Don’t Tell Me to Get a Real Job: A Camp Kid’s Path to Bay St.

If you’ve worked at camp, you’ve heard it before: “isn’t it time to get a real job”? The first time this question was posed to me, I got defensive. But as time went on, I began to feel sorry for the person asking it because clearly the person had no idea what it’s like to work at camp. That person hadn’t had the experiences or opportunities that only camp can provide – and as a result, all I can do is feel sorry for them. But this post isn’t for the people who don’t understand. Sure – if someone who has never been to camp can read this and gain a greater appreciation for what it means to be a camp counselor, then that would be great – but the intended audience here is you: the camp kid. The one who, at 17-years-old, stayed up with a homesick camper or facilitated cabin clean-up with a group of 10-year-olds; or the 19-year-old who was responsible for teaching a new skill and driving children around the lake on a ski-boat; or the 21-year-old who managed a group of staff not more than three years younger and provided evaluations, feedback and guidance. Camp is a wild place – not simply because of how much fun it is (which it is), but because of what it offers young adults like us.

Pisher (2007)

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a camp guy. My first summer at Camp Kadimah was in 2007 as a 12-year-old pisher with chubby cheeks and braces (as you can see). 12 short summers later, in 2018, I ended off my camp career after 6 years on staff, as Assistant Director.

This summer at Cassels Brock is my first full summer spent in Toronto since I was 12. In other words, this job is my first full-time summer job that isn’t camp. Yeah. It’s a bit different. But don’t you dare read ‘different’ as ‘harder’ – cause honestly – it isn’t.

Regardless of your position at camp, if you want to be a good staff, there are a few base-level skills that you need to demonstrate: initiative, effective communication, critical thinking, and the ability to work as part of a team. If you are able to refine these skills, I promise you, you will make a fantastic camp counselor. But not just that – I also promise you that you will be well on your way to becoming successful beyond your years at camp.

The truth is, the value of the work experience you get at camp cannot be recreated in any city job, at least not at the same age. In what “office” job would you be given managerial responsibilities before you can legally rent a car? In what “city” job would a teenager be tasked with the business’ most integral operations? The answer: none.

Now that you’re nearing or are at the end of your camp career, the question is: what’s next? You need to figure out how to qualify and quantify the totality of your camp experiences, consolidate them, and tie them up in a nice bow with the end product being your resume and cover letter. While this may sound hard to do, it’s not. It just takes the right kind of guidance. Which is where I can come in. If you, like me, spent the better part of your childhood at camp and continued onto become a staff, I think I can help. And even if you didn’t spend that many years at camp but worked on staff for even just one or two summers, those experiences are nonetheless valuable.

Leadership, management, loyalty, intuition, initiative, critical thinking, teamwork, communication…

These are the buzz words that, whether or not they want to admit it, your future employers love to see. What can separate you from the rest is that you have a tangible, real-world experience under your belt where you have not just practiced these skills, but have refined and re-refined them.

While it’s always sad to move on from camp (trust me, I’m still trying to get over it), it should be a small reassurance to know that not only do your memories of the summers-past stay with you, but also the skills and experiences that you inevitably gained will stay with you too. It is these skills and experiences that have prepared you for this moment, and provided you with a uniquely strong base for you to begin your professional career.

Working on Bay St. is no more a “real job” than working in Barss Corner, Nova Scotia at Camp Kadimah was, and I find myself lucky to have wound up at a firm that gets that. And trust me, Cassels does get it. But it’s up to you to make sure your future employer, no matter who they may be, knows that just as well as we do.

Pisher in a suit (2019)

(p.s. my offer to help still stands – shoot me an email, find me on Facebook, drop into my DMs.. I really am happy to help. The more camp kids here the better!)

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Brunch, the most important meal of the weekend

If you’re like me, you don’t live for the weekend… you live to eat on the weekend. And the best meal on weekends is brunch. It’s perfect; you get to sleep in and eat a dish that is over a thousand calories by justifying it as both your breakfast and lunch. Does it get any better than that?

Here are my three favorite weekend brunch places that are a must try

          1. Petit Dejeuner

This is a charming little place in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood that specializes in Belgium waffles. The wait can be about 20-30 minutes on weekends, but the waffles are definitely worth the wait. My favorite is with strawberries and chantilly cream. Absolutely delicious.




          2. Le Sélect Bistro

For lovers of Parisian ambience, food, and drink – this is the spot for you! This place serves amazing lattes and house-made pork sausages. My go-to order here is the oeufs et saucisses fermières.



          3. Bar Reyna

Rule number one: always sit at their secret back patio. The menu draws inspiration from Mediterranean regions. My favorite dish to order is the Baklava French Toast.

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Unique Law School Courses: Osgoode Edition

Each summer, Osgoode upper-year students frantically go through some kind of cost-benefit analysis to determine which courses they will take in their 2L and 3L years. Well, we at CBB want to put that frantic search to bed with a list of a few must-take courses at Osgoode.

  1. Advanced Business Law Workshop I: Corporate Finance (ABLW I)

ABLW isn’t your average law school course. Applicants must apply through the Clinics & Intensives applications and only 16 students are selected. However, if you can pass this first hurdle, then you’ll be taking the best course Osgoode has to offer.

The class takes place every Wednesday evening in a boardroom at the Davies office and will usually be conducted by three partners and one associate from Davies. I won’t lie to you, the course is tough and cold-calling isn’t out of the question. There is quite a bit of material to review for each class and there’s a list of maybe 20 questions per class that each student goes around answering (there’s no option to pass). The main evaluation method is through 3 assignments and the first is negotiating and drafting a loan agreement.

But the knowledge you gain about corporate finance from outside the purely academic perspective is worth the hard work. Plus, the last class has a nice little dinner party at The Shore Club.

  1. Legal Drafting (Professor Julia Shin-Doi)

Looking for a course that has no final exam and no research paper? Well this is your course. Don’t be intimidated by the 40% participation grade. All you have to do is attend 10 out of 12 classes, sit there, and submit a small drafting exercise at the end of the class. Plus, Professor Shin-Doi gives you time at the end of the class to complete the exercise, it’s done in groups, and you get the full marks just for completion.

I would say this course really prepared me for my summer at CBB (and this will likely apply anywhere you work). You go through all sorts of contracts (e.g. share purchase agreements, licensing agreements, purchase and sale agreements, etc.) and you go through the different components of contracts (e.g. the parties, recitals, boilerplate, etc.).

And if I haven’t sold you on Legal Drafting already, Professor Shin-Doi treated us to a delicious dinner for Lunar New Year.

  1. International Courts and Tribunals (Professor Obiora Chinedu Okafor)

I normally shy away from heavily academic or theoretical courses (which international law courses usually are) but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a class with Professor Obiora Okafor. Professor Okafor is a UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, as well as a professor at Osgoode and the York Research Chair in International Legal Studies.

In this class you will learn about various types of international courts and tribunals, who has standing before these courts, how the courts assert jurisdiction, the composition of the bench, and more.

This likely will not be the most relevant course in terms of my career, but it was definitely interesting to learn about how countries resolve disputes with each other. Professor Okafor is also probably the most engaging professor at Osgoode.

I realize in hindsight that this would probably have been more beneficial before the deadline to submit courses, but there’s always next year! … Unless you’re a 3L.

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First 2L Summer Student at Cassels Calgary

When I started here I did not know what to expect – I am the first student Cassels Brock’s Calgary office had hired in the 2L recruit for a summer position. Being at a newer and growing office, I was not sure what types of files I would get to work on. Would there be a volleyball team like the Toronto office?

Now that I am half way through my term, I still have not played any volleyball, but I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to work on a number of big and interesting files. These include: regulatory applications for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project with our Regulatory partner, CNRL’s $3.8 Billion purchase of Devon Energy assets with our Business Law partner and $100 million insolvency files with our Restructuring & Insolvency Group partner.

What is the common thread running through all these experiences? Our growing office has big and interesting files! I am also getting the opportunity to work directly with some really knowledgeable senior lawyers instead of working through a big hierarchy. Everyone has been great at involving me in their work, explaining the context behind it, and helping me develop my skills.

Now I just have to get that volleyball team going!

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Filed under Misc., OCI, West Coast Best Coast

Fashion Files 2019- 3rd Edition: CBB Style

The CBB hallways may as well be a New York Fashion Week runway with the outfits our summer students have been pulling out. Fashion is a way to show off your personality, and a work dress code doesn’t have to limit that expression. Whether it’s rocking a tailored suit or a dress and blazer, the CBB students have definitely mastered the art of dressing for success.

Zach Zittel – Bold and Trendy

How would you describe your style? That’s a very abstract question. I like to see my style as an expression of my personality.

Tips on dressing for the job? Don’t be shy. Wear something you’re comfortable in, but you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks. It’s easier to start out a little more conservative and then ease into some more bold choices.

Thoughts on casual Friday? I think it’s great. I’m not the biggest supporter/fan of such a formal work look, I think the legal industry is edging towards a more casual look. Casual gets a bad rep, but it’s actually really great for self-expression. You can be business-casual and still maintain a professional look.

Where do you like to shop for work? I have two suits I got made in Vietnam, and those are a solid foundation to work with. I get a variation of shirts from Club Monaco, J. Crew, Harry Rosen, and Muji.


Spencer Green – Big and Tall

How would you describe your style? Generally, I’m a big proponent of athleisure. I am almost always rocking at least one article of raptors gear (*journalist fact check – Spencer has been a Raptors fan long before the recent win), the second I leave the office, I throw on a raps sweater. What about at work? I keep it simple at work. I like to funk it up with my tie or socks – I’m a big funky socks guy.

Who is your style inspiration? I don’t have one – I just do me, I’m my own style inspiration.

Where do you like to shop for work? Suit Supply because they have a great big and tall section, and I am both big and tall. Banana republic has a great tall section too.

Comfort or style? No doubt about it, comfort. It’s so easy to find things that are comfortable and stylish. You’ve got to feel comfortable at work to do be able to sit down and get your work done. Being confident in yourself requires you to be comfortable with yourself, and that starts with what you’re wearing.

Simone Dreskler – Queen of Minimalism

How would you describe your style? Grab and go – all about easy, no-brainer mornings, so I try to get lots of neutrals that match each other.

Heels or flats? One-two inch block heel – just as comfortable as flats and feel a little more put together (even if it’s just an illusion).

Best accessory for a work outfit? Pockets!

When you’re not at work, you can be found in … Jeans and a t-shirt.

Kayla Smith – Fashion Forward

How would you describe your style? I wear what feeds my confidence. Few days call for suits, some days call for dresses, and other days I’ll wear a skirt and blouse.

Tips on dressing for the job? Don’t feel forced to wear the “typical work outfit” (or colours), whatever those are anyways. You can still be professional while shining in your personal style!

Number one fashion no-no? Wearing heels you can’t walk in.

Best dressed CBB employee? Peter Sullivan.

The general consensus seems to be keeping it comfortable – whether you like to rock a bold pattern to reflect your personality, or keep it simple and throw on the first thing you pull out of your closet. When shopping for work clothes, make sure the clothes you choose fit properly and can easily integrate with the rest of your wardrobe. You should always keep a spare shirt and blazer in your office – you never want to feel panicked if you get called into a last minute meeting with a client or accidentally spill coffee on your shirt. Cassels may be a law firm, but there’s  no fashion police to be scared of.


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by | June 21, 2019 · 2:58 pm