Yearly Archives: 2017

OCI Applications: Cover Letter, Resume & Final Tips

Since 5 PM on Monday August 21 is fast-approaching, our summer student group thought it would be beneficial to share some final tips of advice as you finalize your cover letters and resumes. We know the stress of uploading every document to the ViDesktop… making sure that every T is crossed and I is dotted.

Don’t fret! Considering the fact that all of us went through the exact same process last year, we thought we would share some of the key features/ elements of a successful cover letter.

1) Know yourself and be able to communicate your “theme” in your cover letter

The reader of your cover letter will be greatly impressed when they can draw connections between your resume and your cover letter. You want your cover letter to provide a strong sense of your personality, character, work ethic, and attitude. Every line you include in your cover letter should therefore have a purpose. Make sure you are drawing connections between the work experience and the skills you acquired during the experience.

For example, if you were a barista at Starbucks, do not waste valuable real estate on explaining the role of a barista. Everyone generally knows the roles and duties of a barista at a coffee shop. Do your best to communicate the lessons and skills you gained on the job, IE: “Over the past four years, I have worked as a barista at Starbucks Canada, where I was promoted from Jr. Server into a managerial role, overseeing roughly 15 employees. It was through this experience where I learned the value of working within a team-setting under tight deadlines.”

Already, as a reader, we would get the sense that you are team player who rose through the ranks based on hard work, dedication, and commitment. Do not be afraid to tell your story!

2) Be honest about your interests but do not pigeon hole yourself (if applying to a full-service firm).

At Cassels Brock, we are a full-service firm, which means that our lawyers practice all different types of law. Our advocacy and business groups consist of many sub-groups and practice areas. This structure is quite similar at other firms. As a reader, one would definitely want to see that you are interested in certain areas of the law. It shows that you have done your research and have selected courses that can somewhat prepare you for practice. At the same time; however, always keep an open mind.

Many of us wrote to Cassels something alone these lines: “I am interested in your franchise and intellectual property groups, but would welcome the opportunity to gain broad exposure to the various groups within advocacy and business law.”

3) Always include a paragraph on WHY the firm

We are sure that many, if not most of you, have attended various firm tours across the city over the course of the summer. While it may not be apparent to you just yet, you will notice (during in-firm interviews) that firms embody distinct cultures. Ultimately, many of you will be making decisions about your legal career based on a specific culture of a firm. If you have had the opportunity to speak with summer students/ articling students and/or lawyers from firms, be sure to mention some of the integral tidbits they shared about the firm in your cover letter. Always explain to the reader WHY you see yourself making a great addition to the firm and WHAT about the firm attracted you to apply. Do your best to communicate characteristics and/or features that are not directly mentioned on the website.

Were there certain diversity initiatives about the firm that you admired? Did a summer student speak about a work assignment that seemed exciting and intriguing? Did you speak to a recruiter about the unique qualities of the firm? Be sure to mention those key interactions/ conversations! It will benefit you in the long run, especially when you are able to put a name to a face during the interview process.


  • Use powerful active verbs such as “I managed,” “I facilitated,” “I organized.”
  • Maximum use of 3 bullets per experience.
  • Try to avoid high school involvement (unless it is inherently unique).
  • Be specific when describing your tasks.
  • Think carefully about your skills and interests section.

Final Tips

  • Be yourself! Everyone in this process values authenticity.
  • Know your personality- be able to recognize the type of firm/ working environment you are looking for (IE: smaller, medium, big, rotational summer program, flexible summer program, litigation, corporate, full-service).
  • Ask meaningful questions (Try not to ask lawyers questions that can be answered directly from the Cassels Brock website).
  • Use students as your resources from beginning to end (Call a friend who interviewed at Cassels prior to OCIs to learn more about the interview experience).

We wish all of you the best of the luck in the process. Our summer term ends Friday August 18th, 2017, but all of us would be happy to provide support and to answer any of your questions throughout the process!

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Summer Student Events: Looking Back

We can hardly believe there are only a few days left of our summer at the firm! Aside from the exciting files we got to work on, one of the highlights of our summer was definitely all the fun student events!

At the Open Roof Festival, an event that supports independent filmmakers and artists from Canada and around the world, we had the opportunity to get drinks and food with our mentors at the venue with live music. We also very much enjoyed watching the movie Get Out at the outdoor theatre later that evening!


The summer class also got to experience SoulCycle with Shannon the other day. Some of us are experienced cyclist. For some others, it was our first time biking in a long time. After an amazing and intense workout, we all headed to Four Seasons for breakfast.

And of course, the summer class went to an all-time favourite event – the Jays game!

We’re grateful for Shannon and the firm for organizing these events and making sure we’re all achieving a healthy work-life balance. These events provided great opportunities for the students to mingle with our mentors and other lawyers at the firm and were an invaluable part of our experience and development as a team.

Till next time,

Your 2017 Bloggers

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Fashion Files: August 11, 2017

With one week left for our Summer Students, we thought we would change things up a little bit with an outdoor shoot! Featured here are Ave Bross and Kojo Hayward…taking Bay Street to a whole new level!

Ave Bross

Suit-Strelson; Top- Strelson;  Shoes- Ecco

1) Who is your style inspiration?

I am definitely impressed with the outfits worn by Jacobin Mugatu.

2) What is your “go-to” signature item that you need to wear to work?

A nice tie and funky socks. It adds some character to the suit.

3) What advice can you give to students about choosing the right outfit for interviews?

The key for interviews is to wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking (and sometimes running) throughout interview week and the last thing you want is to be distracted because your feet are hurting and you have blisters. Invest in comfortable shoes so you can be ready for whatever comes your way!

4) What is your favourite store to shop at for business clothing?

The Bay and Banana Republic (for business-casual).

Kojo Hayward


Suit-Custom;  Shoes- Stacy Adams

1) Who is your style inspiration?

Dwayne Wade.

2) What is your “go-to” signature item that you need to wear to work?

A pocket watch.

3) What advice can you give to students about choosing the right outfit for interviews?

Don’t be afraid to look stylish, just save the most stylish (or loud) pieces in your closet for now. You can usually show as much personality as you want with socks, a moderate amount with your tie, but be as basic as your closet permits in your suit (Charcoal or Navy). If you have a simple shirt and tie combo, feel free to throw in a pocket square and/or tie clip. If you already “stand out” in your combo, consider ditching the pocket square and tie so your outfit does not appear too busy.

4) What is your favourite store to shop at for business clothing?

Nordstorms and the Bay at the change of seasons (Sales!).

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Lights, Cassels, Action: Live from CTV’s Your Morning

Sometimes, as a summer student, you strike gold. I’m not talking about closing a mining file. Two weeks ago, we received an email from Peter Henein with the subject line “FUN ASSIGNMENT (for reals!)” Luckily, I’m the only summer student with an interest in this area of the law, so I got the pleasure of taking this assignment.

Peter is a partner in the Advocacy practise group and specializes in the areas of intellectual property, product liability, and class actions. However, for the purposes of morning television, Peter would be doing a segment on the craziest, kookiest, Canadian laws still on the books. To help him prepare, I searched the hallows of the internet, everywhere from Canada’s Criminal Code to the bylaws of small towns to the Federal Maple Syrup Regulations. Here is a glimpse of what I came up with:

  1. In Petrolia, Ontario, the self proclaimed “Greatest Town on Earth”, there are noise by laws that prohibit sounds from toy engines, a pet’s barking and even whistling or shouting.
  2. It’s illegal to attach a siren to your bike in Sudbury, Ontario.
  3. According to Section 365 of Canada’s Criminal Code, it is illegal to pretend to practice witchcraft – this prohibits “everyone who fraudulently pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery or enchantments.” The ban also includes anyone who fraudulently practices fortune telling.
  4. Oak Bay’s by laws make it illegal to keep a caged bird whose frequent noises could disturb the peace and enjoyment of other individuals.
  5. Duelling, or even challenging someone to duel, is a criminal offence in Canada punishable by jail time.

Finally, it was time for Peter’s debut and he invited me to accompany him to CTV studios. We were ushered in by a kind staff and stage crew and before we knew it Peter was live.

Sock game on point while running lines.


CTV’s craft services – no rival to 4pm snack at Cassels.


Peter getting mic’d.


Peter live with host Melissa Grelo.


A star is born.


All joking aside, Peter was eloquent, engaging and accessible. As a seasoned litigator, Peter explained to me that the art of public speaking is creating a conversation, not delivering a presentation. Advocacy skills are transferable to every forum and serve a lawyer well in front of a judge and in front of a camera. I expressed to Peter early on that I was hesitant to try litigation. Over the course of this assignment, he took the time to give me great advice, debunk some common litigation misconceptions, and encouraged me to try a rotation during articling. While I’ve be able to do some really interesting work this summer, this assignment may be the most memorable. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to working with Peter next year as an articling student.

But enough about me, I know what you’re all thinking – what’s next for Peter Henein? Word at the firm is that he’s been fielding calls from Hollywood all afternoon. So, summer students of today and tomorrow, if you see Peter around the halls of Cassels, no flash photography, please, but I hear if you ask really nicely, he might sign an autograph.



Check out Peter’s segment below!

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Carnival on Bay St.

Yesterday several members of Cassels Brock were proudly in attendance at “Carnival on Bay Street”, a cocktail reception in celebration of the National Bar Association’s visit to Toronto. The event was hosted by Black Partners on Bay Street, a network of Black partners at leading business law firms in Toronto who are dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion on Bay Street and more broadly in the legal profession.

Photograph: Kojo Hayward and Tristan Davis (2nd and 3rd students from the right) posing with several other students on Bay St. at the event.

Kojo Hayward, one of our fellow summer students, beautifully summarized the event:

“It was phenomenal to see the joy, positivity, and excellence in the room. The crowd was brilliant and beautiful. The food was delicious and plentiful. The music was upbeat and cheerful. The vibe at the event was perfect.

It was powerful to witness so many black lawyers, at various stages of their career, from various jurisdictions in North America, both meeting new people and building on existing relationships. It was also powerful to share the moment with several lawyers of other races. While diversity is far from close to being truly realized, the Carnival on Bay Street event was a comforting reminder that there are a number of trailblazers leading the way and allies supporting the push.”

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