Monday 24 February 2014

Ready, Set, Go: Trial Time

It all started with a simple, unassuming email from a Senior Lawyer, “Come see me when you have a chance please.” It quickly went uphill from there. The lawyer indicated that he had a small claims court file that had gone to multiple settlement conferences and none of the three parties were willing to budge. “It’s going to trial in 2 months” he said, “Do you want to handle it?” Unsure whether or not this was a rhetorical question I emphatically answered with a “Yes!” After all, this is what we live for.

This is both the best and worst part of trial preparation....

I quickly took the file and began looking through it to understand what was going on. It’s difficult to pick up a file that has been ongoing for almost two years and try to understand everything that has happened. Also, this file was fairly technical and quite complicated, but that didn't bother me.

Trial preparation starts long before trial.
All documents that you are relying on, as well as a list of proposed witnesses, must be served 30 days prior to trial. This means that you have to start gathering your documents and building your case well in advance of that deadline. I tediously gathered all the documents that helped my position and drafted a brief that presented them in a manner that was easy to follow and in support of my arguments. As the deadline for service approached I finalized and sent my document brief and list of proposed witnesses to the opposing parties. Shortly thereafter, an Offer to Settle went out, so that you can take advantage of the cost consequences in the event of a successful trial.

That’s when the heat gets turned up.
When all parties are able to see the documents being relied on by the other parties, and their cases become clearer, you can’t help but compare it to your case and wonder how you will fair at trial. This is both the best and worst part of trial preparation. This is also followed by many rounds of conference calls with opposing counsel trying to narrow the issues for trial and trying to build up your case while looking for insight into theirs.

Its crunch time.
Before you know it, trial is a week away. You’re now fine tuning your trial strategy, preparing your questions for your own, and adverse witnesses, preparing your opening statement and going over your documents to make sure you won’t be surprised at trial.

Then, 3 days before trial, when you’re at the peak of preparation, you get “the call”. The plaintiff accepted the defendants’ offers to settle. Case settled. Trial cancelled. A part of you is disappointed that you didn’t get to go to trial and test your ability to effectively argue your position before a trier of fact. However, your client is thrilled that the matter was able to settle without the uncertainty, and cost, of going to trial; and at the end of the day, that’s the most important part!
David O.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Ottawa Interviews

February in Ottawa means three things to students:
  1. Like Ground Hog day, you've got at least 6 more weeks of frozen temperatures to look forward to.
  2. Mid-terms are literally around the corner so your study time, and your level of procrastination, should be up to an all-time high.
  3. Interview season is here!

Get a sense of who will be interviewing you by reading our lawyers’ online bios...

Interviews for the 2014 summer student positions are coming up next week at our Ottawa office and all of us here are thrilled to welcome you to our office for a chat.

I was in your shoes recently when I was interviewed for the Ottawa office articling position. While I can’t shorten our brutal Canadian winters or help you study for midterms, I can surely give you some tips for the Ottawa firm interviews.

Shivaan’s Top Tenacious Tips!

Get a sense of the potential interviewers

Nothing cuts the edge of interview jitters better than knowing that you have some sincere appreciation of  your interviewers’ experience and craft. Get a sense of who will be interviewing you by reading our lawyers’ online bios, and don’t forget to check out their articles which are also posted on our site. I bet you that at least one of our lawyers have written on a legal topic that will interest you.

Bring YOUR game to the interview

This might sound strange, but part of your preparation should be to consider who you are and how you got onto your current path. I am sure there is an interesting and even endearing story behind you. Tap into the part of you that has been temporarily bogged under text books and case summaries. Who you are and how you got to where you are is YOUR selling point. So, bring it.

The reason why MB has considered you for the summer position is because they saw something from your resume that jumped out at them, aside from your legal experience or education. Check out the profiles of our lawyers, articling students, and previous summer students. You will notice that we all come from a range of backgrounds and experiences. MB values a workplace with members who have diverse experiences.

I’m not going to lie; I was nervous coming in for the interview for the articling position at MB. I was coming to the table with certainly more non-legal experiences than legal-experiences, and didn't know how that would be received in the interview. I was pleasantly surprised by my interviewer’s genuine interest to discuss not just my legal experience but my non-legal experience. We both had a common love for photography and travel, and it made for some great conversation. For me, it was important finding a place that appreciates me for who I am, and that’s what I found at MB.

Go ahead and showcase your proudest achievements and qualities!

You’re a star, so shine like one

You've decided to interview with a litigation firm so speaking must be something you love to do. Being able present oral submissions in front of a master or discussing settlement with opposing counsel, will be an important part of your future career as a litigator at MB.

However, there’s another part of your career where speaking is very important. I’ll let you in on a little secret: MB is in the customer service industry. MB’s main goal is to ensure customer satisfaction by providing quality legal services. A big part of our jobs is developing meaningful connections with clients. Your interviewer will want to get a sense of how comfortable you are speaking with others. Let your conversationalist side shine in the interview.

Be choosy

Nothing is worse than getting something that you didn't bargain for. Be prepared to bring thoughtful questions to your interview. Be ready to voice the ideas and values that are important to you. If you have questions after reading up on our philosophy and principles from the site, bring them with you. Remember, it’s as much about you interviewing the firm, as it is the firm interviewing you.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: be yourself and let your sincere interest come through.

Fingers crossed for a swift end to this polar vortex, good luck with midterm exams, and I’m looking forward to meeting you next week!
Shivaan dS.