Friday 27 June 2014

Discoveries, Mediation, and Time Management

My first day of “real work” I was asked to put together a motion record...

It’s been a few weeks since orientation ended and the real work rolled in at McCague Borlack LLP. I have just started to get used to the constant panic attack of not knowing anything, and begun to enjoy myself. I have also never learned as quickly in my life. That, I believe, is due to a combination of the hands-on real work that we as summer students get assigned to and the “field trips” we get taken on. My first day of “real work” I was asked to put together a motion record for an upcoming motion, to be done that very same day. Whaaaat? Luckily the articling students were still around for me to pester. At the end of it, I saw the pieces fit together and understood why I was doing what I was doing. What a great feeling.

When people picture lawyers chained to the desk, they probably haven’t met a litigator. Even though it has only been three weeks in, I have already had the opportunity to attend two discoveries and a mediation. It was fascinating to watch the different styles of various lawyers in examining the same witness. The choice of words and the line of questioning really showcased the position the lawyer was taking towards this witness as well as the amount of preparation done. It was remarkable to see the precise wording and focused questioning by the senior partner I went with.

It is also true that each file is very different from the other. While I attended two discoveries, one had involved an interpreter, while the other involved a witness who is a lawyer by training. Hence, I saw two very different atmospheres and responses from the witness. At the end of the day, the most riveting to see was the relationships between counsel when it’s “on” and they are advocating for their client, and when they are just chatting with each other and sharing battle stories.

image courtesy of digital photos by jesadaphornMediation, on the other hand, was very different. All parties and all clients are at the table with (hopefully) the same goal in mind – to reach some kind of an agreement. At the same time, stakes are on the table as this is someone’s case. After openings made by each counsel, it becomes a sort of numbers game, and trying to keep each other in settlement talks long enough to achieve just that. The costs and consequences of continuing the case towards trial always linger in the back of everyone’s mind. The best part was, of course, that we reached a settlement and everybody was relieved it was over and (somewhat) happy.

Having said all that, field trips are fun but it is largely about time management as a summer student. While it is exciting to be going in and out of the office, it is important to keep in mind what assignments and tasks need to be done for other lawyers and to keep on track with the small claims files. It is definitely a balancing act that we continuously work at!
Leona K.

Friday 20 June 2014

The Glory of Law: A Dream Revised

One day, I am going to be a lawyer. I will get to wear fancy clothes and have a fruitful career. I will win many cases and be well respected among my peers.

These are some of the initial feelings that some may experience when deciding to pursue a career in law. However, as someone who used to possess these feelings, it was not long before I realized that this is not what law is about. Law is indeed a glorious profession, but not for the above reasons.

It was always apparent to me that pursuing a career in law would be no simple task. From going through the application process for Law School, to surviving 100% law finals, to getting a job, and then having to prove your merit at your place of hire, the challenges never end. However, out of all the hard work, the stress, the ups and downs, comes excitement and a heightened sense of where all the dedication is eventually leading. It is leading to a career in law, a dream come true. Although, along the way, something changed. I began to understand that law is much more than just fancy clothes and winning cases. It is, at its very core, about being on the front lines of justice. This is why law is a glorious career. It allows you to serve the public by defending freedom, as well as to seek the most just outcome for your client.

...along the way, something changed. I began to understand that law is much more than just fancy clothes and winning cases.

As a student at MB, I am given a great amount of responsibility. With that responsibility, comes the opportunity to be immersed in the profession and to truly realize my goals. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you have made a contribution, no matter how large or small, to a cause much greater than yourself. So, even if I have to stay in the office from early morning until late at night, and this will happen at times, I take solace in the fact that I am fighting for things that deserve a high degree of dedication and hard work, social goods such as freedom and justice.

In the words of Daniel Webster, "Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together." I believe this quote embodies what it truly means to be part of the legal profession. So forget the fancy clothes, the glory of law is the privilege of being trusted with the duty to progress a claim in the pursuit of justice. It is because of this, that I am honoured to say “one day, I am going to be a lawyer”.
Michael G.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

First two weeks, so far so great!

During the weeks preceding the start of my summer at MB, I was both very excited and nervous at the same time. After all, it’s not everyday that you start your legal career. However, it took only days of being at MB for the feeling of nervousness to be replaced by excitement, satisfaction, gratitude, and a sense of belonging. Here's why.

After all, it's not everyday your legal career starts!

Comprehensive Training

Our first week was fully dedicated to training. We sat in a boardroom overlooking the high-rise buildings of downtown Toronto. Our training was focused on not only administrative and procedural aspects of the firm, but also substantive information on different practice areas within the firm, such as Accident Benefit and Subrogation. We also had a crash course on civil procedure which was great.

Having received a training of this nature at the outset provided us with a much needed overview of the type of files we would be exposed to. This enabled us to confidently tackle the tasks that have been assigned to us. Oh and the training was pretty tech-savvy. A rotational camera and a big-screen TV were used to connect live to our Ottawa office.

Collegial Environment

Many firms talk about having a collegial environment, but MB holds this very close to its heart and takes proactive steps in order to foster this attitude amongst colleagues.

The firm’s policy regarding how summer students receive work is a great example of this. Work is mostly distributed amongst students based on an alpha-order rotational system, which prevents students from cherry-picking the best assignments for themselves. This method reduces tension and encourages healthy competition. Furthermore, MB’s exceptional hire back rate allows students to focus their full energy on mastering their lawyering skills in order to help MB in the future.

Getting Students Involved

What I like about MB is that students are given significant responsibility very early on. Each student takes ownership of over a dozen small claims files. While students report to the supervising lawyer, they are mainly in charge of all aspects of these files. In addition, lawyers who are working on larger files give students tasks. Such tasks include, but are not limited to, drafting affidavit of documents and motions, including motion to strike, conducting research, as well as attending court and discoveries.

Amazing Support System

Fortunately, MB provides a great support system to help summer students with the significant responsibilities that are given to them. Many lawyers stop by our desks to introduce themselves and ask us not to shy from going to them for help. As well, the support provided by the Articling Students have been exceptional. They have each gone above and beyond to provide us with genuine advice and guidance and have become our good friends in such short period of time. If this is what my summer experience has been like thus, far, I can’t wait to see what is to come. Read my next blog and I will tell you all about it.
Navid G

Friday 6 June 2014

An amazing year, coming to an end

What an amazing articling year it has been!

With our articles now coming to an end, we thought that we would share some of our favourite MB memories and leave you with some parting words/advice…

See you in September MB!


  • Favourite Memory of the year: After doing good work on a mediation memorandum for a professional negligence file, I was given the opportunity to take carriage of the small claims court file and bring it to trial. I was totally ready to go, until, the day before trial, the Plaintiff accepted my Offer to Settle months earlier. It was such a disappointment at the time but has become one of my favourite stories from my articling term and certainly my favourite memory. 
  • Words of Wisdom: Bite off more than you can chew.
  • Plans for Summer: Honeymooning in Italy!
  • Parting Words: I will cherish all the time I spent with my fellow articling students, it was quite a ride and I know I will always look back to my Articling fondly.


  • Favourite Memory of the year: Easily the firm’s Christmas party. Our articling student skit was a huge hit.   
  • Words of Wisdom: Articling is a marathon, not a sprint. Also, save some precedents. No one needs to jump over the same hurdle twice.
  • Plans for Summer: A fast-food detox followed by a two-week trip to Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro.
  • Parting Words: Stay classy, McCague Borlack.


  • Favourite Memory of the year: the final five minutes before we started the annual holiday skit. The props were set up, the students were all laughing nervously, it was hilariously awful.
  • Words of Wisdom: Learn early that ‎while what you do as a student is important, nothing is so important that it can't be fixed. Even if you feel like the sky is falling around you, it can be refastened without too much hassle.
  • Plans for Summer: Getting to know Toronto better, possibly a trip to Turkey in there too. Lots of weddings.
  • Parting Words: There's always money in the banana stand.


  • Favourite Memory of the year: Getting back our winning verdict after trial!
  • Words of Wisdom: Always make sure your phone is on silent before court begins.
  • Plans for Summer: To be determined, but I'm hoping to do some travelling.
  • Parting Words: See you in the fall, MB!


  • Favourite Memory of the year: MB Christmas party!
  • Words of Wisdom: Ask lots of questions.
  • Plans for Summer: Traveling!
  • Parting Words: Never forget to have fun!


  • Favourite Memory of the year: My very first time in “big girl” court with the chose-your-own-adventure-esque instructions for bringing a walk-in motion.
  • Words of Wisdom: Take a breath, smile even when you don’t feel like it, and enjoy the moment. This is your time to learn from your mistakes, relish in the opportunity.
  • Plans for Summer: Road trip, beach sleeps, bottomless port, and endless seafood.
  • Parting Words: It was quite the ten months full of law, laughs, and lamentations – and I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you to my articling student family who travelled through this rite of passage with me, you are forever my MB siblings and I am grateful for that.


  • Favourite Memory of the year: Driving to Perth for a settlement conference at the beautiful Perth Courthouse
  • Words of Wisdom: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. You never know what will happen if you don’t try or ask.
  • Plans for Summer: Taking some time to get out on the water!
  • Parting Words: Always be a student, and try to keep learning and improving continually throughout your career.