As we near the end of our articling term, we have come to realize that much of our learning this year has stemmed from observing and imitating the behaviour of others – also known as mimetic learning.
We have each learned much more from watching and imitating how our supervising lawyers communicate and manage their every day practice than when they explain point first legal drafting techniques. Moreover, we have each learned the importance of practicing with integrity. We each describe our personal experience with mimetic learning and how it shaped our outlook on connecting with clients, opposing counsel, and the legal community as a whole.
After writing the barrister and solicitor exam, most articling students cannot help but to comment on the extensive practical duties and obligations that lawyers face on a daily basis. We might broadly understand the duties that lawyers have towards their clients, but we do not yet understand the multifaceted relationship that inevitably develops with the client, especially in family law. We have never been instructed on how to connect with a client who is sharing their deeply personal struggles. Instead, we watch the way our supervising lawyer speaks to the client and we emulate that.
Client-focused legal practice is practice that focuses on fostering open, honest communication with the client. Given the diversity of clients that one lawyer may have, this ideal for legal practice can sometimes feel lofty and out of reach. It has been immensely enlightening as an articling student to observe counsel interacting with clients in a manner that ensures they feel respected and informed. We have noticed the most effective advocates are the ones that are able to tailor their approach to each of their clients.