Author Archives: Alec

Summer Students at Leisure

As the summer winds down, the buzz amongst the summer students is where everyone will spend their hard earned, precious weeks of idleness before school starts. Below is a list of everyone’s current plans:

Jess: Going to California: vineyards, surfing, and spending that hard earned cash. Through shopping, hopes to single-handedly solve California’s debt crisis.

Steve: Going to vegas, to roll the blackjack tables. Table name: Rooster DeVille.

Pat: Will act as a modern Henry David Thoreau, camping by himself in the Californian wilderness. He also hopes to find a taco truck.

Victoria: A stay-cation in Ajax, Ontario. Or in her own words, she’s going to “relax in the ‘Jax”.

Chris: Going back to the land in Newcastle, Ontario. Powering up for the next year of school. 

Carly: Heading to Barcelona for Spanish classes before her exchange semester starts.

Joel: At the moment, has grand plans to visit a friend in Sierra Leone for a couple weeks. Barring that: Lindsay, Ontario.

Carla: Currently in Thunder Bay getting her Chartered Accountant designation, adding yet more letters to her name.

Anita: Indulging in a foodie’s retreat to Chicago. Plans to observe the CBB tradition of Hot Dog Fridays at Wrigley Field.

Ardy: Already in Signapore for exchange – may choose never to return.

Jared: Working until the Friday before school starts. In the intervening weekend, he hopes to catch up on a summer’s worth of Jersey Shore.  

Azim: To Amsterdam, for an exchange semester.

Alec: Diving the deeps in Belize with law school friends.

Caitlin: Observing her FWOs (family wedding obligations) in King City. 

Monique: Going to Johannesburg, South Africa to eat some chow bunnies.

Laura: Touring Ireland with friends.

Stephanie: A family vacation in Miami, to observe the holy trinity of relaxing: tanning, beaches, Pina Coladas.

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OCI Applications: Tips and Tricks

I’ve avoided it for some time: writing a post that offers advice on the OCI application process for incoming second-year students. That topic seems to be the dominant theme of our blog (and, if you look at our stats, the dominant draw for readership), so in the interest of relevance I thought I would offer you some tips and tricks on the OCI application process.

Be sure to emphasize experiences that are relevant. Take a look at your resume. Sure it’s impressive that you completed a weekend course in self-portrait crochet back in 1998; but is it impressive to people who matter? Your resume and cover letter are one of the only chances you get to secure an OCI. Cram them with relevance, and discard anything that has nothing to do with your suitability for work at a law firm.

Have informed expectations about the summer experience. A certain friend of mine, let’s call him Mr. Orange, thought it was a good idea to emphasize in his cover letter that he really looked forward to client contact as a summer student. He was surprised when not a single firm discussed his interest during interviews.

The truth is, summer students will not have a great deal of client contact (although it does happen), so expressing a heady interest in that aspect of work was not the best use of Mr. Orange’s cover letter and resume. Make sure you fully understand the job of the summer student before trying to talk about how much you’d like to have one; that way you’ll be able to maximize the relevance and impact of your cover letter and resume.   

Don’t discriminate. Apply to a large number of firms and worry about paring them down later. There’s no sense in limiting yourself this early in the game. Unless, of course, you know you only want to work at CBB.

Double-check your references. If you’re going to mention someone on your cover letter, ensure well in advance that they are comfortable with it. Instead of adding punch to your application, an inappropriate or unacknowledged name-drop on your cover letter can really harm your chances. A surprising amount of applicants make this error.

Proofread. Their’s nothing wrong with pour grammer and spelling, butt it distracts from the massage.  

Hopefully these tips help you along the way. Don’t forget that there are loads of other resources available, and that almost all of the third year students at your law school have gone through the same experience. Good luck!

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Grant the Indemnitee

It was almost 50 degrees yesterday. That kind of heat can justify pretty much any behaviour. In that spirit, I’m taking leave of the serious tone this blog has taken over the past days and bringing you some good old-fashioned entertainment. With a legal lesson, of course.

An “indemnity” is security or protection against a future loss or other financial burden. An “indemnitee” is one who receives an indemnity. An “indemnity” also refers to a sum paid as compensation. These words are indistinguishable in speech, and their use in the same phrase can give rise to hilarious “Who’s on first?” scenarios around the office:

Abbott: Did we grant the indemnity?

Costello: Grant the indemnitee? I thought his name was George?

Abbott: No, George was the indemnitor – he secured the indemnity.

Costello: Secured him? What was wrong with him?

Abbott: With who?

Costello: The indemnitee.

Abbott: Grant?

Costello: Yep, we just got the papers. Although I’m worried George might refuse to pay.

Abbott: Refuse to pay what?

Costello: The indemnity.

Abbott: To who?

Costello: The indemnitee.

Abbott: Right. But to whom will he pay it?

Costello: The indemnitee.

Abbott: Wait – you mean Grant the indemnitee?

Costello: I told you, we just got the papers.


Happy Friday!

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Last night the gang headed out to take in a Jays game. It was a spirited contest, with the Jays winning 16-7. Even baseball insider Chris Selby (also a summer student when he’s not being a baseball insider) was impressed. Check out the photos below for a glimpse into our evening. Enjoy!

Warm-up: Enjoying a "sporty" dinner in the boardroom.

Taking in the match. Go Jays!

  Continue reading “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” »

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A Matter of Scale

The first stage of the U of T course selection process ended yesterday morning (hopefully if you go to U of T you are aware of this already), and the passing of the deadline has reminded me that the summer, for better or worse, will soon be over. School brightens (or blights?) the near horizon. At this time I can’t help but consider the differences between the student lifestyle and the firm lifestyle.

I think a good way to sum it up is this: scale. There are many skills familiar to both the student-at-law and the student proper. Research, analysis, writing, communication – all are relevant. However, the student-at-law works in an environment where everything is bigger (or at least it seems that way). The stakes are higher. The learning curve is curvier. Deadlines seem deadlier.

It’s important to point out that this can be both good and bad. The intellectual payoff to really committing to a big assignment at work – ie, the amount you actually take away in the end – is huge compared to what you get when you strategically ignore your Torts paper until the night before and hand in ill-researched dross. Being forced by the big-firm environment to delve right in can be extremely rewarding.

But it can also be overwhelming. The virtues of firm life are easily lost on the summer student surrounded by deadlines. These are the times when the easy ways of student-hood seem irresistible, and the prospect of their return brings some comfort.

In the end, however, I think the step into the firm environment is a step worth taking. There are challenges, but the rewards and the sense of progression are enough to convince us all to keep at it. So if you intend to pursue a job at a firm (CBB, or anywhere) and are feeling unsure, keep in mind that it’s all just a matter of scale.

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