Author Archives: Jackie Karbi

Mentorship at Cassels

Upon arrival at Cassels, all of us Summer Students were each assigned a Student Committee Mentor and a Firm Mentor to help guide us throughout our summer experience. While many firms may have mentorship programs, we wanted to share with you a bit about our mentorship relationships to date and why we think the mentors at Cassels are particularly great.

 

Spencer Toffoli:

  • “My experience with my mentor has been great. We went out for lunch before I started work, and have since had one or two lunches, but he has really been a great resource outside of that. I feel very comfortable going to him and asking him questions or seeking advice about how to best operate within the firm setting – how to manage deadlines, what to do if I have a personal appointment during work hours, and how to leave early on a Friday. I know that he is there if I get stuck in an awkward situation and I trust him to take my questions seriously and keep them confidential. I have also found that many of the associates have mentored me outside of the mentorship program, and have been available to answer questions from ‘is this outfit professional enough for work?’ to sitting down and giving me advice and feedback on how to write better research memos.”

Aamir Chherawala:

  • “I really appreciate how hard my mentors have worked to make themselves available to answer any questions or concerns I may have, no matter how busy they are.”

Shannon Scrocchi:

  • “I have had such a positive experience with mentorship over my summer here at Cassels. My formal mentors that I was originally matched with (Carla and Marisa) have continued to check-in on me and support me throughout my summer. Whether we are crossing paths in the halls or grabbing a coffee, they are both always there to make sure I am getting enough work, that I am getting exposure to areas I am interested in, and that I am supported throughout it all. Both Carla and Marisa are incredibly approachable and friendly people, which is exactly what I would look for in a mentor.” 

Erin Minuk:

  • “Having a mentor has been one of the highlights of my summer. Being able to talk to an associate and partner who know what it’s like to be a student is so beneficial. But aside from the mentors you’re assigned, Cassels is such a friendly firm that you’re bound to gain informal mentors as well. While they are called ‘mentors’, they really just feel like friends. Also, mentors (informal or formal) are a great excuse to get out of the office for coffee or lunch and try all the amazing restaurants in downtown Toronto!”

 

Moral of the story: The mentors at Cassels are no joke. They are always willing to help, are friendly and approachable, and driven to help you succeed.

 

If you want more information on the mentorship programs at Cassels, feel free to reach out to any of the Summer Students with questions about their personal mentor-mentee relationships.

 

Until next time,

Cassels, Brock & Blogwell

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Navigating the Summer Open House

It’s that special time of year again…. The season of the Summer Open House! Many firms will be opening their doors to students across the country this summer and just the thought of that can be terrifying. Never fear – CBB Blog Team is here. This post aims to demystify these events, including what to expect, what to gain, and how you can make a positive impression.


So, what is a Summer Open House?

I’m glad you asked. A firm’s Open House can take a variety of forms, a couple of which are listed below:

(1) After-Work Cocktail Hour

Many firms host an after-work session around 5pm which often involves networking, wine, and hors d’oeuvres. Often, these events begin with a few lawyers, the recruiter, and/or student committee members telling you about the firm. This normally takes the form of a presentation at the front of the room while the students are seated. This is followed by a networking session in which lawyers and the firm’s students are scattered throughout the room happy to chat with you about their experiences.

(2) Lunch Session

Other firms may host their Open House over the lunch hour from 12-1pm, normally with food served. From the events I attended last year, the lunch sessions involved a panel wherein lawyers and some of the firm’s students would answer questions about their experiences to date and offer advice for the upcoming 2L recruit. This is the format of Cassel’s Open House, both on July 12th and August 16th this year.  At Cassels, you will have the opportunity to hear from a number of lawyers from the Student Committee, and current Summer Students. Following our panel, open networking will take place whereby you can ask us your questions individually and try to get a better sense of what Cassels is like (answer: it’s awesome)!


What’s in it for me?

Of course, there is the hope and possibility that attending these events will get your name out there and allow you to meet the recruiter and hopefully stand out in a positive way. But arguably more important than that is the information that you can gain from an open house.

Be engaged when listening to the panel or presentation. It is likely the case that many of your initial questions will be answered by the speakers.

  • Tip: It is best to avoid asking lawyers or students in the networking portion of the event questions that were already answered. That being said, no need to stress or take notes furiously scribbling down every word that is said. Definitely take notes if you want to, but know that it is completely optional.

I found what worked best for me was paying full attention to the presentation or panel and speaking to as many people as I could at the event, then taking notes on my phone afterwards. For instance, I would often write a note or two about what a student said made the firm unique or why they chose to work there. These are points that you may find useful when drafting your cover letters.

  • Tip: Never underestimate how short your memory can be. It is probably wise to take notes as soon as possible so that you don’t miss out on key details such as the names of those you spoke with. You may want to drop a name or two in your cover letter (assuming they sparked your interest in the firm), but you also may want to follow up with these people in the future. Grabbing business cards is an easy way to help jog your memory.

You can also look at these events as an opportunity to learn more about law in general, different practice areas that may fascinate you, or what it is like to work at a firm of that size. These are all things that may inform decisions like what kinds of courses you pick next year at school or whether or not you decide to apply to boutique vs. full service firms, global vs. national firms, small vs. large firms, etc.

A final take-away of these events is the opportunity to solidify a connection with a potential mentor. Whether or not you end up working at a certain firm, it will benefit you to have a few mentors in the industry who can help guide you throughout your career. Of course, wherever you end up working, you will likely find more mentors, both through formal mentorship programs and informally. But to have mentors at various firms can never hurt you. If anything, it will allow you to hear from a variety of perspectives when it comes time to pick your summer or articling rotations (if applicable), and eventually your practice area. The people you meet at open houses are all great contacts to have and you may end up working alongside or across from some of them in the future.


What should or shouldn’t I do at an Open House?

Try to be as engaged as possible from the moment you step foot in the firm to the moment you leave. As a guest of the firm, be sure to thank the host (likely the recruiter in this case) for inviting you to the event.

As well, try to push yourself to talk to as many people as possible. There will almost always be summer students or articling students present at these events which can be less stress-inducing than talking to a lawyer. Regardless of their title,  remember to be polite, enthusiastic, and appreciative of their time. There is no “secret” to networking or how to ace one of these conversations. I always took comfort in knowing that I was there to gain information for my own knowledge and benefit. As the firm is trying to get to know you, you too are trying to get to know the firm

The questions you do want to ask at these events however depend on what you are interested in learning. I was always interested in knowing how students made up their minds about firms in the recruiting process so I would often ask why they chose to work at that firm, as well as if they have any general tips for the recruiting process. Don’t fret too much about the questions you ask though. The most important thing is that you take something away from your time there and try to get a sense of what the firm is like. When you leave, you should ask yourself: Could I see myself working there? Could I relate to the people I talked to? Were any of my interactions awkward or unpleasant today or did everyone seem like someone I could work with?


What if I can’t attend an Open House?

Don’t worry if you can’t attend an Open House or any of the open houses for that matter. Many students will be unable to attend and that’s totally okay. If you want to make up for it though and still be able to get a sense of the firms before the interview process begins, you can always reach out to a few of the firm’s current summer students, articling students or lawyers, and request a quick phone call wherein you can ask them questions.

None of these things will be completely determinative of whether or not you will be hired, so again, don’t worry.

  • Tip: The process will not be identical for everyone so don’t concern yourself with how your peers network or how many events they are attending. Do what you can and do what works best for you.

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the current Summer Students. We would be more than happy to speak with you about our experience thus far at Cassels or give you general tips for the upcoming 2L recruit.

Best of luck, and may the odds be ever in your favour.

Sincerely,

Cassels Brock & Blogwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Impressions

Hello world!

Today marks the end of Week 3 for us 2018 Summer Students here at Cassels Brock & Blackwell. Before we dive in, let us thank you for being interested in our summer experience and Cassels as a whole. Our three weeks here have taught us that Cassels is a great place to work and we’re excited to share our insights and experiences with you in the coming weeks. As with past summers, the CBB Blog will be run by several of Cassels’ eager Summer Students, but look forward to features and quotes from the rest of the students too. We hope you enjoy getting to know the team by the end of the summer!

To kick things off on the CBB Blog, we thought it would only be appropriate to start from the very beginning: Orientation Week. Here is a brief overview of our Orientation Week activities, but feel free to skip below if you would like to hear from some of our Summer Students on their personal highlights of the week…

Day 1

Monday started with some warm welcomes to the firm by Jonathan Freeman and Jennifer Wasylyk, Co-Chairs of the Student Committee. This was followed by a presentation on the “Nuts & Bolts” of summering at Cassels, given by none other than our beloved Director of Practice Excellence, Shannon Leo (a name any aspiring Cassels student will quickly become familiar with).

That day we were also all given our office assignments and formal mentors. Many of us met our mentors over lunch with the Student Committee, which was the first of many great meals to come.

The afternoon was spent getting our work iPhones, taking a professional headshot photo for the CBB website and LinkedIn, and capping the day off with some firm-sponsored food and drinks at Beer Bistro.

Day 2

Our second day was spent receiving IT and library training, as well as going out for lunch at Mercatto where many of the Summer Students (myself included) ate way too much pizza and pasta for our own good.

Day 3

On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of hearing from some associates and partners at the firm, giving us brief “101” sessions on the Business Law group and due diligence work. We also had a training session across the street hosted by Thomson Reuters, teaching us all how to use WestlawNext like pros.

In the evening, we were officially welcomed and introduced to the firm at an evening cocktail reception, where we interacted with many of the firm’s lawyers and were treated to some yummy finger foods and wine.

Day 4

During the day, we were given time to work on our personal CBB web bios for the student website, each of us driven to come up with the perfect and punny tagline.

In the evening, we went to dinner at Wayne Gretzky’s with our mentors, attended the Second City show, “The Best is Yet to Come Undone”, and finished off the night with some drinks on the roof-top patio at Oasis. It was an evening full of laughs, and a great opportunity to get to know each other.

Day 5

The last day of Orientation Week was highlighted by a delicious three-course meal and champagne for lunch at Terroni on Adelaide, with Shannon Leo sending us home early to enjoy the long weekend and sleep off the food.

So what is your favourite Orientation Week memory?

Shannon Scrocchi: “Getting to mix and mingle with all of the summer students!”

Kieran May: “Having some laughs at Second City after a busy first week!”

Carmen Bruni: “Seeing everyone Friday morning after Second City – you can learn a lot about a person from how they handle a hangover!”

Reza Sarsangi: “Getting together with all the students at Beer Bistro after the first day. It was a great way for the summer student class to get to know one another.” 

Corina Capmare: “One of the many highlights of Orientation Week was having lunch with one of my mentors on the first day and learning about all of the interesting places and scenarios that litigation practice can take you!”

Forrest Finn: “Going to the bar the first night and getting to know everyone better over drinks and going to Second City with all of the students and mentors!”

Photos from Orientation Week:

Summer Students bonding over some drinks during Orientation Week

Summer Students from left to right: Aamir, Spencer, and Rob

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