At Harris + Harris LLP we hire articling students as if we are hiring a lawyer. In a smaller firm, such as ours, there are simply not the resources to allow students to wallow in mundane research and make-work projects. Nor do we view the first two years of practice as a Master's in articling. From the moment you commence working at Harris + Harris LLP, you participate in the full cycle of files and lawyering so that upon being called to the bar, you hit the ground running.

The major practice groups at Harris + Harris LLP have a meeting once a week for file review sessions. In these meetings, lead lawyers raise issues of interest and concern about active files for group discussion. Each articling student automatically becomes a member of each of the practice area groups upon commencing articling and is encouraged to be an active participant in these meetings. Right from the commencement of articles the student will find out which lawyer is doing what and will be exposed to the pressing issues that have arisen in the active files. As the year progresses, the student will be exposed to issues concerning retaining clients, conflicts, tactical strategy, billing, marketing, recruitment, expansion and staff related issues. Each practice group approaches files and practice management on a team basis. Practicing law is knowing that the advice and opinion of lawyers you work with is essential to building a professional and successful practice. Beyond that, however, being a good lawyer is knowing that ultimately the "buck stops with you" regardless of your year of call to the Bar. The sooner you can handle the realization that the "buck stops with you", the sooner you will be able to handle your own files, manage your own clients and build a successful practice.

At the start of articling you will specify your preference practice area. You and your appointed mentor will then consult before your articling year begins to work out an articling program that will ensure you get as much exposure to your practice area of choice as possible. Your articling mentor will also ensure that you have important grounding in the other major practice areas of the firm. As you have seen or will see from our firm profile, Harris + Harris has the advantage of being a small firm with diverse practice areas. This ensures a well–rounded articling experience and leaves you more options for your legal career path. Although we encourage students to pursue their preferred practice area, we also encourage them to keep an open mind.

WHY is Harris + Harris the right choice for you?

  •     • You want to learn.
  •     • You want to know.
  •     • You want to understand.
  •     • You want to be trusted.
  •     • You want to be encouraged.
  •     • You want to be empowered.
  •     • You shun hierarchy.
  •     • You envision practicing in your own niche area.
  •     • You are entrepreneurial.
  •     • You are committed to building a client base.
  •     • You want to be valued.

Only you have the answers. The choice is ultimately yours.

WHAT’S in it for you?

Articling students at Harris + Harris LLP will receive the following:

  •     • Excellent hands-on experience
  •     • Exposure to all aspects of the firm’s practice
  •     • Paid Bar-admission
  •     • Private window office
  •     • Computer
  •     • Competitive salary with benefits
  •     • Shared assistant

Advantages of a suburban Uptown vs. Downtown Firm

  •     1.The air is cleaner
  •     2.Closer to client base
  •     3.30 minutes closer to Muskoka
  •     4.Free parking
  •     5.30 minutes closer to real golf courses
  •     6.Cheaper gas
  •     7.Within walking distance of the airport, 401, 427 and 400
  •     8.No traffic jams
  •     9.Clearer cell phone reception
  •     10.No squeegee kids

Regardless of where you article, we thank you for visiting our website and want to share with you our 10 tips for articling. We wish you every success in the practice of law. Please feel free to contact any member of our firm with questions about their specific practice area, or articling generally.

Harris + Harris LLP Top Ten Articling Tips:

1. LEARN TO SAY NO

The biggest mistake an articling student can make is taking on too much work. In fear of disappointing a lawyer, the student decides to go the extra mile for anyone who asks for help and ends up spreading himself or herself too thin. The result is burnout, exhaustion, a decrease in productivity, irritability, frustration, missed deadlines and a generally unhappy articling year.

How do you learn to say no?

When a lawyer asks you to do work, explain the other projects you are working on, and on whose behalf you are working, and simply say you are not able to take on additional work. Offer to approach the other lawyers you are working for to re-negotiate deadlines to free up time to work on this additional project being presented to you. In most circumstances, it should be the lawyer that has asked you to do the work that should do the negotiating with other lawyers, but it helps to look cooperative and proactive. If you turn work away from a lawyer, go back to them when your time frees up and offer to do something for the lawyer. Remember, your time is valuable as well, so budget your time, stick to a schedule and learn to say no.

2. DON'T GET OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

Do not assume that the lawyers you are not doing work for know what is occupying your time. The larger the firm, the more you can get lost in the shuffle. Accordingly, networking is an important part of keeping you in sight of the lawyers who will influence your career longevity. Not everyone is good at networking; not everyone is overtly social. For those people it is important to focus on one or two people in the firm who you either do work for or have established some form of connection with, and who you believe are prepared to vouch for your qualifications as a potential lawyer with a future at the firm. Keep those key contacts informed as to what you are doing, ask them for advice about budgeting time, maintaining a manageable workload, and staff and lawyer relationships. Just because you have an assigned mentor does not mean you cannot drop in and ask other lawyers for guidance and mentorship. Most lawyers will be glad to answer your concerns. In the process you will avoid being left out of sight, out of mind.

3. SOLICIT CRITICISM

Unfortunately, not every lawyer who you work for is a skilled mentor and educator. Do not be frustrated by this and do not be intimidated by the apparent frenetic pace at which some lawyers practice. Be proactive in soliciting positive feedback and negative criticism from the lawyers that you do work for. Ask them to explain changes made to documents, letters or other work you perform. Ask them for their feedback on memos; did they like the style of the memo? Was it too long? Was the analysis of the cases sufficient? Look for opportunities to ask about tips on practice i.e. growing practice areas of the firm, interesting niches, and any articles or publications that lawyers are working on. Follow up with lawyers on files you have worked on and ask how matters resolved themselves. Articling and the first years of practice are all about creating a profile of the lawyer that you want to be and then becoming that lawyer. That involves taking the best qualities of all the lawyers you work with and trying to adopt all those best qualities into your practice. We often compare articling to a golf swing. If you go through the year just swinging at balls, you are going to hit the odd long drive, but there are going to be kinks and deficiencies in your swing that you are not aware are there and as a result you will find difficult to correct down the road. Look at articling as an opportunity to ask for advice from all the pros who work at your firm, who can help you learn the absolute essentials of a successful and consistent swing. Soliciting criticism is an important part of winning at the game of law.

4. BE DISCREET

The practice of law is premised on the confidential relationship between a solicitor and his/her client. Being discreet takes practice. That practice should start in articling with respect to client files, and also with respect to dealings with other lawyers. If there is any question about what information can be revealed about a particular file to other lawyers or to a client, those concerns should be brought up with the lawyer that you are dealing with first. Always err on the side of being too discreet. Sometimes what is not said is more important than what is said.

5. BE YOURSELF

Although there may be a tendency to conform to a style of practice or personality type within a firm, ultimately, you are not going to be comfortable unless you are yourself. Chances are you were hired because of your distinct and unique attributes. No one is expecting you to be any different. If you are going to worry, worry about doing a good job, not about whether everyone likes you, you distribute the best e-mail jokes or your hair is the right colour.

6. BE PROACTIVE

So much of life is trusting your gut instincts. An integral part of being a successful lawyer is knowing to trust yourself and act on your instincts. This should start during articles. If you are given an assignment with respect to a file and you discover another issue that arises upon your review of the correspondence or upon your review of a key document in that file, then raise that issue with the lawyer you are doing the work for. If you still have concerns, then speak to your mentor about it. If you think a lawyer is pursuing a wrong strategy or tactic, ask the lawyer why they are doing what they are doing. Approach articles as if you have an equal say and your concerns are valid. Do not be complacent about issues of concern that arise, and keep a healthy degree of skepticism about what you are doing. These qualities are essential, not just in your dealings with co-workers and adversaries, but also with clients as well. You should never be the dupe of anyone. If your workload dries up, ask for more work. If you want to see a lawyer in action, for example a trial or a closing, then ask to tag along and work your schedule around these valuable learning opportunities. Do not wait for the ideal articling year to come to you – make it happen.

7. POSITIVE ATTITUDE

So much of life is a reflection of attitude. Articling is a tough year. It will only be tougher if your disposition is one of negativism, anxiety and fear. Tell yourself that you are good. Tell yourself that you are going to be an excellent lawyer. Tell yourself that you are going to make mistakes, but that you are going to learn from those mistakes. Tell yourself that articling is going to be a great year. Keep that positive attitude and reinforce it to yourself each day. Practicing law is a long learning curve. But stick with it and soon you will come to the realization that you are pretty darn good at what you do and your clients will thank you for it.

8. MAINTAIN A BALANCE

During articles there is a tendency for the job to become all-consuming. Students are very concerned about how they are perceived by the firm. Are they working hard? Are they committed to the firm? Students feel that being physically present inside the firm for countless hours a day, 7 days a week, will best advertise their exceptional work ethic. Yes, the hours will be long, yes, the work is time consuming and yes, there will be a lot of work, but you have to force yourself to take personal time to recharge the battery and take time away from law in order to stay productive. Happiness comes through contrast. Keep up a sports regimen. Participate in athletic activities on your own or with other lawyers. Pursue or start a hobby or a creative outlet. The important thing is not how long you spend in the office after hours and on weekends, but how productive you are while you are there. If all you do all day and every weekend is law, you may be a good lawyer, but end up a dull, unhappy person who wakes up one day and wonders where 20 years of your life have gone – so maintain a balance – ultimately, you and the people you work with will be happy you did.

9. HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR

Although the practice of law is a serious business, one has to maintain a sense of humour about what we do, how we do it and sometimes who we do it for. You would be amazed at how many successful litigators inject humor into their submissions before Judges at every level of Court. The profession welcomes a sense of humor because, let's face it, a lot of what lawyers do is dreary, technical, mundane, paper pushing and can be extremely boring. So take time to laugh once and a while – even at yourself. It is extremely therapeutic.

10. AVOID CONFRONTATION

The reality is that you can please most of the people most of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. If a situation arises where you get into a confrontation with a staff member, a client or someone on the other side of a file, go to the people you know who are in your camp and seek advice and guidance. Unfortunately, during articles the squeaky wheel gets the oil. One person in the firm can do a lot of damage to your overall evaluation and you should do your best to smooth things over with such a lawyer if a fall out occurs. Seek the counsel of lawyers in the firm who you can trust and who can guide you as to what to do. Whatever you do, try to keep the stress and anxiety level to a minimum. The bottom line is, if you are going to have to walk around a firm worrying about stepping on someone's toes all day, it may not be the firm you want to stay with in any event. All firms have internal politics. Part of being a lawyer is being able to manage firm politics. Everyone has his/her own way of doing this. Do not worry, the cream always rises to the top.