For many articling students the transition from law school to working in the legal profession is a huge learning curve. While in law school you may have completed internships or practicum courses, but these are often relatively short. In these courses you might work under a lawyer for a few weeks without seeing a file through from start to finish. For those students who land a 2L summer job, you work from May to August in a cohort with other students and get a taste of what articling will be like. These are all invaluable experiences where you engage in law outside the academic environment and in the real world. However, articling is the first time students get a grasp for the practice of law. And the transition is tough. As articling students quickly learn, law as a practice is much different from law as an academic discipline.
Here are four habits that can help make the transition easier.
1.Use a calendar
In law there is always more to do. Work hours can easily exceed the generic nine to five we associate with professional jobs. Sometimes there are lulls in work, but more often than not assignments consistently stream in from various lawyers (or judges for the clerks out there). Navigating how to best complete assignments during work hours is a skill developed as you get used to the type of work that you are doing. Agendas, planners, and calendars are key for successful time management. First, they help you track deadlines and how long you’re spending on tasks. If you’re not required to docket you should still track your time to get a sense of how long different assignments take to complete. Visual aids are also helpful in parsing your day and maintaining awareness of your workload capacity. I also strongly encourage you to stick to the chunks of time you have apportioned for certain tasks. Once that block is finished, move on to the next task or you risk delaying other assignments. Also, use your calendar to set reminders for yourself one week out and a few days out from deadlines. Reminders are especially important when you’re juggling multiple competing priorities.
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