My First Few Days as a Lawyer

Around five days following my Call to the Bar, I began my career at a downtown law firm. My specialty was to be commercial real estate, an area in which I knew very little given that I had articled for a litigation firm and only assisted a younger associate lawyer with a registry office title search for a home that he was purchasing.

No sooner had I arrived than one of the two firm’s founding partners appeared in the doorway of my interior office and not only welcomed me to the firm while mentioning that I’d be reporting directly to him and then offered up my first assignment. He explained that a large commercial client of the firm had purchased a huge parcel of land that consisted of a decommissioned air base for a very explicit purpose (and which we soon discovered was contrary to the existing zoning bylaw, but that’s a story for another time), and that as the agreement had just been signed, he felt it was a great file for me to kick off my career with!

Despite my efforts to explain my absolute and total lack of experience, he congratulated me on my very first assignment while also indicating that he would be available to discuss any major difficulties I might as I worked my way through this assignment.

Needless to say, the rest of my day and during a sleepless night, my anxiety level increased dramatically – so much so that the next morning I had sat myself down in the firm’s reception area and waited for the partner to show up. Somewhat surprised to see me, he invited me to his office. Once settled in, he asked how he might be of assistance. At this point, I mumbled something along the lines that this file was well beyond my knowledge and experience and that it really needed someone more experienced in charge of it and likely surrounded by a team of 2 or 3 associates.

He stared and continued to stare at me as I felt my career about to end at that firm – on the day after I started and before I had done any work on any file!

Am I correct that you went to Law School?

Yes sir, I did.

Well then. you know as much as I do – get on with it and do the work!

Rather embarrassed, I stepped back, turned around and went back to my office, wondering where do I start? Where do I start? Maybe with Mary, the receptionist, who was most helpful when I first showed up in directing me to my mini, interior office while also explaining where I might find a notepad, writing and some carbon paper, and a bottle of whiteout! I guess with some research…while wondering who in the firm has done a real estate transaction or two?

And so, where to start researching what the next steps were to be…I don’t think that I’d ever been as nervous as I was at that time, about to embark on my career as a lawyer.

Stay tuned…

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