Author Archives: Caroline Durran

A bring-down comfort letter to Arts Undergrads:

Dear Arts Undergrads:

Right now, you are probably combing over your resume, writing your cover letter, and going on a thousand and one firm tours in an attempt to wrap your head around the beast that is the 2L recruitment process. A beast it is– and made a little more beastly if the accomplishments on your resume showcase (awesome) things like ‘Poetry Contest Winner’ and ‘Star of High School Musical’ (if you are Zac Efron, you should probably be reconsidering your decision to apply anyway), rather than “Winner of Widget Case Competition” or “CFA Level 3.”

The idea of working at a business law firm can be intimidating for some students without any previous exposure to the business world. The world of M&A, CBCA, and a bajillion other acronyms can be totally foreign to a 1L student fresh out of nothing but Torts, Constitutional, Crim, Property and a Bachelor of Arts.

You may have a bit of a steeper learning curve ahead of you than the Ivey kids in some areas, but you will get there.

Yesterday, I was asked what the definition of ‘working capital’ was. The Arts student in me saw the terms ‘working’ and ‘capital’ and my brain started spewing ‘Marx!’ ‘I don’t know but I can give you a post-modernist deconstructionist essay on the term!!!’

I could give a vague answer, but didn’t really know what I was talking about. The associate I was speaking with gave me a thorough and clear explanation of the term, which was neither terribly confusing nor intimidating.

The most important thing I have learned so far this summer is to always ask questions. Lawyers don’t find it annoying (as long as you are not asking the same question multiple times)- they encourage and expect it from you. You are hired here as a student– you are here to learn. The more you ask, the more you’ll learn, and the more effective you’ll be.

Here are a few ‘trade secrets’ that have helped me get by so far this summer (really, these are applicable to anyone):

  • Wikipedia is your friend. Not as a definitive answer, but it is a great starting point for many things, and can help you tailor the questions you’ll ask.
  •  Read The Economist and New York Times DealBook. Mostly because reading The Economist will make you a better human being, but the NYT DealBook has a great section called ‘Deal Professor’ that will discuss the legal/regulatory impact of big deals and decisions. It’s very readable and can help you understand basic corporate structures and transactions.
  • Read PLTC (for BC) or Continuing Legal Education materials. And this is an obvious one, but take relevant courses in law school. I thought I could get away with delaying Corporations until my third year because I didn’t get a spot in the class, and that was a big mistake.
  •  MD&A is not a drug. It is actually your friend; essentially, it is a company’s financial statements, translated into (relatively) plain English so that people like us can understand a company’s financial and operations narrative.

Of other students and lawyers that I have come across at Cassels, I have met music majors, art history majors, biology majors and yes, business majors. They are all great lawyers.

Don’t underestimate your value. Just last week, Deborah Glatter (who will probably be reading your application), gave a seminar on the vital importance of good writing in legal practice. At the end of the day, writing is a lawyer’s trade product. Throughout your arts undergrad, you have learned to be eloquent, analytical, concise and have (hopefully) learned the proper usage of a semicolon. Those are all skills that will serve you well.

Recognize that this whole thing is a serious learning process for everyone, and each will face their own challenges. Keep asking questions and sooner than you know, you will be at the point where you understand the cheesy pun in the title of this blog post!

Yours in the mutually inclusive pursuit of eloquence and business smarts,

Caroline (B.A. International Relations)

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Vancouver hits the links

In Vancouver, we know how to Friday.

Last Friday afternoon, in honour of Deborah Glatter (Director of Professional Development & Student Program)’s visit to the fairer coast, we took a field trip to the Stanley Park Pitch and Putt- an 18 hole golf extravaganza that lies somewhere between the realm of mini-putt and Pebble Beach.

Pitch and Putt is the chameleon of golf courses. Into driving? With a little skill, you can skip most of your short game and just put a ball on the green in one shot. Into putting? If you’re like me, you can say goodbye to hopes of watching your ball sail into the blue sky, but with some brute force, you can just putt all the way to the finish! Into shirtless golfing? They have that, too.

Full disclosure: I am a terrible golfer. Deborah made the same claim, but after watching a suspicious and sizeable improvement after only few holes I began to think that maybe we had been hustled.

Mike is a great golfer. He also has the patience of a saint.  As can be seen in the exhibit displayed below, Coach Mike spent most of the afternoon a) wearing a t-shirt that was too small for him, b) rustling around in the shrubbery looking for our misdirected golf balls, and c) coaching us on our athletic golf swing stances.

mr. brownCoach Mike, looking disparagingly into the distance as he ponders what awaits him in the shrubbery as he hunts for golf balls led astray. 

carolineI hit my ball so far in the wrong direction that it went to Jurassic Park. Note dino-sized leaves. Photo taken shortly before velociraptor chase.


LPGA ready. Look at that stance.

Pitch and Putt was a fantastic way to spend a Friday afternoon, and we capped it off with the Vancouver Office’s Friday afternoon tradition of beverages on the balcony, followed by dinner at L’Abattoir (a delicious restaraunt that is not too hipster, but hipster enough that the walls are exposed brick and they serve their pork shoulder on a bed of kale. Nom nom nom).

We just started the renovation process to take over the rest of the 22nd floor out here…you know you want to come visit!





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West Coast Wednesday: M&A poetry

In the spirit of Vancouver being Canada’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific, I bring you haiku.


plan of arrangement

mining transaction last week

folders, all purple.


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West Coast Wednesday: Volume 1


Here at CBB we are really into alliteration, and being cheesy, so welcome to West Coast Wednesday: your weekly update from the Best Coast.

After a fantastic Orientation Week in the Toronto office, Mike and I handed in our Scotia Plaza security cards and ventured west, where the air is fresher, the grass is greener (OK, it rains a lot…), and the students get partner size offices.

For all you Vancouverites, Vancouver students (and jealous Torontonians)…welcome to the unofficial curated photo tour of our sweet digs.

Reception! What we lack in cookies we make up for in windows, mountains and pretty sweet art. Also, it is very echo-ey in there so when I walk through in heels I sound very important. Bonus.


Mr. Brown hard at work. In his palatial office.


Yes, we have a balcony. But we’ve never hauled all the lunchroom furniture outside to enjoy the sunshine on a Friday afternoon. Never.


Our coffee/lunch/newspaper/coffee/coffee/sometimes I guess we drink coffee room.


Welcome to the Vancouver ‘library.’ Here on the West Coast we are really into trees. Less books=happy trees (and happy students?) Just kidding we love the library!


Plotting world domination from the big boardroom.


Fun/weird factoid of the week: Cassels lives in the HSBC tower in Vancouver, which like Scotia Plaza, is also one of the only pink granite buildings around. AND we are on the 22nd floor here. It’s like we never left! Except for the partner offices. And the view.

Disclaimer: I realize that it is, in fact, Thursday and not Wednesday…it is not that we are THAT behind on the West Coast, but I am a day late in posting. Apologies to alliteration aficionados everywhere.


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