So long, farewell…

I am sad to report that this will be our final blog post for the summer!  I think I speak on behalf of all of the bloggers and guest bloggers when I say that we had an amazing summer at CBB.

…That being said, we’re definitely looking forward to enjoying what’s left of summer and, for most of us, completing our final year of law school!

A quick recap of our most memorable moments of the summer:

  • Our “Game of Thrones”-esque experience at Medieval Times;
  • Tasting the homemade ice cream at Mark Young’s BBQ;
  • Luke and his flying burger at the TFC game;
  • Fundraising for CAMH and eating more candy in 4 months than I have in my 20+ years of existence;
  • Eating so many cupcakes that it I think my heart palpitates everytime I see one now;
  • Belinda flipping over the box of summer/articling student cupcakes;
  • Cooking up a storm at Great Cooks on Eight;
  • Deborah’s garden party;
  • …and of course…Ke$ha.

On behalf of the summer students, I’d like to wish our readers going through OCIs this fall all the best.  Thank you for allowing us to share our summer experiences with you!

Until next year,

Jessica

Guest Post: Len’s Pre Trial Extravaganza

Early on in the summer Len and I were given the opportunity to attend a pre-trial for a litigation file we were working on. Unfortunately I was too busy and only Len got to go, so I made him promise to write a guest post for the blog describing his experience. So without further ado, here is Len’s post on his amazing pre-trial experience:

Guest Blogger: Len Loewith

Blogging! What a great chance to write down my feelings. It’s like that diary I never kept, but open to everyone!

In all seriousness, I came into this summer at CBB wanting to get as much hands on litigation experience as possible. I have always had a strong interest in advocacy, and figured diving right into it would be the only way to determine if this is something I want to pursue as a career.

Fortunately for me, the team here at CBB is very open to giving summer students hands-on experience, and the litigation group has some of the best opportunities available. On my second day of work I went along to the Commercial List (a specialized commercial/insolvency court) and was in chambers with a well-known insolvency judge. The next week I travelled to St. Catherine’s to appear on a matter in traffic court (I know, I know, it’s just traffic court, but I still got to speak to the judge – it all counts – and also, I’m 1-0!). I’ve also tagged along for discoveries and shadowed a mediator on a full day mediation, to name a few of the experiences I’ve had this summer. 

My favourite experience came as a result of some basic case law research Max and I had been asked to do for an employment/business law litigation file. The matter was proceeding to a pre trial (essentially a mediation that takes place in front of a judge – nothing actually binding, but they try to work out the conflict and avoid the very high legal fees resulting from a two-week trial if no resolution is reached.) This takes place at the courthouse and is technically in chambers, although the “chambers” for this purpose is a boardroom that seats 10 people.

Stock legal image / the first result of a Google search for “Pre-Trial”

The judge we were in front of is infamous in litigation circles – well known for doing whatever it takes to reach a settlement: no food breaks, no bathroom breaks, keep you there until 3AM if necessary. I sat at the back of the room to observe, but was immediately called out by the judge. “Mr. Loewith, do you want to learn anything today?” Of course I did. “Then sit at the damn table.” With that, we were off and running.

The judge fired a few questions at different parties in the proceeding, trying to get a grasp of what the exact issue was. The whole ordeal degenerated into a yelling match between family members that, at times, became very personal. Throughout, the judge just sat back, shushing the lawyers when they tried to intervene, and allowing the families to air our their grievances. As things cooled off, the judge simply passed around a blank piece of paper for everyone to take. When I tried to avoid taking one, I was again scolded into participating. When she said “Everyone write down a number that they think would be a fair settlement,” I jumped. Write down a number? I don’t even understand employment law yet, let alone costs, damages, etc. How would I ever come up with an accurate number? And how seriously was she taking these suggestions. Luckily, I think I was somewhat in the ballpark on the number.

The day continued with the parties haggling about numbers, the judge telling them how stupid it would be to go to trial, etc. By 6:30 PM, we had reached a settlement. Not too bad actually, only 8.5 hours and we were out of there. First, for the much needed bathroom break. Then food.

Pre trials are an important step in litigation proceedings. Clients really can save a significant sum of money by avoiding trial. Not all are as crazy as the one I got to be a part of (or so I’m told). Either way, it was a good real world experience that I won’t be forgetting for a while.

Transition Report

Posted by Jeremy Bornstein

 

The first day the articling students return to work is a glorious day in the life of a summer student. It reminds me of the last day of exams. The grass is greener, the air is fresher and the sun is hotter. This year’s articling class, however, seems more eager than the last. They are making every effort to take on as much work as possible, leaving the summer students with nothing to do. The result has been abysmal.

For example, summer student, Luke Gill, has been outraged by the turn of events. After being harassed to pass on his files, he has demanded to work late nights until the last day of his term. He threatened one articling student, “You want my work? My work? No! It’s your turn to be lazy, I chilled my brains out at the beginning of the summer and now I just want to learn.” Following this comment, several articling students proceeded to docket 45 minutes to “Set up voicemail.”

Other summer students, on the other hand, did not have the same resolve as Mr. Gill. One student, who asked to remain anonymous lamented, “I sent myself mail. Actually. I put it in an envelope for delivery and acted surprised when I got it. I miss feeling important. I miss the thrill of a deadline. I can’t. This is too much.” This particular summer student’s work was stolen by an articling student during a bathroom break. She now sits in an office all day chit chatting and dilly dallying, overcome by guilt every time the internet browser opens to a new page.

When asked about the situation, first year summer student, Laura McGee, who left last Friday stated, “I knew this would happen. I couldn’t handle the pressure of doing nothing all day, so I bounced.”

Alas, other summer students have maintained a steady load. They have enjoyed the thrills of down time without the chills of a workless wasteland. This ultimate balance is a sacred art, which only the most advanced summer students possess. I asked Bryan Woodman how he reached this summer student utopia. He responded, “I just discovered Nestea.” 

Yet another sad tale of surrender

Note: Just kidding!

 

Law Firm Recruitment, Part Deux

Dear Potential Applicants,

Since Leigh-Ann suggested speaking to upper year students in Justin’s helpful interview below, I thought I would solicit some advice from our very own summer students! 

Here we go!

Brittany: “Know your resume cold. Have an anecdote for each experience. Many interviewers will pick the most obscure thing on your resume and run with it. During many of my OCIs I was asked about my volunteer experience at the Humane Society. I thought the interviewers would want to discuss my professional work experience but many firms are interested in getting to know who you are outside of work and school.  Also, prepare for typical interview questions. You will be asked in almost every OCI the following questions: Why law school? Why litigation/corporate? Why our firm? Ask yourself these questions before OCIs. Throughout this process you will learn a lot about yourself.”

Stephen: “When interviewing (whether during OCIs or in-firms), be the best you.  You don’t need to be the loudest, smartest, funniest or most interesting person.  Just be personable and try to connect with your interviewers.”

Justin: “During in firms, it’s against the LSUC rules for firms to make offers prior to 5:00pm on offer day. However, if you do feel pressure (either subtle or overt) at the end of an interview to make some kind of verbal commitment, have an escape answer prepped. Mine was something along the lines of “I’m extremely interested in your firm, and wouldn’t be here otherwise. Thank you so much for this opportunity, I just want to make sure I take some time to digest all of this information. I’ll be sure to keep you informed.” You want firms to know you are very interested, if you legitimately are – but never tell a firm they are your top choice if that’s not 100% true. IF you are uncomfortable with “committing” on the spot – don’t bend to any pressure to do so. Go home, decompress, and think about it for a bit. You can always call to say “you’re my number 1” later.”

This mysterious individual request to remain “Anonymous” (“what a weirdo”): “I would say it is important to know what you are looking for in a firm. After that it is just a matter of being able to recognize it among the options available. Going to firm tours, firm events, and getting in contact with lawyers throughout the firm is a great way to get a sense of whether you would fit in. Good luck!”

Clara: “Don’t buy your suit the weekend before your interview. Hem your pants. Tailor your suit. Work your shoes in before your interview. Practise sitting, walking and standing in your shoes and outfit. Take out the stitches from the back of your blazer and/or pencil skirt. Boys, get your hair cut a couple weeks before. Relax your shoulders. Eye contact. Smile and enjoy the process because there’s nothing like it.”

Like the champ he is, Jeremy has three pieces of advice for you:

  1. Your application package should hit on as many quality that employers are looking for that you can show (e.g. teamwork, leadership, communication skills, hard work, attention to detail, etc.).
  2. Stay positive and calm through the process. If you react in an extreme way, you’ll have extreme feelings and people will be able to see that.
  3. Wear solid white or light blue shirt and a navy or charcoal suit (that fits… properly). This won’t make or break you, but bay street law has a conservative and crisp image – if you want to fit in, make it look like you’d fit in. 

Steph: “Don’t forget your hair gel…no seriously, bring hairspray too. And don’t stand near any candles—hairspray is flammable.”  Of course this girl would write about hair. 

Tali: “When booking  in-firm interviews, make sure to leave enough time in between each interview (at least 30 minutes). This will allow you to breath and re-focus, instead of rushing from one interview to the next.”

Sam: “Ok, so…remember to brush your teeth in the morning? Don’t drink too much at the parties? Remember to send thank yous?”  Questions or statements?  Sam is so hard to read. 

Belinda: “Have fun! As we all know, interviews and applications, on top of class, studying, and oh – this thing called a personal life – can cause us students a lot of stress. The one tip I would have for any potential applicant is to try and enjoy the entire recruitment process! I agree, no one really loves writing cover letters or reading your resume 1000000 times to make sure there aren’t any typos… but the whole idea of recruitment is to meet new people and, yes, have fun! You’ll want to find a place that is right for you; where you will enjoy working with the people around you. I personally believe that looking at your applications and interviews as a means to an end might not always be the best mindset. I think the best way to get the most out of recruitment is to have fun, meet lawyers, mingle with your peers, and get to know the culture at the firms while being pampered with good food and drink (even if you might be too anxious to eat or drink).”

Jake: “The three day in-firm interview period seems like an eternity while you are in it. Looking back, it is just three days of your life! So relax and have fun with it because three days over the course of a lifetime is nothing.”

Jess: “OCIs can be a whirlwind!  Of course you’ll be prepared with all the typical stuff like great questions, a sharp suit, and breath mints but to help make the process easier on you, here are a few tips to get you through the day long (or two day long for some of you) speed dating challenge:

  • Prepare cue cards or a short summary of each firm to refresh your memory in the 3 minutes between interviews.
  • Write little notes or key words on the back of the interviewers’ business cards to help you recall what you spoke about during the interview – it will help you personalize your thank you e-mails later (when your brain is fried from the day) and make you a bit more memorable!
  • Breathe and smile!

Kyle: “My advice would be to do the leg work and know as much as possible about each firm that you are interviewing with and contact summer and articling students at those firms to ask any questions you may have, and they can also give you an idea of what it’s like to work at that firm. Beyond that, try and get as much sleep as possible the night before, remember to eat and drink throughout the day, and do your best to keep everything in perspective. A little caffeine here and there doesn’t hurt either.”

Max: “Show up early for OCIs. Get to the place where interviews are happening at least a few minutes before your first one and just get a sense of how the process works and where everyone is sitting. This might not be easy if you have an interview first thing in the morning, but it’s really helpful to have a lay of the land before you get started. You don’t want to be the eager applicant for the Toronto office who walks into the booth for the Vancouver one. Stuff like that doesn’t look good, and it can throw you off your game. Just be prudent and show up with enough time to make sure you don’t make that kind of sloppy mistake. This can be a bit of a double edged sword though, so when showing up early be careful how you talk to people. Many students get (understandably) nervous about OCIs so you don’t want to inadvertently say something that makes someone feel bad/worse. Equally you don’t want to let someone else’s experience impact your own: “What’s that you say? You have thirty six interviews today? My my, you must be a much more competitive candidate than me, I only have a measly four…” The whole OCI process can be stressful for everyone, and that manifests itself in different forms for different people. Don’t be the jerk who makes someone feel down just before they go into an interview, and don’t let it happen to you. You’re best off to just keep your head down and get through the whole thing, then debrief with your friends (and hopefully future colleagues) afterwards.”

Luke: “Assume nothing. You have probably heard that certain firms care about certain things and others don’t. Chances are, despite all of your firm research, you don’t necessarily know what a given firm is looking for. Or, even if you do, that firm has a much more diverse group of people than you think. Better to be open-minded and willing to actually engage with your interviewers than to assume Firm X wants to hear all about your clinical work, whereas Firm J wants to hears all about your research. And forget about your grades – once you have an interview, that is more or less over and done with.”

Bryan: “Remember the names of ALL the lawyers you meet, as you will inevitably get asked ‘So who have you met with so far?'”

Len: “Be prepared to talk about yourself, but don’t be afraid to admit when you’re not familiar with an aspect of the profession. Good questions show you’re willing to learn. At in firm interviews and cocktails, get to know the other student applicants, not just the lawyers. You never know who you’ll end up working with, and people really notice how you interact with each other.”

Yet another student has requested anonymity: “Drink lots of water during OCI day and in-firm interviews—you talk a lot and it’s a long day so don’t underestimate the power of hydration [Editor’s note: I bet this guy knows a thing or two about hydration]! Also, don’t fret about saying the same thing over and over again. You are meeting new people all day long and they have no idea that you’ve answered the question of, “Why the law?” the exact same way 15 times before. Just relax and speak naturally and let your personality shine through.”

Laura:  Do not make fun of any posters hung on a partner’s wall.  You never know who might be a client.  Also, if you’re funny, embrace it.  It’s a long day for the interviewers as well, and humour is the best way to make it more pleasant.

That’s it for now!  If you’re planning on applying to Cassels this fall and have questions, please feel free to contact any one of us!  Our information can be found here.

Learning to cook with the Great Cooks on Eight!

A few weeks back the summer students and a few lawyers went out to Great Cooks on Eight in the Simpson Tower (it’s on the eighth floor, geddit?). There we were taught to cook a few gourmet dishes that we then enjoyed together. It was sort of a fancy, supervised potluck kind of affair, instructed by the amazing Great Cooks staff (who, lets be real, were equally there to make sure we didn’t kill ourselves).

“I mean yes, you could serve the crab meat tartare… But should you?
Knife Safety 101

Some of the great dishes we learned to cook included crab cakes, bruschetta, baked salmon, and red velvet cake. They all turned out fantastically, although truth be told I heard that the red velvet cake had to be recooked by the Great Cooks staff before they would let us eat it. But then that could just be a nasty rumour spread by the overly-competitive bruschetta team. People got really serious about their dishes.

Lawyers hard at work on the red velvet cake
How many law students does it take to prepare a main course? One, so long as he has five others to “supervise”

We’ve had a lot of great and unique experiences this summer, and Great Cooks on Eight was no exception! We enjoyed some great company and some nice wine, learned to cook something new, and then were treated to a fantastic meal! 10/10, would go again!

Great Cooks on Eight: Cassels Tested, Dom Approved