Friday, 5 July 2013

Just down the hall...

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know my colleagues in Toronto have already discussed the terror that consumes you on your first day of orientation as a summer student and the relief you feel when you discover (a) the supportive environment of MB and (b) that the other students are just as terrified. However, as the first Ottawa summer student to have the opportunity to contribute, I wanted to share some aspects of the experience that are specific to this end of the hallway.

"We were told repeatedly to think of Ottawa as ‘just down the hall’ from Toronto..."

The other Ottawa student and I arrived in Toronto along with nine Toronto students for orientation. Feeling overwhelmed (and outnumbered) we nervously tried to make a lasting impression in the short time we had. We were pleasantly surprised at the warm reception we received. Instead of being considered temporary visitors, we were welcomed as any other member of the team. We were told repeatedly to think of Ottawa as ‘just down the hall’ from Toronto – a five hour drive down the hall, but down the hall nonetheless. Excited, nervous, and a little skeptical we returned to Ottawa with these sentiments for our first day on the job. We learned quickly however that in the age of technology with everything available at our fingertips, down the hall may in fact be closer than it seems.

Working in the MB Ottawa office allows students to have the benefit of a small firm experience with the support and opportunities of a large firm. This close integration whether achieved through email, phone or videoconference allows me to receive (what I think is) the best of both worlds. I have been able to work in varying areas of law (employment, medical malpractice and administrative law to name a few), and for various MB lawyers (both in Toronto and Ottawa), while enjoying the close knit interactions of a small firm.

Aside from this, Ottawa as a city provides a unique and charming summer experience to its students. Admittedly some of us succumbed to this allure a few weeks ago when we stepped out for a quick lunch as just outside our offices the streets were bursting with people enjoying the annual rib fest. There is something incredibly endearing about seeing hundreds of people dressed to the tee in their suits, all draping themselves with paper napkins to dig into a rack of ribs. It is a city that has managed to find a commendable balance between the work hard and play hard philosophy.

It is clear that whether in Toronto or Ottawa, MB offers its students with a unique learning experience. Not only in the type of work it offers but in the unified approach it takes to dealing with both offices. While they both have distinct features the overarching theme remains that we are part of the larger MB network. Knowing this, provides me as a student, with the comforting thought that I have that much more support, guidance and opportunities available to me.

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