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Prioritizing Well-Being During Articles: Tips From a Current Articling Student

4 minute read
Also authored by: Sanan (Sunny) Mirza

Articling can be one of the more challenging chapters in a law student's career, however, it is also an important phase characterized by profound learning, substantial professional development, and the honing of practical skills. 9 months into articling, I want to share how I chose, and continue to choose to prioritize my well-being during this time.

Before delving into these tips, it is important to note that my insights are rooted in my own personal experiences, and my suggestions may not universally resonate. However, my ultimate goal is that these shared reflections contribute to a broader understanding of the professional and personal landscapes encountered during articling.

Tips for Well-Being:

1. Finding the “Right Fit”

A valuable piece of advice I received during law school was to remember that as much as law firms are interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. This is your opportunity to determine if a firm is the right fit for you. If after your interview your instincts signal a potential mismatch, make note of that – no amount of experience is worth spending 8-10 months of your life being unhappy. Find a firm where you are allowed and encouraged to be yourself.

During my recruitment process, one of the pivotal factors I prioritized was a firm’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Given that I was about to commit 10 months of my life at a firm, and considering that my culture and religion are integral aspects of my identity, it was imperative for me to find a workplace where I could freely express myself. For example, the ability to comfortably integrate practices such as taking time for prayer without hesitation became a crucial criterion in evaluating potential firms.

While EDI resonated with me, for you it might be something such as a fitness allowance, being able to work-from-home, or maybe leaving the office early to pick up your kids from school. Find a firm that is willing to accommodate you.

2. Friends & Mentors

Given the extended duration of articling, the significance of forming connections with colleagues cannot be understated. Placing yourself in a work environment where you cannot have an honest conversation with your colleagues only hinders your ability to be the best version of yourself. Prioritize surrounding yourself with people who will support you during the difficult times, and reciprocate that kindness when possible.

Similarly, it is paramount to article at a firm where they place a strong emphasis on mentorship. Articling is not just about acquiring legal knowledge but also about gaining insights into the nuances of becoming a capable lawyer. The mentorship you receive during articling can significantly mold your legal career. A firm that prioritizes and fosters mentorship is more likely to contribute not only to your legal acumen but also to your overall growth and success as a legal professional.

3. Contextualize What Articling Really Is

Articling is just one phase of your legal career – the initiation phase. If at any point you find yourself disliking what you are doing, I strongly encourage you not to abandon your aspirations of becoming a lawyer. The field of law is extensive, and there are myriad specialties and niches to explore – reflect on the countless times friends and family have asked you obscure legal questions only a select few lawyers would know. Do not allow one experience or a few assignments to impact the remainder of your legal career. Learn as much as you can during this time, make mistakes (although maybe not too many), adapt, and understand that your legal career is just beginning.

4. There is No “One Size Fits All” Approach

All of that being said, take my advice with a grain of salt. In navigating the complexities of articling and beyond, bear in mind that the pursuit of well-being is a deeply individualized and personal journey. It is entirely normal not to fully grasp what truly matters to you until you immerse yourself in articling, and that realization may evolve over time. When you do discern those elements that contribute to your well-being, make a deliberate effort to incorporate them into your routine. Embrace the fluidity of this process, appreciate that maintaining well-being is an ongoing and adaptable journey. What proves effective for you today may require adjustment tomorrow.

While articling is undeniably valuable for career progression, it can also be demanding, often requiring long hours, high-pressure situations, and a steep learning curve. Amidst the challenges, it is essential to prioritize well-being to ensure both personal and professional success.

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