Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Hard Hat and a Brief Case

*Conflict Check Email
A conflict check email is the first of many procedures the firm uses to ensure that no party to a potential action is in conflict with an existing client or an employee of the firm. The email contains the 'bare bones' of the case, including names, dates, and a one sentence summary of the issues involved. Although countless conflict checks are sent a day at our firm, it is necessary that each one be read with care because of the gravity of the legal and moral issues surrounding conflicts of interest.
In July of this year I spent several days shopping for a new wardrobe in preparation for the commencement of my Articling in August. I spent much of the time looking at suits, ties and of course a wide selection of Happy Socks. Two items of clothing though that I never envisioned myself needing for articles were a hard hat and safety vest…

I was sitting at my desk minding my own business when it all started with a 'conflict check' email.* In many instances these emails are sent out months after the incident or the "Date of Loss" as lawyers typically do not get involved in files until that time. It always piques my interest when a 'conflict check' is sent out very near the time of the incident which can indicate the magnitude of the potential claim. The email I received that day -- the 'conflict check' was sent the very date of the incident itself!

Heavy Machinery Mishap

One of our firm's clients had an incident involving heavy machinery which resulted in an investigation by the Ministry of Labour. I was asked to drive out to the construction site and assess the situation as the story was unfolding on the ground. Before I left, I received my detailed instructions and was told that I could only enter the site if I was 'geared up'. As time was of the essence, I quickly borrowed steel-toe boots and the rest of the necessary safety attire and drove out to assess the incident.

Humbling & Educational

As I was way out of my comfort zone, it was humbling to realize that even with all of my years of school and training, there were many things that I did not know the first thing about and, at the same time, it brought my education to life. All those readings about the 'lawyer-client' relationship, sprung into action when I was sitting down, one-on-one with the client, reviewing strategy and discussing how to approach an ongoing and developing story.

As I drove back to the office from my site visit, I marveled at how after only a few weeks of articling, I was charged with a task that bore great responsibility and put me face-to-face with a client in their time of need.

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