Managing Your Time As An Articling Student

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.
As an articling student, balancing the demands of legal work, professional development, and personal life can be overwhelming, but mastering time management is essential for success.
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As an articling student, balancing the demands of legal work, professional development, and personal life can be overwhelming, but mastering time management is essential for success. Effective time management not only enhances productivity but also reduces stress and helps foster a healthier balance between your personal life and work. In this blog post, I'll suggest some practical strategies for articling students to optimize their time and thrive in their roles.


With a myriad of assignments and deadlines, it's crucial to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. Start each day by identifying the most critical tasks that require immediate attention. Organizing your workload through to-do lists or task management apps is an effective way to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. For example, every day I write a to-do list of my most pressing tasks and check off the items as I complete them.


Break down larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks and set realistic goals for completion. Establishing achievable milestones not only keeps you focused but also provides a sense of accomplishment as you progress. With my to-do list, I realistically identify the tasks I can complete in that day and set a goal to complete those tasks. If I finish all my realistic tasks, I then go back to my list and select additional tasks that can be completed in the remaining workday. I am always keep my limitations in mind and avoid overcommitting myself to ensure I don't burnout.


Allocate specific blocks of time for different types of tasks, such as research, drafting documents, or attending meetings. Time blocking helps you dedicate uninterrupted focus to each task, minimize distractions and improve efficiency. Remember to factor in breaks to rest and recharge, as constant work without pause can hinder productivity.


In today's digital age there are distractions galore, from emails and Teams notifications to the daily office chatter. Research has found that, on average, it takes around 23 minutes for most workers to get back on task after an interruption. Taking proactive steps to minimize distractions by setting boundaries, such as silencing notifications during focused work periods or finding a quiet space to concentrate, can allow you to be more productive during your workday. I regularly place my phone on "Work focus", silencing all incoming notifications for the workday. I also use a productivity app called Forest, which allows me to set a goal of how long I'd like to focus for, and if I achieve my goal, I can use those rewards to plant trees.


Developing a consistent daily routine can enhance productivity and create a sense of structure. Determine your most productive times of day and schedule high-priority tasks during these periods. Stick to your routine as much as possible, but remain flexible to accommodate unexpected changes or urgent matters.


The articling experience can feel all encompassing. Make sure you schedule in time for yourself. Whether that be blocking in time for organized activities with friends and family or setting a hard deadline of when you'll stop working for the day. Regardless of how busy things may be, I always take Sundays off to play hockey and recharge for the week ahead. By taking time to rest and recharge, you'll ultimately enhance your productivity and become more effective in completing your assignments with the time you have.


Every lawyer has felt the struggle of managing their time and each have developed their own strategies for effectively doing so. Asking them for their tips and tricks can be a great way to develop a time management system that works best for you. Be open to constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. Continuously evaluate your strategies and make adjustments based on feedback and personal reflection.

Mastering time management is a fundamental skill to manage the demands of your professional career. Prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, taking time for yourself and seeking support and feedback will allow you to better utilize your time and complete your assignments in less time. The strategies noted above are a starting point to develop your own time management style. Although these strategies have helped me with my time management, each person is different and will find different things that will work for them. With dedication and practice, you'll become proficient at time management and set yourself up for success in your legal career.

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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