Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Hands-on Learning Approach

We have approached the halfway point into our summer, so it is a great time to check in on how the summer is progressing and specifically give an insightful snapshot into the day and life of a student at the Ottawa office.

The open-door policy we were promised during our interviews is definitely widely practiced and an important value of the firm.

The Ottawa office is located right in the heart of downtown Ottawa’s financial district. Each morning on our walk to the office, it is always nice to grab a coffee in one of the many coffee shops, and even stop and appreciate the beautiful views of the parliament buildings before making our way to the 14th floor of the Sun Life building.

Upon arriving at the office, there is no shortage of friendly faces. Everyone in the Ottawa office has been welcoming to the new students. Whether it is sharing laughs in the boardroom over the lunch hour, or honouring the departure of a fellow colleague over pizza; the students have been included in each event. From the assistants to the lawyers, to the law clerk, everyone is approachable and willing to help us with (what seems like) our never-ending questions. The open-door policy we were promised during our interviews is definitely widely practiced and an important value of the firm. The collegial atmosphere is particularly conducive for us students to learn because we feel comfortable to ask our questions, seek out direction, make and learn from our mistakes, and seize opportunities.

We have had the opportunity to work with each and every lawyer in the Ottawa office, and many lawyers in the Toronto office. I have found that the lawyers are genuinely interested in teaching and mentoring us students. They are also happy to assign us important and extremely interesting tasks. For example, I have already had the opportunity to personally correspond with clients, conduct extensive research, draft pleadings and even write a client reporting letter, to name a few! The great thing about our office and the firm, in general, is that it takes a very hands-on learning approach. There is a great balance between having the freedom to learn how to complete the assigned tasks independently and having the support and resources required to succeed.

This summer, we have been provided with the opportunities to participate in areas of litigation we could only read about in our civil procedure class! It is so fascinating to see what we learned from the pages of our textbooks practiced in real life. For example, I have been lucky enough to observe examinations for discoveries conducted by several lawyers, and I am excited to be attending a mediation next week.

The first half of the summer at McCague Borlack has been both challenging and rewarding. I have already been afforded invaluable practical litigation experience and I am excited to see what the second half of the summer holds!

Cassandra K.