Thursday, 8 August 2013

Carriage of my first file

Receiving an email from a senior partner is daunting enough but when I read “You have been assigned this small claims file” I had to do a double-take – Did I really just get a file all my own? I was nervous and excited at the same time for this chance to prove myself, and I was determined not to disappoint.

After reviewing the file, I discovered I would be defending our client in a sewer backup claim. While I was no expert on the subject matter, I was determined to learn everything necessary to properly defend our client’s interests; and luckily for me, there is no shortage of people at the firm whom I could turn to for advice.

"With a solid understanding of the facts and allegations advanced by the plaintiff, I drafted our client’s defence..."

My first order of business was to ensure all deadlines were diarized so I did not miss any on my first file! I then contacted my client and the opposing counsel to advise all future correspondence be directed to my attention as I was now assigned to the file. (Wow!) To be given the opportunity to establish my name in the “legal world” at such an early stage in my budding legal career is pretty amazing!

With a solid understanding of the facts and allegations advanced by the plaintiff, I drafted our client’s defence; which ended up being quite lengthy; however, this was necessary in order to properly defend our client. I also drafted a defendant’s claim to ensure that our client’s interests were protected and all the necessary parties were brought into the claim.

Part of running your own file, even if you are a summer student, is to give the client your assessment of liability and damages along with recommendations for the claim. Thus, I gave the opinion letter my best shot and sent all my draft work to the supervising partner for review. It was a pleasant surprise when he said my opinion was right on track and ready for Superior Court! He also provided me with some more helpful feedback and confirmed I was ready to go ahead and issue, serve and file the pleadings with the Small Claims Court.

The mandatory Settlement Conference has now been scheduled for the end of the month; and while I would selfishly love the opportunity to advocate on my client’s behalf, it looks like a settlement will be reached before that time and an early resolution of the matter is always my first priority.

Irrespective of what happens, I have learnt so much from this experience, and I know that I will be that much more confident on my next file. Hopefully, it’s not too far away!
Brittany S.