and trial. From that, I have learned how to evaluate a file, what to look for in an examination for discovery, and how to draft and argue motions among many other skills.
Jessica: Skills that I have learned that I will definitely take with me include becoming more organized, being able to appropriately manage my time, and most importantly, not being afraid to seek learning opportunities that will allow me to grow professionally.
4. Being an articling student is hard work. What is a favourite outlet of yours outside of the law?
Anisha: Outside of my work, I enjoy doing yoga, cycling, cooking and reading. I am also taking courses to obtain my sommelier designation, which is a long-term project.
Christina: I enjoy being active, whether that’s going for a run, playing tennis, doing yoga or learning a new sport.
Emma: The best break from work for me is playing sports and keeping active. Whether it is playing tennis or golf, or going for a long run or workout, that is the best way for me to clear my head and keep things in perspective. I also enjoy the occasional craft beer and a good book or show.
Jessica: Outside of the law, I love trying new restaurants in the city and visiting local wineries. I am also an avid cook, so when I can get my family and friends together, I try to perfect my own culinary skills and enjoy exploring new cuisines and food items with them.
5. What is your advice for students starting their articles this fall at Beard Winter or elsewhere?
Anisha: Take the time to reach out to various lawyers at the firm, and explore working on different kinds of files to make the most of your articling experience. And most importantly, articling during a pandemic is difficult – so do not hesitate to reach out for help.
Christina: Approach everything with a willingness to learn. Articling is a new experience for most law students, so take this time to embrace new opportunities, ask questions, and learn from the lawyers, law clerks and assistants.
Emma: Starting articling can be daunting, but it is ultimately an excellent opportunity to learn. You will learn a lot, but you are bound to make mistakes in the process. That is normal and even expected. I would argue that if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t putting yourself out there and trying new things. Before starting, or early on in the articling process, figure out what it is exactly that you are hoping to gain from articling. I would recommend making a list of all of the things you want to learn or have exposure to and check things off as you go. People are generally very receptive to requests to help or observe their work, so make sure to do this especially if you have particular interests. Another good tip is to build relationships with the other articling students at the firm. These are people going through a very similar experience to you, and who are no doubt having the same questions and struggles as you. Having sounding boards to your questions and problems is absolutely key.
Jessica: Expect the unexpected. The last thing that I would have ever imagined happening was a work-from-home articling experience. Although different from the usual articling experience, the situation allowed me to discover new strengths and my ability to adapt to unforeseen challenges. Having these skills and learning how to navigate the unexpected is something that I am grateful to have learned early on in my legal career. I believe that situations like these are part of the learning process and the profession specifically, and I would suggest any incoming student embrace them.