Author Archives: Spencer Toffoli

Charity Barbecue for Families with Children at BC Children’s Hospital

Every year, the Vancouver Cassels summer students get to organize a charity event of our choice, funded by Cassels!  For the past few years, students have chosen to do a Family Meal Night for Ronald McDonald House.  This is one of the many charities which Cassels supports, and the firm sponsors the event by funding all of the food, as well as our time organizing and participating.

the volunteer team pre-dinner

Ronald McDonald House is a non-profit organization which provides accommodation for seriously ill children, and their families, who must travel to Vancouver to access medical care at BC Children’s Hospital.  BC Children’s is the primary children’s hospital for all of BC and the Yukon, meaning that many ill children and their families find themselves in Vancouver without warning, without plans and without a place to stay.  Ronald McDonald House serves 2,000 families each year in spacious suites with private washrooms, as well as a variety of expanded services in the house like arts and crafts studios, music therapy, fitness studieos, a LEGO lounge, and shared common spaces where families can come together for company and support.  Not to mention, they have a super cool, adult and child friendly slide which you can use to get from the 2nd floor to the first!!

As volunteers, we got to tour the facilities, which were beautiful, modern, and incredibly thoughtful.  Everything was built with an eye to making life easier, better, and more comfortable for the families living there, with touches like a fitness room with a glass wall looking out onto the play room – so busy parents can exercise while watching their kids play. Out of all of the cool facilities, I think the magic room was my favorite – a high tech room which allows users to be transported into the enchanted forest home of Woody the Beaver.  It was truly heartwarming to see all of the hard work and dedication which the staff and volunteers put in to making families feel supported and at home during what must be such a difficult time in their lives.  Watching kids using the main common area off the entrance hall as a huge race track for their hot wheels cars before dinner was probably almost my favorite part of the night!

As student organizers, we have been prepping for this event since late June, booking the meal night, planning the menu, collecting volunteers from the firm, and, day-of, doing all of the shopping and food delivery.  Forrest, Grace and I spent the morning doing a Costco and Superstore shop, which was a super fun student field trip in and of itself!

Cotsco vogue

we needed 1 shopping cart just for buns and cookies!

Prince Leia à l’ onion

on our way to deliver the food!

It was not hard to make it a huge success with the support of the Cassels team – our maximum 15 person volunteer team was filled within two days of the request email being sent to the firm!  After some nominal, and likely unnecessary, delegation on our part, the Cassels volunteers jumped into action in three teams – the Grill Masters, the Top Chefs, and the Plating Masters.  Everyone put their heart into making sure that a delicious barbecue meal was ready in time for the estimated 100 parents and children who showed up with eager appetites.  Watching the huge smiles of kids as they chatted with the serving team and collected their burgers made every moment of preparation more than worthwhile.

We finished the day with full stomachs and full hearts.  Thanks Uncle Cassels for sponsoring this great event!

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Fun in Vancouver!

Hi All!

Vancouver office here with our first blog of the summer (sorry it’s a bit late in the game, it is hard to get in time to blog when we are too busy staring at the beautiful view of the ocean and the mountains out our windows).

At Vancouver, we have been lucky to have had a variety of social activities to brighten up our summer. Aside from the welcome lunches, dinners and drinks (if you include Orientation week in Toronto, we’ve been to at least 9) the firm has had several fun socials which students have been welcome to attend.

Firstly, we have “Tea” on every second Friday at 4pm. “Tea” means the firm supplies beer and wine (and sometimes other summery drinks like hey’alls), plus a variety of delicious snacks, and we enjoy them in the boardroom looking at our beautiful view. (have we mentioned the view???)

The best part about Tea is that the students get to ostensibly host, meaning we go out and buy the snacks and do the email invite to the firm.  The Toronto office may be sponsored by coffee, but here in Vancouver, we are sponsored by SNACKS.  Not only are we very invested in getting just the right tea snacks every week, we take at least one group snack break every day where the three of us skip along to the servery to raid the lawyers snacks in the cupboard (we’ve eaten countless bags of m&m trail mix at this point).

Every year, the students come up with a theme for the invitations, like writing a haiku every week, or sending out a cheesy beach picnic photo every time.  Our ‘theme’ has been to photoshop associates and partners into images that are vaguely related to tea. We kicked it off by testing out that famed Cassels collegiality by photoshopping a  partners face onto every character at the Mad Hatters tea party, Disney cartoon version (thank goodness no one here takes themselves too seriously, because we have only gotten worse from there) . We’d love to reproduce some of the invites here, but that’s something you will just have to get hired to see.

Summer Student and Associate Fun Night:

The brilliant Vancouver associates convinced “Uncle Cassels” to sponsor a summer students and associate fun night. After voting by all invited, a date and activity was picked – Go-Karting at the outdoor race track in Richmond! Everyone showed up day of to find a Cassels team t-shirt waiting for them at their desk (mine had a Pac-Man ghost).  A party bus arrived to take the team to the race track in style.   The racing competition was fierce, with at least one litigation associate getting kicked off the course within the first few races. Don’t worry, litigation skills were put to good work and they talked their way back on to the course in no time!

Pre-race team video                                                     

Everyone getting psyched for the races!

After the race, everyone headed to Torafuku, where Uncle Cassels treated us to an amazing dinner of fusion asian food (and  few rounds of sake). The night rounded out fairly late for some of us with drinks and games at the American, where we proved that not only does Cassels have the best lawyers in town, we also excel at throwing a foam football and other types of projectiles into arcade games.

Dinner at Torafuku

Firm Summer BBQ Party

At the end of July, the Vancouver office had our summer BBQ party at a Canadians baseball game!  We all loaded up onto a classic yellow school bus like a bunch of schoolkids and headed down to the ball game.  There, we got to enjoy our own full section of picnic tables, complete with all you can eat hot dogs, burgers and food, and drinks courtesy of Cassels.  I have to confess that I was more interested in the eating, drinking and chatting than the game, so I cannot tell you much other than it seemed like our team was losing pretty badly.  We also had the added excitement of at least three baseballs coming whizzing into our section at killer speed!  Luckily, no one got hit on the head, and I think a few of us went home with a baseball souvenir.

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