The Value Of Being A "Yes" Woman In Articling

Lerners LLP


Lerners LLP is one of Southwestern Ontario’s largest law firms with offices in London, Toronto, Waterloo Region, and Strathroy. Ours is a history of over 90 years of successful client service and representation. Today we are more than 140 exceptionally skilled lawyers with abundant experience in litigation and dispute resolution(including class actions, appeals, and arbitration/mediation,) corporate/commercial law, health law, insurance law, real estate, employment law, personal injury and family law.
We all have that friend who is the poster person for saying yes. They'll say yes to anything – things they hate, things they can't afford, you name it!
Canada Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration
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We all have that friend who is the poster person for saying yes. They'll say yes to anything – things they hate, things they can't afford, you name it! Believe me, I know it gets annoying after a while. But what if I told you that there's value in being that (sometimes annoying) friend during your articles? Let me tell you the tale about how being a "Yes Woman" has served me during my articling year at Lerners...

During my first few weeks of articling, one of our fearless student coordinators, Andrea, asked me if I would assist with a 3-day arbitration conference that the firm was sponsoring. I thought "What do I know about arbitration" – spoiler alert: nothing. Nevertheless, I said "Why not?" and was on my way. While helping to set up one dreary morning, I met, and chatted with, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada! And, the boot doesn't stop there. I got to know one of the partners at our firm who was in attendance and she invited me to assist with an arbitration later that year. Now, that arbitration has concluded and I'm assisting with another. Not only did one random yes on a Tuesday afternoon introduce me to a legal legend, but it has given me unique learning opportunities that I will never forget.

For this example I'll need to set the stage – it's a rainy October Sunday afternoon. I am in my pajamas on the couch with no intention of moving away from my latest movie binge. A quick glance down at my work phone reveals another message from Andrea. But this time it's not a conference, it's an urgent Sunday assignment on a new high-profile case. I was so tempted to say no... but that little voice in the back of my head encouraged me to be a team player and take it on. For the next two months, I worked on a team across both of our offices putting out proverbial legal fires on what seemed like a daily basis. I learned so much about what it means to work on a team, time management, and the thrill of real-time litigation. I know that I'll be a better lawyer because I said yes to that assignment, even though I definitely did not want to in the moment.

One thing you should know about me is that I am a quintessential drama kid at heart. Now, do with that information what you will, but I'm proud of it! This drama kid turned almost lawyer was put on a trial team in the first month of her articles. During one of our meetings, I was overjoyed to learn that we were going to do a Mock Jury of our case – bring in real people, the client, and do a full mock trial to get the "jury's" insights about our case and our client. I felt like I was in an episode of Suits. A pit wrenched in my stomach when my drama kid mouth moved faster than my articling student brain – I had just volunteered to play the defendant in the mock jury. Am I really going to make a fool of myself in front of these partners and associates? I guess I am. In the weeks leading up to the mock jury, I thought I had made the worst mistake by volunteering. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Not only did I get to witness two equity partners on their feet, doing opening statements and cross-examinations, but I got the opportunity to get to know my colleagues. After the mock jury, I realized that the camaraderie at the firm was unmatched. We sat in a board room with snacks discussing the file and the mock jury for hours. Volunteering for this, albeit daunting, role taught me the value a firm's culture plays in your experience as an articling student, or even as an associate.

Those are just a few examples that illustrate how valuable saying yes has been to me during the last 8 months at Lerners. So, I encourage you to give your "yes woman" friends a pat on the back because I've learned that it's not easy to say yes all the time, but it's almost always worth it.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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