Author Archives: Patrick

The End Is the Beginning Is the End

August is a time of change at a law firm. Summer students are finishing thier work and heading back to school while articling students are just beginning their sojourn towards being called to the bar. There are goodbyes and wringing of hands over the school year ahead. Some dread returning to law school and wish they could continue on with the firm. Others look forward to how their sharpened legal skills will serve them well when they tackle casebooks in September.

How will we adjust to the return to the ol’ law mines at our respective universities? A look at what I expect to be the same, better, worse, or just plain different starting this fall for my final year, 3L:

1. “Casual Fridays” will be replaced with  “casual every day.” In a reversal, suits will still be worn on Fridays so I don’t get rusty.

2. Bizarrely, I will start drinking coffee again, having  made it this far with only a single latte at work blemishing my bean juice-free summer.

3. Running expensive Quicklaw and Westlaw searches on my student account, for the hell of it.

4. Feeling bolder about challenging professors in class.

5. Starting class at 1:00 pm, but waking up at 7:00 of of sheer habit and getting suit halfway on before realizing what I’m doing.

6. Wondering how I can bill the school for the time I spend in the library.

7. Giving advice to 1L and 2L’s now that I am a learned gentleman WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT THE LAW AND IT UTTERLY UNASSAILABLE!!!

8. Conversely to #5: running away like a frightened rabbit when someone asks me a question I don’t know.

9. No more free lunch? Wrong. Show enough aggression and determination in the student lounge and you’ll find any lunch can be had for free.

10. Writing a screenplay about a hard-working law student who somehow secures an articling position at a big city firm. Said city is then attacked by aliens. Box office gold.

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The Commute

You never know how many hours you will spend in the office on a given day, but one thing that is fairly predictable is the time of your morning and evening commutes. We huff and and puff when the subway is crowded or the higway is jammed with cars, and we act as if these are complete suprises. We like to pretend that our morning commute is always a brisk and easy 15 minutes with a hot cup of coffee in hand and an empty seat to rest, never accepting the reality of how long it will take and the obstacles that will predictably overwhelm us. With this in mind, I did an informal poll of CBB students to find out how they were getting to work, how long it was taking, and where they were coming from. Those numbers yield some interesting results!

First, two maps that show where everyone is coming from every morning. The first map is a wide view to include our lone student who lives in Ajax, the second is a closer view of Toronto itself. Students are in blue and the Cassels Brock offices at King and Bay is the red icon. Note only two students are commuting from outside the Toronto city limits (in Ajax and Thornhill).

The vast majority of students are living south of the 401, between Allen Road and the DVP. Given that students aren’t driving a Mercedes to work yet, these addresses make sense given our reliance on public transportation. In fact, more than half of all students live at or below Bloor Street. A simple use of geometry would reveal that the “average” student lives around the University of Toronto campus.

Statistics and Commentary (for round trip, morning and evening commute)


Furthest commute (distance): 77.4 km. This would be our student residing in Ajax who takes the GO Train to get to work every day.

Longest commute (time): 120 minutes. Interestingly, this is not our GO Train commuter, but our student living in Thornhill, who drives to Finch station and then takes the subway in to work. Living in the suburbs can be made up for by living close to a good transit route to dodge traffic.


Shortest commute (distance): 1.5 km, 20 minutes This gentleman walks to work every day from roughly Queen and University. Arguably, he need only wake up at 8:20 am each day then shave and eat a granola bar while walking to work.


Total time difference between shortest and longest commute as of July 22: 76 hours, or 7.6 hours per week. This is where the more analytical point of my research comes in. The student with the shortest commute saves almost 8 hours a week over the longest commuter. Especially in an Articling position, where time is at a major premium, saving this amount of time on a weekly basis can be the difference between catching up on laundry, cooking dinner, or staying on top of your workload at the office. Living downtown can be more expensive, but there will always be more money. Time, once passed, never returns. Conversely, if living farther away means living with one’s parents, the additional commuting time can be offset by the time saved on things like grocery shopping, laundry, and general home infrastructure that would not be so organized should one be living solo.

When picking a home base, it is crucial to take into account the amount of time you are prepared to commute to do so. The mental comfort that comes with accepting one’s commute is key. That magical day free of highway traffic or subway delays will never come, no matter how much we delude ourselves that today’s tribulations are an exception.


The chart below lays out the one-way commuting time and distance by student, which are the plot points. Note that the rises in distance do not lead to a similarly-shaped line with regards to time. This is because of the chosen methods of transport and proximity to public transit stations.



Modes of Transportation: We students use a number of methods of transportation. Some combine several into a day (drive to kayak depot, kayak to subway station, take subway to downtown, light jog from subway station to work). When I count “walking” I’m counting anything longer than a few minutes, not simply stepping out the door before getting on a hoverbike.

GO Train
GO Train


Mean daily commute: 15.9 km, 58 minutes. The “average” student will travel just shy of 8 km each way, will take the subway and walk, and will likely have enough time to read one section of a newspaper. (Or one average podcast.)

Median commute: 7.0 km, 50 minutes. I looked at the medians as well because one or two long commutes can obscure what the typical experience truly is. Some rough plotting on the above maps reveals that the “average ” Cassels student thus lives around University of Toronto campus and takes 25-30 minutes to commute each way.

Total distance commuted by students as of July 22: 13,151 km This is approximately the distance between Toronto and Cape Town, South Africa. This is not a recommended daily commute unless you come prepared with the largest Sudoku puzzle known to man.

 Total time spent commuting by students as of July 22: 47, 932 minutes or 33 days, 6 hours, 52 minutes. This is roughly equal to the total amount of time spent in class over the first two years of law school. Or 247 viewings of the movie “Titanic.”

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(Some telling statistics about the lives of Summer Students at CBB)

Number of stories in Scotia Tower: 68

Floors occupied by CBB: 6

Floors occupied by Laser tag facilities: 0

Floors we wish were occupied by Laser tag facilities: 68

Number of coffees drunk by students as of July 5:  2,561

Number of Diet Cokes drunk by students as of July 5: 1,238

Cups of decaf coffee mistakenly consumed: 4

Ties accidentally dipped in coffee: 1

Hours in an average work week: 56.3

Minutes spent in an average week figuring out how many hours were spent working: 47

Printers jammed: Incalculable

Percentage of Summer Students who say they don’t have enough time: 73%

Percentage of those same students who have seen every episode of True Blood: 45%

Average amount spent on dry cleaning: $124.15

Average amount spent on hair care products: $63.77

Total amount spent on Business Crocs: $0

Average number of times per day that “I think I finally have this figured out,” is uttered by a student: 7

Number of those utterances that refer to lunch: 6.9

Cumulative pounds gained due to stress: 146

Cumulative pounds lost due to stress: 142

Reason for four pounds of difference: Cumulative weight of 1 Blackberry per student.

Total cases cited in memos: 378

Library books checked out: 129

Point of research at which you realize that the first case you found was the best: 6.8 hours in

Average elevation of student office: 214.8 feet above sea level

Elevation of average student’s summer apartment: -0.8 feet below sea level (Due to basement apartments)

Student’s average daily commute in minutes: 37.4

Average commute if Starbucks wasn’t so tempting: 31.6

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The Beautiful Game


A squad of Cassels Brock students (plus a ringer or two) took part in a day-long soccer tournament this past weekend. Events like these are great on the weekend for easing stress, teambuilding, and finding out which of your office mates isn’t afraid to make a diving header. Having spent so much of our time as law students interacting in business attire makes it refreshing to see people in sporting gear. Even more encouraging is the fact that despite not winning the tournament (too many free lunches and treats can take a toll on one’s breakout speed) we played as a team and managed to work together and strategize. An apt metaphor for our work at CBB, where you have to realize the importance of teamwork for the purposes of a common goal. Also, in both places, slide tackling is discouraged.

What kind of behaviour can one expect from law students on a football pitch? Highlights from our day:

  • Fell behind early in a game due to inattentiveness from typing on Blackberries.
  • Furiously arguing against yellow card on the grounds that there was an improper standard of review
  • Handing out business cards in post-game handshake line.
  • Wondering if game going to extra time means we get a free cab ride home.
  • Appealed losses to higher referees.
  • Start of game delayed 20 minutes due to debate over whether soccer cleats count as “business casual.”
  • Replacing sideline watter bottles with Starbucks leads to disastrous dehydration.
  • 90 minute games rounded up to 2 hours for billing purposes.

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Due The Right Thing

During the recruiting process, you might hear the term “due diligence” tossed around a lot. You might smile and nod and pretend you know what it means. But what does it mean exactly?

Due diligence is one of the cornerstones of any summer student’s day-to-day work. You might find yourself doing due diligence on any number of contracts, leases, agreements, or other corporate documents in the midst of a deal. Generally, due diligence involves going over documents with a fine-toothed comb and identifying the key components of a document and identifying any potential issues within it. This information is then gathered in document where key terms and information are neatly organized for later review by a lawyer. A sample from a fictional (but well-known) corporation is below. Comments and notes from the reviewer are often used to point out issues, but aren’t as casual and critical as the ones below. Still, just to get comfortable, have a look:

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