Happy birthday to Koen, Tegan, Gaurav, Florence, Conrad, Sam C, and Sam S! This summer we celebrated a few birthdays and had some delicious cake in the process. No file is too big or work load too heavy to pause and celebrate your birthday!
It’s course selection season!
As you all go about selecting your courses we thought it might be helpful if a few of us shared what courses we found the most useful for this summer. If you want a more elaborate explanation, reach out to us and we’d be happy to chat course selection!
School: Queen’s University
Course: Advanced Legal Research and Writing
Why: Learning the ins and outs of Westlaw, Quicklaw, CanLII and other sources of legal information has proved invaluable as a summer student. When a lawyer comes to you and asks for cases relating to whatever legal argument they’re trying to make, knowing how to efficiently navigate the proper resources can mean the difference between getting out of the office at 6 PM vs 1 AM. Plus, learning how to properly write a memo comes in handy – because as a summer student, you’ll likely be writing lots of them.
School: Western University
Course: Mergers and Acquisitions
Why: Taking M&A has proved to be incredibly useful as a summer student. The course applied some of the broader concepts taught in Corporate law, while also providing some big-picture insight on Securities law. As a summer student, having this knowledge has made understanding the broader scope of work assignments much easier to grasp.
Course: Civil Procedure
Why: I feel civ pro was by far my most practical course. It exposed me to the rules of procedure and provided me with experience writing memos and factums. Things every summer student will have to do eventually.
School: Allard School of Law
Course: Securities Regulation
Why: Working out of Vancouver, Securities Regulation has proven to be the most relevant course I could have taken in law school so far. I run into the material on a daily basis! Understanding the basic premises underlying the rules around raising and using other people’s money has been very helpful. On an abstract level, the course also asks some fairly fundamental questions about capital markets and their role in society – interesting!
School: University of Toronto
Course: Legal Research and Writing
Why: A typical summer student task involves researching case-law and drafting a memo. This course was great as it gave plenty of strategies for searching through legal databases, and tips on drafting effective memos. These are skills that can easily turn three hours of work into one.
Course: Business Associations
Why?: Business Associations is a great course for exposure to concepts used frequently in the business world. The transactions or matters you will assist a lawyer with will likely be on behalf of a business. This course set the foundation for my understanding of various business models.
Course: Secured Transactions
Why: Secured Transactions has definitely proven the most useful to me thus far. The course familiarizes you with some of the terms and concepts of the PPSA, which underlies most of, if not all, the financing transactions I’ve seen and assisted with. You can get through the summer without having taken it, but it’s definitely a good feeling when the lawyer drops some PPSA terms and you think to yourself: “Yeah! I recognize some of those words!”
Course: Advanced Legal Research
Why: ALR was a very practical course. It taught me how to be more efficient with my research. My searches became more structured and it definitely allowed me to hit the ground running on research assignments.
Course: Admin Law
Why: Because admin law is life.
Course: Business Associations and Securities
Why: Coming from a Criminology background, these two courses were very helpful in introducing me to business law and relevant business terms.
Course: Clinical Legal Education: Downtown Legal Services
Why: I think any clinic course is extremely beneficial. On top of the fact that clinics are essential to combating the access to justice crisis, you will benefit from the experience. Having some practical skills under your belt is so helpful in the summer, and a clinic also gives you great real experiences to talk about at your interviews.
Course: Corporate Finance
Why: It helped me understand the different ways for companies to raise money and that is fundamental when assisting with different transactions at the firm.
I am not remotely close to being an expert in any field of law, but that’s okay – I’m a student! During Cassels’ orientation week I was a little troubled by how little I knew. I thought the gulf between what I do know and what I thought I ought to know would be detrimental. However, I’m pleased to report that I have not been sent packing for bringing only an inquisitive mind to the table at this juncture in my legal career. The firm has learned that I know little about securities and has opted to still keep me around.
While I do believe that every aspect of my first year of law school was in some way beneficial, certain things prepared me for my summer position more than others. The activities that aren’t in any way represented on my transcript have been the most useful. For example, I realized in mooting that I read cases more analytically when I’m reading for a moot as opposed to a class or exam. My experience reading cases for a moot has helped me a lot when conducting research. Preparing for moots requires that you read cases while trying to determine whether each and every point made helps or hurts your position. Every time a lawyer at Cassels has asked me to do research they’ve told me how my research fits into the broader puzzle. So, I’ve been able to put my point by point reading (figured I’d give it a name) to further practice.
I must admit that at the start of law school (probably through the middle as well) Legal Process/Civil Procedure was my least favourite class. As such, it was at the bottom of my priority list. I thought that above all things, I needed to do well in contracts to do well on Bay Street. This thought continued until I was asked to take the first crack at a Statement of Claim. I won’t walk through each and every way Legal Process/Civil Procedure helped prepare me for that assignment, but it helped a lot!
Now that I am a seasoned and accomplished veteran a month and a week into the job, I think I’ve noticed a trend. The most important thing does not appear to be the nuts and the bolts of what you learn. Rather, it’s how you’re taught to read, think, and learn! While the nuts and bolts may undoubtedly help, Cassels is full of willing substitute teachers. Also, the true aim of law school is to teach you how to learn efficiently. The knowledge can and will come in practice. Be it mooting or extremely practical courses, law school does prepare you for life as a lawyer if you capitalize on your learning avenues. Sometimes you do fall victim to the knowledge gulf, but when for whatever reason the knowledge aspect hasn’t come despite my best efforts I’ve rented my mentor Chris’ brain.
The knowledge gulf is real, but it is not significant. An inquisitive mind that is willing to learn and occasionally rent another brain is all that is required to survive a summer on Bay.