Yearly Archives: 2009

How my Summer has Changed Me

By Adrian W.

While my personality/life has not undergone a profound change this summer, I have noticed some changes in my life that I believe are directly attributable to my summer experience.

1) I have become a morning gym person and I mean 6am weekday mornings not 11am weekend mornings. Crazy I know!

2) I cannot enjoy movies like Duplicity because of the inaccurate portrayal of the shareholders meeting in the movie.

3) When I go places after work in my suit, I do not always have to show my ID. I no longer look like I am in undergrad!

4) I can better understand the business section of the Globe and Mail.

5) I now mostly go shopping for business attire instead lululemon clothes.

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Just saying no.

By Rishi H.

Summer students—and, I am told, articling students and associates—sometimes have a hard time tactfully turning down work. I have also heard that it is necessary to learn how to do it, to avoid taking on too much and disappointing your assigning lawyers.

Once you figure out that you need to turn down a work assignment, here are two tips I came across for how to do it.

One is to communicate to the lawyer asking you to take on new work what your prior commitments are and which lawyers you are working for. That way the new lawyer can try to work something out with the other lawyers. The upside is that the different lawyers can resolve the conflicting demands on your time. The downside is that, if done improperly, this can seem as if you are “pulling rank”, especially if the new lawyer is junior to those you are already working for.

The second tip passed my way is to not expressly decline an assignment but to clearly communicate your prior commitments and discuss the amount of time you can put in. Sometimes the lawyer can modify the assignment to make it possible for you to take it on. One hitch is that to do this you will need to be on top of your schedule and able to realistically estimate how long assigned tasks will take.

Those two tips will not always help you out, but hopefully they can be of use at some point. I have to admit that I have never really tried out the first, but the second one has worked from time to time.

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Blogdriver’s Waltz

By Colin P.

As you may have noticed, blog entries have been a tad sparser than usual, and inasmuch as I am to blame, I apologize. It’s not that we’ve forgotten about you, dear reader; we’ve just had a few things come up. Cassels Brock has been fortunate enough to have been hit with a couple sizable projects that have kept the summer student troupe firmly on “Red”.

For those unfamiliar with the colour code system, allow me to explain. Students designate their availability by identifying with one of three colours, which are entered into the internal network. When a lawyer needs assistance, they can consult a student’s status and readily determine how busy you are.

Setting yourself to “Green” means that you’re looking for work, or perhaps you’re just feeling Irish. Either way, selecting “Green” means that assignments will begin to pile up on your desk. By selecting “Blue”, you’re first and foremost expressing your appreciation of Joni Mitchell. But beyond that, you are communicating that you have work to do, but could probably manage a little more on your plate. A “Red” status indicates that you’re chained to your desk and can’t possibly accept anymore work. From my own personal experience I have found a wonderfully guilty correlation between being set to “Red” and late night burrito consumption at my desk.

Being busy cuts both ways. On the positive side, being busy provides greater and more diverse learning opportunities. Perhaps more importantly, you learn how to learn in a high pressure environment. An added bonus is that the days never linger (I frequently find myself reverse-clockwatching, which is like clock-watching, except you want it to be earlier, not later in the day).

Of course there are downsides to being busy. Excessive bouts of desk-jockeying tend to provoke a bittersweet yearning for more comfortable attire. I’m told that pajamas are frowned upon in the legal community, but I haven’t actually tested this theory. I also miss sunlight a bit (but not that much because I burn easily), but that’s what student golf day is for! More about this later.

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When “Improvements” are actually a Detriment

By Adrian W.

I recently acted as an independent corporate secretary for an annual shareholders meeting. My main responsibility was to prepare the Minutes of the meeting. I was provided with a script of the meeting and I was supposed to convert the script into the proper Minutes format, which sounded easy enough, but since this was the first time I had ever done this, I decided to search our database for precedents. As I began to look through the precedents I noticed that most of the precedents had used more formal language than what was used in the script. I incorporated some of the language from the precedents into the Minutes. I also decided to make the Minutes document look more proper and put it in our memo template with the Cassels Brock letterhead on it.

I then handed the lawyer what I thought was a complete (and improved) set of Minutes. After reading the first page of the Minutes, he came back to me and asked me what I had done to the Minutes. It turned out that by changing some of the words I had actually created an inaccurate set of Minutes. Each company has its own set of articles and by-laws that govern the conduct of the company’s meetings and so some companies may require more formal language and procedures to dispense with the reading of notice, or to introduce resolutions. That is why to try and use the exact language of another company’s set of Minutes could be wrong. It also turns out that I cannot have a company’s minutes on firm letterhead. This lesson is something I am still playfully being mocked for today.

In law you often have to be very precise with your language and so if you try to make the language sound more formal, you might actually be changing its meaning and that may make the document inaccurate, rather than better.

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Bikes for Tykes

By: Joanna L.

On Wednesday June 23rd, the Cassels Brock summer-students put on their best (spandex) and participated in the 10th annual Bikes for Tykes event. Though it was the hottest day of the summer thus far, the two Cassels teams were ready to go.

Bikes for Tykes is a yearly fundraising event for the Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre. This year, over $210,000 was raised by law firm student groups and other corporate participants. Through the generous support of our firm, the summer-students raised $2310! As part of Bikes for Tykes, all teams raising $2,000 or more had the total amount raised by their team matched in support of Bloorview Kids Rehab – dollar for dollar. This means that double the amount going to help the kids from Bloorview Kids Rehab. This year, an incredible 11 teams exceeded the $2,000 in funds raised.

Being my first ‘Bay Street Event,’ I was incredibly impressed by the organization, enthusiasm and dedication that was put into the day. Approximately 65 spinning bikes lined the TD Courtyard and were mounted by the Bikes for Tykes participants. Each team member exerted themselves through a one-hour spinning class taught by two instructors, who rotated hourly. The event lasted from 10:00am – 2:00pm and thus eight Cassels students furiously rode for this wonderful cause.

To say the least, the spinning class was not a typical one. Prizes such as t-shirts, hats and posters were distributed throughout the hour, as well as constant refills on water and sunscreen. A special addition to this was that some of the kids from Bloorview actually attended the event. These brave children were there to cheer on the teams and hand out fruit to the participants as they finished their rides.

Overall, Bikes for Tykes was a major success. The commitment of the riders, volunteers and sponsors made the event a truly memorable one.

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