Articling — Where Do You “Fit In”?

When I was looking for an articling position, people would often tell me to make sure that I found a place where I “fit.” At the time, I found this advice incredibly frustrating. I thought “fit” was a criterion that only those candidates who had multiple Bay Street offers could consider. I was more concerned about factors like type of law, location, and simply whether or not I would be hired. However, as I come to the end of my articling term, I find myself giving prospective articling students the same advice.

I articled at a boutique firm practicing in civil litigation and corporate work. I realize now that the articling position I wound up taking was probably the best “fit” available for me. Being in a smaller firm allowed me to keep my entrepreneurial instinct intact and to develop in the areas that I am most drawn to. As someone who didn’t really know what type of law they wanted to practice before beginning articling, I am thankful that I have gotten a well-rounded experience. Indeed, I feel well equipped to start building my own practice within the firm and to help grow the business.

I don’t think I would have gotten the same experience articling at a larger firm. This being said, for someone who knows what type of law they want to practice or sees themselves becoming a partner at a large Bay Street firm, the type of articling experience I got may not have been ideal. My decision on where to article was not consciously based on “fit.” However, I realize now that my principal saw that I may “fit” with what she was trying to build and that this played a large factor in her decision to hire me.

What does this mean for prospective articling students in practice? Your prospective employers are looking for someone who “fits” with their organization. If you don’t get hired, don’t worry – you were likely not a good fit with the firm and would not have gotten a great articling experience anyways. Instead of worrying about doing whatever you can to impress your prospective employers at cocktail mixers and in interviews, focus on being yourself and really demonstrating those unique traits that set you apart. Eventually you will find an organization that is looking for those traits and you will be happier, more productive, and learning more than you would be elsewhere.

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