Category Archives: Advice

Don’t Tell Me to Get a Real Job: A Camp Kid’s Path to Bay St.

If you’ve worked at camp, you’ve heard it before: “isn’t it time to get a real job”? The first time this question was posed to me, I got defensive. But as time went on, I began to feel sorry for the person asking it because clearly the person had no idea what it’s like to work at camp. That person hadn’t had the experiences or opportunities that only camp can provide – and as a result, all I can do is feel sorry for them. But this post isn’t for the people who don’t understand. Sure – if someone who has never been to camp can read this and gain a greater appreciation for what it means to be a camp counselor, then that would be great – but the intended audience here is you: the camp kid. The one who, at 17-years-old, stayed up with a homesick camper or facilitated cabin clean-up with a group of 10-year-olds; or the 19-year-old who was responsible for teaching a new skill and driving children around the lake on a ski-boat; or the 21-year-old who managed a group of staff not more than three years younger and provided evaluations, feedback and guidance. Camp is a wild place – not simply because of how much fun it is (which it is), but because of what it offers young adults like us.

Pisher (2007)

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a camp guy. My first summer at Camp Kadimah was in 2007 as a 12-year-old pisher with chubby cheeks and braces (as you can see). 12 short summers later, in 2018, I ended off my camp career after 6 years on staff, as Assistant Director.

This summer at Cassels Brock is my first full summer spent in Toronto since I was 12. In other words, this job is my first full-time summer job that isn’t camp. Yeah. It’s a bit different. But don’t you dare read ‘different’ as ‘harder’ – cause honestly – it isn’t.

Regardless of your position at camp, if you want to be a good staff, there are a few base-level skills that you need to demonstrate: initiative, effective communication, critical thinking, and the ability to work as part of a team. If you are able to refine these skills, I promise you, you will make a fantastic camp counselor. But not just that – I also promise you that you will be well on your way to becoming successful beyond your years at camp.

The truth is, the value of the work experience you get at camp cannot be recreated in any city job, at least not at the same age. In what “office” job would you be given managerial responsibilities before you can legally rent a car? In what “city” job would a teenager be tasked with the business’ most integral operations? The answer: none.

Now that you’re nearing or are at the end of your camp career, the question is: what’s next? You need to figure out how to qualify and quantify the totality of your camp experiences, consolidate them, and tie them up in a nice bow with the end product being your resume and cover letter. While this may sound hard to do, it’s not. It just takes the right kind of guidance. Which is where I can come in. If you, like me, spent the better part of your childhood at camp and continued onto become a staff, I think I can help. And even if you didn’t spend that many years at camp but worked on staff for even just one or two summers, those experiences are nonetheless valuable.

Leadership, management, loyalty, intuition, initiative, critical thinking, teamwork, communication…

These are the buzz words that, whether or not they want to admit it, your future employers love to see. What can separate you from the rest is that you have a tangible, real-world experience under your belt where you have not just practiced these skills, but have refined and re-refined them.

While it’s always sad to move on from camp (trust me, I’m still trying to get over it), it should be a small reassurance to know that not only do your memories of the summers-past stay with you, but also the skills and experiences that you inevitably gained will stay with you too. It is these skills and experiences that have prepared you for this moment, and provided you with a uniquely strong base for you to begin your professional career.

Working on Bay St. is no more a “real job” than working in Barss Corner, Nova Scotia at Camp Kadimah was, and I find myself lucky to have wound up at a firm that gets that. And trust me, Cassels does get it. But it’s up to you to make sure your future employer, no matter who they may be, knows that just as well as we do.

Pisher in a suit (2019)

(p.s. my offer to help still stands – shoot me an email, find me on Facebook, drop into my DMs.. I really am happy to help. The more camp kids here the better!)

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Fashion Files 2019- 3rd Edition: CBB Style

The CBB hallways may as well be a New York Fashion Week runway with the outfits our summer students have been pulling out. Fashion is a way to show off your personality, and a work dress code doesn’t have to limit that expression. Whether it’s rocking a tailored suit or a dress and blazer, the CBB students have definitely mastered the art of dressing for success.

Zach Zittel – Bold and Trendy

How would you describe your style? That’s a very abstract question. I like to see my style as an expression of my personality.

Tips on dressing for the job? Don’t be shy. Wear something you’re comfortable in, but you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks. It’s easier to start out a little more conservative and then ease into some more bold choices.

Thoughts on casual Friday? I think it’s great. I’m not the biggest supporter/fan of such a formal work look, I think the legal industry is edging towards a more casual look. Casual gets a bad rep, but it’s actually really great for self-expression. You can be business-casual and still maintain a professional look.

Where do you like to shop for work? I have two suits I got made in Vietnam, and those are a solid foundation to work with. I get a variation of shirts from Club Monaco, J. Crew, Harry Rosen, and Muji.

   

Spencer Green – Big and Tall

How would you describe your style? Generally, I’m a big proponent of athleisure. I am almost always rocking at least one article of raptors gear (*journalist fact check – Spencer has been a Raptors fan long before the recent win), the second I leave the office, I throw on a raps sweater. What about at work? I keep it simple at work. I like to funk it up with my tie or socks – I’m a big funky socks guy.

Who is your style inspiration? I don’t have one – I just do me, I’m my own style inspiration.

Where do you like to shop for work? Suit Supply because they have a great big and tall section, and I am both big and tall. Banana republic has a great tall section too.

Comfort or style? No doubt about it, comfort. It’s so easy to find things that are comfortable and stylish. You’ve got to feel comfortable at work to do be able to sit down and get your work done. Being confident in yourself requires you to be comfortable with yourself, and that starts with what you’re wearing.

Simone Dreskler – Queen of Minimalism

How would you describe your style? Grab and go – all about easy, no-brainer mornings, so I try to get lots of neutrals that match each other.

Heels or flats? One-two inch block heel – just as comfortable as flats and feel a little more put together (even if it’s just an illusion).

Best accessory for a work outfit? Pockets!

When you’re not at work, you can be found in … Jeans and a t-shirt.

Kayla Smith – Fashion Forward

How would you describe your style? I wear what feeds my confidence. Few days call for suits, some days call for dresses, and other days I’ll wear a skirt and blouse.

Tips on dressing for the job? Don’t feel forced to wear the “typical work outfit” (or colours), whatever those are anyways. You can still be professional while shining in your personal style!

Number one fashion no-no? Wearing heels you can’t walk in.

Best dressed CBB employee? Peter Sullivan.

The general consensus seems to be keeping it comfortable – whether you like to rock a bold pattern to reflect your personality, or keep it simple and throw on the first thing you pull out of your closet. When shopping for work clothes, make sure the clothes you choose fit properly and can easily integrate with the rest of your wardrobe. You should always keep a spare shirt and blazer in your office – you never want to feel panicked if you get called into a last minute meeting with a client or accidentally spill coffee on your shirt. Cassels may be a law firm, but there’s  no fashion police to be scared of.

   

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by | June 21, 2019 · 2:58 pm

Coffee Chats 101

Hey Blogwell readers! Now that we are in June, I’m sure you all can’t wait to chat with us about our student experience at Cassels Brock so far!

If you are a law student heading into your second year of school this fall, you may already be thinking about the wonderful and blissful experience that is OCI recruitment. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

1.Schedule a phone call or a  coffee chat

Although applications are not due until August, now is a great time to start researching the firms that interest you. Phone calls and coffee chats with current summer students are a great way to do this.

Start by visiting the Cassels Brock student website (http://www.cbbstudents.com) where you can find our current summer students bios and contact information. If it is possible, reach out to a summer student that attends the same law school as you. Send one of us an e-mail introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the firm, and we will be happy to schedule a phone call or coffee chat with you!

2.     Do your research to ask great questions

The next step is preparing questions before your call or coffee chat. There are tons of standard go-to questions when chatting with a summer student at any firm. For example, you can ask a student about the most exciting assignment they have received this summer, or if there was something specific that drew them to the firm during the recruitment process.

While these are great questions, the best way to stand out and demonstrate interest is to have firm-specific questions ready. Take the time beforehand to research our general and student websites to get a sense of the student program and the type of work the firm does. Since you are reading Cassels Brock & Blogwell, you are off to a great start!

3.    Attend our open houses

Open houses are another great way to meet with current summer students, lawyers and learn more about Cassels Brock. The Toronto office is holding two open houses – July 18 and August 1, both from 12-1pm. The Vancouver office will host an open house on July 24 from 4-5pm. Register here to attend.

 

 

 

 

4.    Send thank you e-mails

After speaking with a summer student, send a quick e-mail thanking them for their time. This is also the perfect opportunity to reiterate that you are interested in working at Cassels. Now, you have plenty of information to help you tailor your cover letter to the firm.

Phone calls, coffee chats and going to open houses are truly valuable experiences to have before submitting applications and heading into OCI’s. Last summer, I spoke with a student at Cassels over the phone, and later in the summer we met for coffee. Not only did she tell me about her amazing experience at Cassels, but she was also generous enough to read over my cover letter and provide me with tips for OCI’s (thank-you Grace Wu!!).

We hope this helps and we can’t wait to hear from you!

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Fashion Friday: Some Tips For The Fellas

It’s summer. That means it’s law firm tour season. Many law students wonder what to wear to these tours – it can be stressful, especially if you’ve never stepped foot in a law firm before. But fret not. Cassels Brock & Blogwell is here to save the day (and your potential embarrassment by stopping you from mismatching your belt and shoes) with our Fashion Friday posts. Each Friday throughout the summer, we’ll be helping you navigate the fashions of Bay Street and Cassels to help you look your best.

That being said, sorry ladies, can’t help you out there. Nor would you want my help. All of your shoes look the same to me. They all look like, well, shoes. Tegan will be covering women’s fashion. I’ve been asked to write this guest blog on something I know a little more about: men’s fashion. “Guys can just throw on a suit” said almost every female ever. While true, we can “just throw on a suit”, we want to look good whilst doing it. So without further ado, here are some things to consider when dressing for a Bay Street law firm tour:

1. Fit

Sure, you might have a $2000 suit on. But that $2000 suit isn’t going to matter too much if it looks like you’re swimming in it. Conversely, if it looks like tight enough that it might be something a boy band would wear, you might want to consider another suit.

First and foremost, a suit jacket should fit in the shoulders. You want to make sure that there aren’t shoulder divots. Almost everything else on a suit can be tailored except the divots. Many tailors refuse altering the shoulders because: a) it can throw off the proportions of the entire jacket and b) it takes a lot of time and skill. That being said, if you get a jacket that fits in the shoulders from the beginning, you won’t have to worry about any of that. Here are some other things to consider:

– Try to stick with a single breasted jacket, with notch or peak lapels

– The length of the jacket sleeves should ideally expose roughly 0.5-1” of your shirt sleeve

– The jacket should be long enough to cover (or most of) your seat (your butt)

– You can go with a three piece suit should you feel compelled too, but you might be really warm (also, calm down there, Harvey Spectre)

– The break on the pants (where the pant legs end) is a matter of preference. I personally like a half-break or no-break to show off the sock game (more on that later)

– No pleats or cuffs on the pants for a more modern look

2. Colour

Stick with navy or charcoal for the firm tour. I’ve heard mixed opinions on black. The majority has argued that one should not wear black to the office. That being said, I own a black suit and haven’t worn it to work, and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon. Nor have I seen many others wearing black. Take from that what you will. However, if a black suit is all you own, absolutely go for it (just don’t pair it with a white shirt and black tie – you don’t want people giving you their food orders while at the tour).

Most patterns on suits are fine. Prince of Wales, glen plaid, and pin stripes are all acceptable. Unless you’re going for the Don Cherry look of the firm tour world (not advisable), anything that isn’t too flashy works. Don Cherry is the litmus test here.

3. Shirt

When I attended firm tours, I always wore a plain white shirt. I did the same during OCIs and in-firm interviews. While colour is a matter of preference, plain white is a classic and safe colour that goes with any suit, and is easily paired with a variety of tie colours and patterns. Light blue is also another favourite. Some things to consider:

– This goes without saying, but make sure that it is a dress shirt (don’t be the person to show up in a t-shirt – you’d be surprised)

– Make sure that it’s clean and ironed

– A spread or point collar is most common at law firms

– If possible, make sure that the shirt has collar stays. Keep that collar crispy

– Patterns are fine (gingham, checks, or stripes), but again, a plain white or light blue shirt would be ideal

With the above being said, whatever shirt you pick, just make sure that it looks crisp and fresh the day of the firm tour. You want the lawyer you’re talking with to be concentrated on you and not on what may or may not be Cheeto stains on your shirt.

4. Socks

Sure, you can wear plain black socks, but come on, let’s get real. You can also eat the strawberry flavour in Neapolitan ice cream first. Why would you want to?

You have a little more discretion when it comes to your socks. You can use them to show off your personality when you might feel a little more restricted when it comes to your suit and shirt options. I’ve seen everything from neon polka dots, purple argyle, to turtle patterns grace the ankles of the boys at Cassels. Though you can definitely get away with a little more when it comes to socks, make sure to keep it within reason. This is true especially if it’s the first time you’re stepping foot in a law firm or at an interview. You want the lawyers to be concentrated on you and not distracted by your socks. You don’t want to become known as the guy who only wears crazy socks every day. If this is you, you’re trying too hard. You’re like that guy who loses their mind at pick-up softball, sliding into home, and taking out the catcher when you’re already up 12 runs. No one likes that guy. Stop.

5. Shoes

If your dress shoes are black or brown and aren’t falling apart, you’re probably fine. If possible, make sure that they’re polished the day of the tour and don’t look like you just trekked through the Andes in them. When it comes to the style of shoe, you have some choices. Oxfords, cap toes, brogues, and wingtips all grace the hallways of Cassels. NOTE: Make sure that your belt and shoes are the same colour. Major key.

6. Ties

Definitely wear one to the firm tour. Again, just like socks, you have a little more discretion when it comes to ties. I’m not saying go ahead and break out that festive holiday one or that it’s time for the one with the piano keys to make an appearance, but you can definitely add some flare to your look with your tie. Just make sure it goes with what you’re wearing. Ex., combining a striped tie, striped shirt, and striped suit generally isn’t a good look (unless tastefully done and the distance between the stripes are all noticeably different. But even still, just don’t).

If you’re unsure how to match patterns and colours, a solid, dark coloured tie is usually safe when paired with a plain white or light blue shirt. Some safe colours for ties include: burgundy, dark blue, and purple. Stick with a half-Windsor or Windsor knot.

Also, be sure to keep your tie proportional to your jacket. The rule of thumb is that the widest part of your tie should be no thinner than the widest party part of your jacket lapel. Generally, this means no super skinny ties. A tie less than 2”in width would fall into this category.

7. Accessories

Here’s a quick (non-exhaustive) list of tips when it comes to accessorizing:

– Wear a brown or black belt with a conservative buckle. Your belt and your shoes should be the same colour

– A simple analog watch is always safe. If it looks like it could be worn in a rap video, you might want to reconsider wearing it to a firm tour

– Necklaces are fine, just make sure that it’s not visible because you have the Miami Vice look going on and have three buttons undone. Though the necklace shouldn’t be visible anyway, since it’ll be under your plain white or light blue shirt and half-Windsor or Windsor knot. See above

– Pocket squares are also fine. Avoid matching your pocket square to your tie. Your pocket square and tie should complement one another, not match. To be safe, a plain white cotton or linen pocket square in a square fold goes with almost every tie, shirt, and suit combination. Very Don Draper

– Make sure your hair is neat and clean cut. You’ll be visiting a professional work environment and your overall appearance should reflect that. Having hair that looks like it could belong on the Bride of Frankenstein detracts from having a perfectly accessorized and fitting suit

8. Budget

There is absolutely no reason to break the bank over any of the things on this list. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that they have to go out and buy the things on here to be able to attend a firm tour or that you’ll be shunned if you show up in a black suit. That was not the point of this post at all. The goal here was simply to provide some guidance if you’re completely lost on what to wear.

At this point in your career, there is absolutely no reason that you need a bespoke suit form Savile Row or expensive shoes. Honestly, no one is going to care. You’re still a student and lawyers know this. No one is expecting you to wow them with the price tag of anything you’re wearing. If anything, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. If you fit things off the rack, absolutely go for it. Just make sure that it fits. If you get a suit on sale, even better. Use the money you save and go see a tailor. I cannot stress that enough. A $300 suit that fits well can and will look exponentially better than one that’s a $1000 and poor fitting. Many people will have zero idea how to tell the difference between that $300 and $1000 suit. The majority of people will have no idea if that same suit is a polyester blend or wool or even know what difference that entails. As long as you feel confident in what you’re wearing, that’s the most important thing.

This is Richard signing off. Keep your fashion game strong.

DISCLAIMER: I am by no means a style expert and you’re more than welcome to completely disagree with me on anything that was said. Take everything on this list with a grain of salt.

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Your Guide to Firm Tours

I’m sure you’ve heard that law firms all have a unique culture, and that you should try to find the one where you best “fit”. I heard that line a million times and I must say as a 1L I didn’t buy it. But, once I started going on firm tours I quickly realized that it is true! Firms really do have different cultures and firm tours are a great way to start discovering that.

That said, firm tours can be scary. For me it was the first time setting foot in a big law firm and I had no idea what to expect. But fear not – here are some tips to help you succeed at any firm tour:

1. Dress professionally – You don’t have to be in a full suit but remember that the students and lawyers running the tour are at work and will be dressed as such – you should be too! If you show up in cut-off jeans you’ll kind of stand out. For ladies a dress and a blazer is a great option.

2. Ask smart questions – The whole point of the tour is for you to learn more about what the firm is like, take advantage of that opportunity. That said don’t ask questions with obvious Googleable answers – don’t ask if Cassels does any work in mining (hint: we do…a lot). Focus on learning more about the intangibles of the firm, the culture, day to day life, the kind of work students get to do, basically the things you can’t just find on the website.

3. Relax and enjoy– Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Firm tours are more for you to learn about the firm than for the firm to learn about you. Relax and try to view firm tours as a learning opportunity more than anything else. Also eat! There is great food at these things and people are often too nervous to eat or think they shouldn’t for some reason. You should eat – the food is awesome and it’s there for you!

4. GO! – If you have the opportunity to go to firm tours I really recommend you do. It is a great low pressure way to get an introduction to the firm, and it can only serve to make you more informed and more comfortable as you navigate the recruit.

 

For information on firm tours you can contact your law school’s career development office or check the firm’s website. For Cassels I’ll save you the time, just click here.

Our firms tours will be a great opportunity to meet lawyers and students, learn about the summer program and the recruitment process, and they will be lunch!

The Toronto office has tours on June 28, July 21, and August 9 from 12:00-1:00.

The Vancouver office has an open house on July 13 from 4:30-5:30.

Hope to see you there!

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