Friday, 31 July 2015

One Actual Day as a Summer Student

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8:00 am: I arrive in the office. We aren’t expected in until closer to 9, but I happily get up a little earlier so not to spend my commute squashed in a crowded subway car; plus it’s quiet around the office at this time of the morning and it gives me an opportunity to get some work done before the emails and phone calls start coming in.

At least once a week I get a new type of assignment that I’ve never done before...

First line of business – Email: My inbox has an email from a Foreign Ministry of Justice. I had put together the affidavit of documents and damages brief for an action against a foreign defendant earlier this summer and I had been asked to arrange for service of the statement of claim to that defendant. The emails back and forth are clarification of forms sent.

Next up: I summarize the documents the opposing side produced for an action. These summaries are usually the basis of letters to clients providing the lawyer with the information they need to form an opinion going to the client on damages and liability. Sometimes the lawyers will go a step further and have us draft the opinion, which they reassuringly will review and revise if necessary, or ask us to give them our opinion informally, but today it’s just a summary. Thankfully, there aren’t too many documents and I manage to get through them and draft the report in a couple of hours.

Switching Gears: At least once a week I get a new type of assignment that I’ve never done before and this weeks’ new task is to create a brief. This involves going through the other side’s productions and after identifying the individual documents, organizing them into pre-determined categories relating to their purpose. Not having broken down documents into these categories before makes it slow going.

Interruptions: The phone rings and it is the adjuster representing the opposing parties on one of my small claims files. We had spent a few days exchanging settlement offers and it was my turn to respond. I had gotten instructions from our client regarding the latest offer yesterday, so I relay the information to the adjuster who says they will discuss it and get back to me. Given our offer, I’m 50-50 about whether we’ll settle or the discussion will break down entirely, but, cautiously optimistic, I get back to work on the brief.

Lunch: Inevitably, at some point in the late morning someone will call, pop by, or message and the question is always the same; “when’s lunch?” The summer students try to get lunch together, unless on field trips, running errands, or other lunch dates; 3 or 4 of us do manage on any given day. Today, lunch is at one and we decide to eat in the food court of our building. In the end, we all are able to make it.

Post Lunch: I receive an email from the adjuster to whom I made the settlement offer this morning. They’ve agreed! I let the supervising lawyer know. After replying to the adjuster, I draft a subrogation release and send it to the client along with the good news. Once done, I start work on a second summary and then continue working on a research memo I started a couple of days earlier.

New Work: At 4:45 a new assignment comes to “The List”. The student who is up next is swamped and looking to switch places. Sometimes students will get a lot of big assignments in a row; as a group we’ve learned to work as a team to handle this. I respond that I have time, and then arrange to meet with the assigning lawyer the next morning.

Closing Time: At 5pm with nothing pressing, I decide to call it a day and head back to the now much busier St. Andrews station to catch the subway home. Most of the other summer students make their way home too. It was made clear to us that no one expects us to hang around the office for the sake of being visible. We stay as long as we need to in order to get our work done. Although I might (and did) receive a couple of new assignments after I arrive home, I know they will keep until tomorrow…

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