UAlberta Law LLM student Travis Lovett’s articling year did more than just give him practical experience – it also inspired an essay entitled “Important Skills Acquired throughout the Articling Year” that was recently announced as the 2017 winner of the Saskatchewan Provincial Court Judges’ Association Essay Contest.
Mr. Lovett is a Cherokee Indian, originally from Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Lovett received his JD from Arizona State University in 2014, where he was awarded certifications from the Indian Legal Program and the Center for Law, Science & Innovation. Mr. Lovett is now articling in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, at Slusar Law Office, while simultaneously working towards his LLM thesis from UAlberta Law. His thesis focuses on how impact and benefit agreements influence resource development and First Nations relations. Mr. Lovett said he has a keen interest in Aboriginal law, and plans to represent First Nations in issues relating to economic development, governance and corporate law after he completes his articling.
Mr. Lovett’s essay focuses on his articling year, and the skills he acquired during it. The essay begins by emphasizing how his articling year allowed him to transition from academia and theoretical problems, to real-life practice involving client expectations.
The first skill Mr. Lovett discusses is how to manage attorney-client relationships, especially involving clients who don’t speak English as their first language. He emphasizes the importance of empathy, remembering that the legal process is complex and foreign to the majority of his clients.
The second skill Mr. Lovett expands on is exploring alternative solutions, besides litigation. A client may believe that litigating their case is the only way to meet their expectations, and it is important for the articling student (or lawyer) to communicate all viable options with his or her client.
Mr. Lovett, quoting the Honourable M.T. Megaw, said that the task of a lawyer is to be a “zealous advocate”. This entails three essential skills. Firstly, learn the file. Secondly, never leave any stone unturned. Thirdly, be zealous – dissect the statute, edit their brief, rehearse their argument endlessly.
The most important skill, according to Mr. Lovett, is to be kind while managing all relationships within the legal profession, not only with clients, but with all other actors in the process. This includes secretaries, fellow lawyers, and all people that the articling student (or lawyer) encounters in the courtroom.
Mr. Lovett said the following about the importance of articling:
"Articling is the bridge that all students must cross to become legal practitioners. It helps transition theory into action, mock-actors into clients, and plans into practice.”
Congratulations to Travis Lovett on this outstanding achievement!