Author Archives: Erin Minuk

Rock, Paper, Scissors: A Tale of Triumph; A Tale of Defeat

A common question students ask about a firm is “how do you and the other students distribute work?”

At some firms there is the horrible very helpful randomizer, while at others it is on a  first come first serve basis.

Here at Cassels we have a different way of administering tasks…. ROCK. PAPER. SCISSORS. Honestly just saying the name gives me shivers as I currently have the worst record for these battles. While the wounds are still fresh, I am here to explain how this process works, and why it actually does work.

Don’t worry young grasshoppers, I will first give you some background so you can laugh along with the jokes like you have some idea of what’s going on.

To understand the point, dare I say significance of rock paper scissors you need to understand how the students get work at Cassels. Much of the work you receive as a summer student comes through a list-serve which any lawyer can use as a means to reach us with an assignment they have. There are two types of students (1) List-serve students; and (2) Students who are apparently too busy for the list-serve. But, that’s a story for a different day. As I was saying. When a list-serve email comes in,  that is where the bloodbath begins!

Well, virtually.

When an assignment comes through the list-serve, every student pretends reads it. Sometime from the title alone you can gauge whether it’s a yasssss queen (said in the voice of Jonathan from Queer eye) or a hard pass for you personally. Once you have decided it is the assignment of your  dreams,  you will obnoxiously post, “ME ME ME!!” in our CBB student WhatsApp group chat and secretly hope no one else wants the assignment. If no one else wants the assignment, then either you have poor instincts or everyone else is “SUPER BUSY.”

But alas, that is not always the case and there are many times when 2-3 students want the same assignment. When this inevitably happens, we need to find a fair way to decide who gets to do the work.  Now, I could make up a story about how it came to be but as a certified investigative journalist – I am going right to the source – scrolling through 3 months of Whatsapp messages to find the initial messages that started this system.

The first virtual Rock Paper Scissors came to be in the following manner:

  • Erin: Can I do this? (referring to an assignment that came through the list-serve)
  • Reza: Meeeeeeee
  • Erin: No meeeeeee
  • Kieran: We need a Rock Paper Scissors function in WhatsApp
  • Reza: Very true. I have nothing right now…
  • Erin: Sameeee
  • Kieran: [emojis of Rock, Paper Scissors]
  • Reza: Where is your office
  • Erin: 19th floor
  • Reza: Hahaha, kk on my way!
  • Kieran: Both of you message me either rock paper or scissors and I’ll tell you who wins

[the rest of the conversation is not important except that I’d like to point out I did win that battle]

After this event the student of Cassels realized Kieran, now officially known as Sheriff Kieran, was onto something. It has become standard practice in our group chat that if there are 2 or even 3 (yes, we’re skilled enough to do a three-way RPS battle) students who want an assignment, Rock Paper Scissors is in order. However, there are times where we crave the in-person drama and will make the trek to the other student’s office for a LIVE EVENT. Because RPS has become such a source of entertainment for the students, if there is an “in-person” battle, the students involved will send pictures of the event – usually of the loser crying in the corner.

I’m going to be totally frank with you – RPS has ended friendships, started rivalries and resulted in a lot of tears. It’s not a game for the weak. I’ve learned that the hard way. For every rock I play, there’s a paper to smother me, for every scissors I play, there’s a rock to crush me, and for every paper I play there’s a pair of scissors to cut me up. Luckily at Cassels, they hire students who are positive and resilient. So, while I may lose almost everyday in RPS, I know that one day, maybe not this summer, I will be a winner.

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The Art of the Perfect Phone Call

Last summer, I did a lot of phone conversations, and a lot of coffee dates with summer students from law firms in Toronto. My body is still recovering from the caffeine overdose I put it through. This is the post I wish I had last year before embarking on a journey that left my mouth dry and my cheeks cramped. Here are the ins and outs of how to handle the phone calls and coffee dates that are unfortunately inevitably in your future.

You’re not alone, phone calls scare me too. Actually, it’s the potential for long awkward pauses that scares me. Anyway, you don’t need to worry about that, because that’s not going to happen after reading this post. That’s right, this post is long awkward pause proof. The key to avoiding awkwardness, and more importantly, standing out as a prospective student is to be prepared for the phone call. While you may think your memory is infallible, I’m here to tell you it’s not and that a pen and paper are your friend. These phone conversations are for your personal benefit, so you want to ensure you get the chance to ask every question you intended. If you rely solely on memory, you risk missing out on valuable information and honestly, most likely (not speaking from experience or anything…) you’ll end up asking the same question 5 different ways. I consider this to be a skill – others, not so much.

To help you out, we have compiled a list of meaningful questions to ask summer students so you can save your creativity for another day. And no, if we’re on the phone and I notice you’re just reusing these questions I won’t judge you. If anything, I’d be flattered.

  • What does a regular day look like for you as a summer student?
  • What type of work have you had the opportunity to try?
  • How do students get their work – list-serve or going out and getting it?
  • What types of student events are held throughout the summer?
  • Do you find that your mentors (if the firm has a mentorship program) have helped you throughout the summer?
  • What is the environment like between the students – collegial, competitive?
  • Why did you apply/choose the firm you’re at?
  • Have you had the chance to go outside of the office “in the field” with lawyers at all?
  • What were you nervous about when you first started work? How do you feel about that now?

While these are obviously just a warm-up, hopefully it helps to get the juices flowing. If I have one piece of advice it would be to ask questions about what matters to you. No topic is too taboo, or too controversial for our ears. If you approach the questions professionally and thoughtfully, we’ll appreciate your candidness.

Also, don’t feel self-conscious about your questions. I remember thinking to myself that the student must’ve heard these questions a million times. Even if we have, if the person is enthusiastic, engaging, and easy to talk to, that’ll often overshadow the rest.

I didn’t ask their permission, but feel free to reach out to any of us students at Cassels this summer. We’re all unhealthily slightly obsessed with the firm and would love to chat about it.

Yours in social anxiety,

Cassels, Brock & Blogwell

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Eating Our Way Through Cassels

There are a lot of things to look forward to when you work at a firm – going home at midnight, getting an assignment from a lawyer at 4pm on a Saturday, or receiving a memo back you thought you nailed covered in red pen.

While those are all exciting things to look forward to (at other firms, of course), here at Cassels, we look forward to Wednesdays. We know what you’re thinking – Wednesday? What good ever happens on a Wednesday – it’s too far from the previous weekend to reminisce but too far from the upcoming weekend to talk about all the plans you’ve already made. As you’re having this mid-week crisis in your head, your stomach grumbles. Now, not only are you faced with the mid-week blues, but you’re starving on top of it. Then there comes the next struggle – do I eat the lame carrots and dip I packed for lunch because #cleaneating or do I venture down to the PATH to find something delicious AND healthy with my friends and ignore the voices in my head saying, “STOP spending money”. This dilemma occurs to all summer law students. Correction: This dilemma occurs to all summer law students, EXCEPT those at Cassels.

On Wednesdays, Cassels caters lunch for all of the lawyers at the firm, and honestly, it’s delicious every time.  To be honest, I don’t have anything else to say. It was a lot of build up for one sentence. Okay, I’ll say it again, but this time I’ll bold and underline it. Cassels caters lunch every Wednesday.

But wait, it gets better.

Remember in elementary school when your teacher designated 15 minutes every afternoon to snack time? Yeah, Cassels does that too. Every day at 4pm, well, 4:07 if we’re being polite, the Cassels Summer Students file into the lounge for daily snack time! It sounds minute, but when you spend your entire day doing Due Diligence, or spinning your wheels on Westlaw, a delicious break is needed, and appreciated.

Okay, two more very quick headlines on the food topic, since we’re here.

Throughout the summer the Summer Students have CLEs. Okay, I just had to look up what that was too, you’re not alone. CLE stands for continued learning education… I think? Regardless, when Shannon Leo sends an email invitation to one of these sessions and you click “Accept” because you’re not really sure you have a choice, the first thing to do is look at the time of the CLE. If it’s at noon – Hallelujah! Lunch will be served. No lame carrots and dip for me. I remember the first CLE we had post-Orientation Week scheduled for noon. Here is a rough list of the thoughts that went through my head upon receiving that initial invitation:

  • Will lunch be served?
  • Is it presumptuous of me to think lunch will be served?
  • Ugh, but if lunch isn’t served I have to make it myself.
  • What if lunch is served but I make a lunch and my food goes to waste?
  • Erin, just leave the food you made in the fridge for the following day – problem solved.
  • Wow, that really wasn’t hard to figure out. Now I just need to decide if I bring my lunch to the CLE or not – how presumptuous do I want to seem?

Many a thoughts for nothing, as lunch was served. Crisis averted.

Lastly, but honestly, probably the most important food tip of the day. Birthday parties aren’t just for kiddos. I really lucked out with the group of Summer Students this year. No, not because of their dazzling personalities (although that’s a close second), but because there are so many summer babies – which means Birthday Party!! Seriously, we get a calendar invite when it’s a student’s birthday entitled, “_____’s Birthday Party” where we all go to the lounge and eat cake.

Cassels Brock & Brockwell: Where you’ll always be learning, but never be hungry.

We’re not saying that food should be the reason you pick a firm, but it definitely shouldn’t not be a reason you pick a firm, either.


The Cassels Block & Blogwell Team


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