Given that many of you have begun or have at least started to think about the upcoming OCI process, I thought it would be helpful to share a few pieces of application-related advice. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind as you begin to prepare your applications:
At the outset, spend some time thinking about the types of firms that you could see yourself working at. Whether you see yourself taking your talents to a large, full-service corporate law firm, a smaller, more specialized boutique or something in between, beginning to develop an understanding of the type of legal environment you see yourself excelling in will help you target your applications and focus your time and energy on the firms you really want to work at.
Once you have a rough idea of the type (or types) of firms that you want to apply to, the next step is to begin researching the firms that fit the bill. Read their websites, reach out to their students and members of their student committees, attend their firm tours, look them up using NALP’s Canadian Directory of Legal Employers (http://www.nalpcanada.com/), and leverage your networks. The more research you do, the better prepared you will be to start differentiating firms and making decisions about which firms you want to target and which firms may no longer interest you.
Resume & Cover Letters
After the planning and research is done, start working on your resume and cover letters. Collectively, these documents are how you will tell the firms you are applying to more about yourself and your story. A few basic points about each:
- Think of your cover letter as an opportunity to craft a narrative that links your skills and experience with the culture and strengths of the firm that you are applying to.
- Don’t use overly complicated or flowery language to convey simple points. Instead, write clearly and concisely about why you believe you are a good fit at the firm.
- Avoid recycling your resume verbatim. Try to fit your skills and experience into broad themes that you want to convey to the reader.
- Don’t overstate your experience or try to make a routine job sound like something it’s not. More often than not, your experience at those entry-level jobs will have taught you skills that are extremely useful for the practice of law. Own those experiences and use them to your advantage.
- Leave white space on the page. Where you can say things in one line instead of two, do it. Concision is key.
- Include a “Skills and Interests” section. Often, a big part of your interview will be spent discussing what you have listed here. If you are an expert skydiver, are fluent in a foreign language, are addicted to fantasy sports etc. say so. These skills and interests are great conversation starters for when you land your dream interview.
Congratulations! You’ve finished your planning and research and have drafted your cover letters and resume. Before transcribing your application package onto parchment and sending it out via raven (or uploading it to viDesktop for those of you living outside of Westeros) give your application a thorough read-through. Attention to detail will go a long way, so proofread your documents over and over again, then send the documents to everyone you know and their grandmothers to do the same. Never hesitate to ask for help – the more eyes you have on something, the better it will be.
Best of luck,
Last week, the CBB Toronto Summer Students and I traded in our suits for aprons and volunteered at Lawyers Feed the Hungry, a program which helps to provide meals to those in need.
We were shepherded to Osgoode Hall by our famed Director of Professional Development & Student Programs Deborah Glatter. We managed to make it to our destination together and unharmed, a small miracle considering we ignored Deborah’s request to use the walking rope she had brought for us (see photo below).
After arriving and donning our aprons, we were each assigned tasks which varied from serving water, milk, and tea to dishing out the desserts, a fielder’s choice between a banana and a cookie. All told, the CBB Summer Students and the dedicated Lawyers Feed the Hungry volunteers served over 400 meals to individuals and families who needed them. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and a good opportunity for us to give back to the community.
The program is able to provide over 60,000 meals a year and is funded almost exclusively through charitable donations. With an operating budget of over $600,000, it relies heavily on donations from the legal community to keep its doors open. If you are interested in getting involved in any capacity or want to read more about the program, you get more information at <http://www.lawyersfeedthehungry.ca/index.html>.
Happy Canada Day everyone!
In drafting this post, I’ve realized that in my first post I forgot to introduce myself – how rude!
My name is Rowan and while originally from Guelph, ON I’ve traded Main Street for Bay Street this summer to join Cassels Brock as a summer student. Before joining CBB, my exposure to the legal profession was limited to say the least. I had little to no idea what a summer student actually did on a day-to-day basis. For those of you who are in the same boat, I thought I’d briefly share some of the things I’m working on so that you can get a sense of whether working in a large full-service corporate firm is right for you.
Given the size and reach of our firm, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in a number of really interesting projects. I’ve researched copyright and trademark infringement, drafted various disclosure documents for public companies, drafted employment and merchant agreements, helped a charitable organization prepare for lobbying efforts, and assisted on a merger & acquisition transaction.
Each of those projects have been incredible learning opportunities, and the open summer program at CBB has allowed me to take on work from nearly every practice group at the firm. So, if you still can’t answer the question, “What kind of a lawyer do you want to be?” at family functions, don’t stress yourself out – you’ve got lots of time to figure it out.
In a statement that contains no bias whatsoever, I think Cassels Brock is a great place to work. It offers a dynamic, fast-paced, and challenging work environment where students are able to participate in a wide range of engaging work that touches on so many interesting practice areas. In addition to the fantastic work that we as summer students get to do, there is another perk to summering at Cassels: the incredible food.
While the slogan “Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP: Come for the Work, Stay for the Food” was unanimously rejected by the firm’s partnership and marketing department as the official slogan of CBB, lunch and the afternoon snack offered by the firm give everyone something to look forward to. It has the added benefit of ensuring that I don’t try and survive the summer on a diet that consists primarily of PB&J sandwiches and Kraft Dinner.
Here are a few things that I’ve learned about lunchtime in my short time with the firm:
- Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. As much as you may be tempted to sit with your fellow summer students, make an effort to be social with others from the firm who you may not have met yet. You never know what kind of exciting opportunities may present themselves.
- Be health-conscious. Take advantage of the healthy options that exist. You’ll feel better and be more productive.
- Go out for lunch. Arrange to meet up with friends or grab a coffee with a co-worker. As much as you may love being at the firm , it’s important to get some fresh air and stretch your legs every once in a while.
Happy eating everyone!