Diversity: A Look at Cassels and Beyond

Diversity. The word itself gets thrown around endlessly law schools and law firms alike. However, without any action behind it, the world itself is lifeless. Diversity is subjective and means different things to different people. But at Cassels, diversity is more than just a buzzword. It is a commitment to unlearning biases and restructuring our workplace. Cassel’s hasn’t just vowed to do better, but has devoted time, people, and resources into actually doing so. We proudly have Black, Asian and LGBT Affinity Groups, a flexible maternity leave program, and accessibility and inclusivity training. I was proud to learn that Margaret Paton Hyndman, a pioneering female lawyer and the first Canadian woman to be appointed King’s Council, practised at Cassels until her retirement.

To learn something about diversity at Cassels, look no further than our current summer student group. As Tiffany Chiu told me, “the firm truly views the members of our summer class as multi-dimensional people and embraces both our shared similarities and differences. For me, this speaks to the core of the firm’s commitment to diversity.”

Mentorship and friendship can be brokered through similar interests, aspirations and personalities. Yet, there is something invaluable about a prospective student looking at our firm and seeing students, associates, and partners like themselves. When we are mentored by someone who shares the same kind of diversity trait as we do – be it race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation – it allows us to envision who we might become in the future. Put simply, come walk our hallways and I can almost guarantee you’ll find someone just like yourself.

Summer student Tristan Davis gave us his thoughts on diversity and the realm of law.

“Diversity  was one of the most important things I considered during the recruitment process. As President of the Osgoode Hall Black Law Students Association, I am particularly active on campus with regard to diversity initiatives and I wanted to ensure that the firm I chose was equally committed to diversity. Although the diversity of Canada is not yet reflected within the legal profession, many firms and legal departments have made significant strides in recent years. It is important to remember that it takes a special perseverance and dedication for many minorities to achieve success in such a demanding profession.

With that being said, if diversity is equally important to you, remain true to your values. Ask questions about diversity and inclusion initiatives and don’t be afraid to ask for concrete examples of the firm’s commitment to promoting diversity. If you are a member of a diversity group on campus, include that information within your applications. Wear your hair and clothing the way you like. It is important that you feel comfortable when going through the process and you want to choose a firm that allows you to be yourself. At Cassels I am fortunate enough to have excellent Black role models and diversity initiatives that celebrate our unique culture. If any potential applicants have any diversity related questions, please feel free to email me at any time.”

Many other students echoed Tristan’s thoughts. As one of my fellow summer students told me, “on a personal level, it provides a much more comfortable work environment for me and it’s a nice change from the concerning lack of diversity I see at my school. I love that there are ascertainable manifestations of different ‘kinds’ of diversity at Cassels as well, not only in the conventional race/ethnicities sense but also in backgrounds, life-style and interests.”

I will give the last word to my fellow Blogger Any Obando, who eloquently shared her perspective on diversity at the firm and beyond.

“My personal thoughts on diversity mostly stem from my identity and experiences as a minority female. Although there have been enormous strides towards pushing for equality for all, there are still many adversities that women face. I didn’t think too much about my differences until I got to law school, where statistics about being a minority and a woman in the workforce were thrown at me. The attrition rates, the partner ratio of men to women, and the struggles women sometimes faced while taking maternity leave.

I put diversity at the top of my list during the recruitment period. I dug deeper during interviews and did online research to see which firms not only talked the talk, but “walked the walk” of valuing diversity. Cassels impressed me beyond any other firm. Not only do they demonstrate diversity at all levels of their work force, but their programming demonstrates they are leaders in developing and evolving existing policy in diversity. From having a mental health component to the variety of affinity groups at the firm, I felt this was somewhere that would value me and help me break these “invisible barriers” I was told so much about in law school. Going forward, I hope to see both Cassels and the rest of the profession continue to strive forward to both truly value and develop diversity through recruitment and through developing and evolving existing policy. We can always be, and should always strive to be, better as a profession.”

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Fashion Files-July 5th, 2017

Can you believe it? We’re almost half way done the summer! In this week’s edition of Fashion Files, we present to you Tiffany Chiu and Joseph Hamaliuk. Tiff and Joseph offer you their best advice on how to prepare for firm tour fashion. Looking for the ideal suit? Summer Sales are happening everywhere…so take advantage before OCIs and In-Firms.


Tiffany Chiu

Suit-J.Crew; Top- Club Monaco; Tights- Wolford;  Shoes- Zara

1) Who is your style inspiration?

Meghan Markle.

2) What is your “go-to” signature item that you need to wear to work?

A pair of good heels.

3) What advice can you give to students about choosing the right outfit for interviews?

I’d recommend getting a well-fitted navy or charcoal suit with light-coloured tops or dress shirts! It’s great for those more formal meetings. Check to make sure the shirts are not wrinkled before your interview—iron them the night before or better yet, get non-iron shirts (for example, Brooks Brothers has a good selection).

4) What is your favourite store to shop at for business clothing?

Club Monaco for dresses; J.Crew for suits; the Bay or Holts for shoes.

Joseph Hamaliuk

Suit-Joseph Abboud; Top- Joseph Abboud;  Shoes-Joseph Abboud

1) Who is your style inspiration?

The Donald.

2) What is your “go-to” signature item that you need to wear to work?


3) What advice can you give to students about choosing the right outfit for interviews?

High contrast between suit and shirt (eg. charcoal suit, white/light shirt).

4) What is your favourite store to shop at for business clothing?


Until next time,

Your 2017 Bloggers.

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Tips on Firm Tours

Each summer, many firms host open houses for students to get a sense of the firm’s work and to meet some of the lawyers/students. To give you a sense of what they’re like, some of our summer students shared some helpful tips!

Kojo Hayward, Osgoode

“Firm tours can be both exciting and nerve wrecking. On the one hand, you are presented with an opportunity to learn more about the firm and to meet people there while hopefully leaving an impression. Therein, on the second hand, lies the nerve wreck. In trying to leave an impression on someone, we can talk too much, blurt out awkward comments, or amplify our own anxiety. When we don’t talk “enough”, we can even feel defeated. All of this can be mitigated. First, prepare some different talking points for students, associates, partners, and the student program team. The nature of your questions may vary depending on who you’re talking to, so come prepared for all of the above. Second, if you have nothing to say, say nothing and listen attentively until you do. Awkwardness arises when you force questions and conversation. Third, change your frame of mind from just looking to impress to looking to learn and be convinced why this is where you want to be. The firm tour is as much (if not more) about the firm trying to share its culture and approaches with you as it is an opportunity for you to impress and meet people.”

Paras Patel, U of T

“Your best bet for firm tours is to balance enthusiasm and professionalism. I’ve seen people at firms tours who were trying their hardest to get face time with the lawyers and impress them, and while they stood out, it might not have been for the best reasons. That being said, you shouldn’t shy away from an opportunity to make a connection with someone from the firm (however brief the interaction may be). Prepare some meaningful questions, be engaged, and depending on the conversation, reach out by email later that day. The firm tour isn’t necessarily the venue to sell yourself, but it can lead to coffee chats where the person can really get to know you”

Tristan Davis, Osgoode

“I did not have the opportunity to attend many firm tours, but I did make it out to a few of them. I think firm tours are a great way to familiarize yourself with different law firms. Most firm tours allow you to mingle with students, associates and partners at the firm. It is a great experience that may provide you with something to write about in your cover letters. My advice would be to attend as many as you reasonably can. During the tour always remain professional, try not to congregate only with your friends, talk to the lawyers and summer students!

One piece of advice that I think is crucial during these firm tours is that it is more important to have meaningful conversations with those you meet from the firm, rather than trying to speak to everyone. They are talking to dozens of students during that time, so the likelihood of them remembering you is slim if you do not make a connection. If you speak to someone that you connect with, get their card and email them later thanking them for their time. It also may be prudent to reach out to that person to speak to them one-on-one over coffee. Once again, during these tours, try to relax and be yourself.”

We hope to meet some of you this summer at our open house!

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Can we chat over coffee?

For some of you out there, you’ve started to hear about people going on “coffee chats” in anticipation of the recruiting season. As it is a great way to get to know the firms, you might be wondering how to get the most of out of these meetings. To give you some tips on this, we’ve asked some of our own summer students to share their experience with you!

Ave Bross, Queen’s

“My number one tip is to network and meet as many people as possible. Go on as many coffee chats with as many different lawyers as you can. Going for coffee with a lawyer is the best way to learn about the summer student experience and gain insight into the culture of the firm. If you cannot make a coffee chat then try to set up a phone conversation. The connections that are established through a coffee chat are invaluable when going through the recruiting process.”

Tristan Davis, Osgoode

“I spent the majority of last summer abroad in Thailand, so I did not have the opportunity to participate in traditional coffee chats. However, I knew they were an important aspect of the recruiting process, so I had to improvise. First, I decided to reach out to those people I knew at firms that I was interested in, I focused primarily on upper-years at my school who had spent summers at the firm before, or were spending summers at the firm at that time. If there were no individuals that I knew, I would reach out to people who I shared something in common with (sports, undergrad program, hobbies, hometown etc.). Finding something in common with someone is a great way to start the conversation, if all else fails, find someone who has done something interesting that you want to learn more about.

I think it is important to remember that all these students can get busy at times, so if they do not reply immediately, give it some time. Also, make sure if you are reaching out, that it does not sound generic, you increase your chances of someone replying with a tailored email. On that note, try not to reach out to too many people, it is more important to have quality conversations rather than trying to meet every person at a firm.

During these chats, I think it is important to have topics of discussion prepared before the meeting. It will help keep the conversation going and allow you to get all the information you need during the chat. If you are meeting with someone that you do not know very well (or at all), try to relax and be yourself. We have all been in your shoes before so we know exactly how you are feeling.”

Emma Zaltz, U of T

“My best tip to law students is to take advantage of past and current summer students! They will be happy to speak to you and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Find out why they chose Cassels, what they’ve come to love about the firm, and what they’re looking forward to in the future. Hopefully, you’ll start to see if Cassels is the kind of law firm you will thrive at. Don’t be afraid to ask candid questions that you’re genuinely curious about! We’re not lawyers (yet) so you’re still speaking student to student. There’s nothing we haven’t already heard, and an honest dialogue is what makes it exciting for us.”

As you can tell, there is not set format on how to reach out or follow up, or a set list of what to talk about. Just be considerate, be curious, and be yourself! Lastly, don’t hesitate to reach out to our summer class at Cassels – we’re all happy to help!

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Pride and Remembrance Run 2017

Last weekend, our Cassels Brock team participated in the Pride and Remembrance Run, an annual five-kilometre fundraising run/walk in support of LGBTQ+ charities in the GTA. These charities include Fife House, Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, and Casey House.

We gathered at the 519 Church Street Community Centre at 9:15 am, and began the run/walk at 10:00 am.

The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was lively, and our team went for a delicious brunch on a patio afterwards. Overall, it was a great event. Happy Pride 2017!

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