Wednesday 28 November 2018

A Day in Divisional Court

It probably goes without saying, but as a student interested in litigation, if you ever get the chance to get into the courtroom, either to present or watch, you take it! Earlier this month, I was tasked to observe a judicial review hearing in the case of Sabadash v Statefarm at the Divisional Court.

If you are not familiar with Divisional Court, it is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice and acts as an appellate court. It hears certain types of appeals and applications for judicial review.

Unlike a trial, where there is one judge and sometimes a jury, counsel at Divisional Court present to three judges of the Superior Court. Counsel in Sabadash v Statefarm worked to persuade Madame Justice Swinton, Madame Justice Copeland, and Madame Justice Thorburn, a formidable panel of accomplished judges.

"As an appellate court, parties don’t advance new evidence at the hearing; instead, they muster their best legal arguments in support of their position."

In Sabadash v Statefarm, the legal issues were:
  • What is the standard of review for a Director’s Delegate’s decision at the Financial Services Tribunal?
  • What is the proper test for causation in accident benefits cases, “but-for” or “material contribution”?
  • What remedy should be ordered?
Observing appellate work is incredibly useful, especially to young lawyers. In under two hours, I observed two talented senior counsel present their arguments and listened as the judges asked various questions of each side. When arguing appellate work, you have to be ready to answer disjointed questions about any step of an analysis and know the foundation for your argument like the back of your hand.

Another useful strategy I learned in law school and observed being used by counsel was the use of an argument roadmap. Before launching into an hour-long presentation/conversation with your judges, they want to know what you’re going to talk about, and when they can ask the questions of you they formulated reviewing your material.

If you ever get the opportunity to get out of class or the office I can’t recommend Divisional Court hearings enough. Attending this hearing was a great way to expand my learning in a substantive area of law that I am practicing. It provided me with the chance to improve my advocacy by watching senior and experienced counsel, and finally, I was able to speak with both counsel, meeting members of the Toronto and Ottawa bar.

Outside of Toronto, Divisional Court sits infrequently on an annual schedule. If you are interested in learning about the Divisional Court, call your local courthouse to see when it is sitting next.

by Lee C.

Friday 9 November 2018

The Art of Settlement: Lessons Learned from My First Pre-Trial Conference

Early into my articling term, I was given the opportunity to assist a lawyer on a claim involving a motor vehicle accident. The matter was coming up for a pre-trial conference, which is one of the last opportunities for the parties to settle the dispute. Having been asked to assist with the materials,

"I reviewed the file, drafted the pre-trial brief, and
was ready to attend my very first pre-trial conference."

In law school, many of the oral advocacy courses that I took involved mediation or some form of negotiation. However, I didn’t really know what to expect from the pre-trial. When asked, the lawyer described it as an informal discussion with a judge to help the parties narrow the issues to essentially reach a settlement. This description turned out to be fairly accurate.

The pre-trial took place in a setting resembling that of a boardroom. Soon after the judge entered the room, he attempted to gauge the parties’ appetite for settlement. He also wanted to learn about the main barriers to settlement. I was amazed at how the lawyers, after a series of caucuses with the judge, were able to pinpoint the issues in a relatively short period of time and ultimately come to an agreement.

Below are my top five takeaways from the pre-trial conference:

  1. Preparation is key. It is very important to know the facts of your case inside out. This will help you narrow the issues and make the most of the opportunity to obtain a settlement.
  2. Be confident in your position. This can be achieved by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your client’s case and anticipating the arguments of opposing counsel. When you are confident in your position, you have a better chance of convincing the other side to consider your point of view.
  3. Times flies - use the time effectively. You only have two hours with the pre-trial judge. While settlement discussions may continue after the pre-trial, it is important to use this time effectively if the parties wish to settle the matter.
  4. Settlement negotiation is an art form. Like all art, it requires practice. Each lawyer has their own unique negotiation style and technique. It is only by practicing and observing others that you will be able to develop a negotiating style of your own.
  5. Pre-trial judges act like mediators. The pre-trial judge, in this case, had reviewed all of the materials in advance and was therefore very helpful in evaluating the positions of the parties to facilitate settlement.

Overall, the pre-trial conference was a valuable learning experience. I hope to use what I have learned at future pre-trials and settlement conferences.

Andrew V.

Friday 19 October 2018

A Letter to the Next Generation of Law Students

Dear Future Lawyer:

You’re probably very busy, so I’ll keep it brief. I’m three months into my articling term, and there are definitely a few things I wish I knew as a summer student.

First of all, breathe. Like most law students, you’re either a) a perfectionist, b) a high-achiever, or c) eager to please (and if you’re anything like me, you’re (d) all of the above). As such, you’ll get frustrated when receiving your first few assignments. You’ll probably ask yourself: (1) “what are they even asking me to do?”, and (2) “why is it taking me so long?” Relax. You’re not unintelligent, and no, your firm did not somehow hire you by accident.

"What you’re feeling, imposter’s syndrome, is normal."

My first assignment was a brief, two-page initial report on a small claims file – I needed three full working days and numerous meetings with the supervising lawyer before it was submitted to the client. The good news is, I can now draft most reports in a matter of hours. “But when will I be able to work faster?” you may ask. Unfortunately, there’s no exact answer. But by month no. 3 of the articling term, there is a great improvement in both the quality and the efficiency of our first drafts. Also, your mentoring lawyers want you to work hard, but not drive yourself crazy! They’ll never give you work you can’t handle, and they’re always happy to answer questions.

Second, follow your instincts. You will hear all kinds of suggestions from all sorts of people. As a self-proclaimed advice-soliciting aficionado, I can guarantee that some of the answers to the same questions will conflict (and may even fully contradict one another). I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there is no “one size fits all” on how to approach something (i.e. how to choose your attendances, manage your workload…etc.) Individual critical thinking skills are essential. You “do you”, and if your style needs tweaking, you will get help along the way. And while I’m on the topic of carving your own path, I’d like to quickly mention the use of assignment precedents: they’re amazing time savers, but they are just a guide. We are training to be lawyers and we are expected to be able to draft documents to suit the situation. Also, overuse makes you prone to typos and other sloppy errors (seriously, how many times have I forgotten to change the court file number at the top right corner and needed to reprint the first page). Three months into your articling term, you’ll find yourself having enough confidence to say things like, “well, I can draft a motion record, I don’t need a precedent and if I do use one it will be mine…”

Finally, never turn down an opportunity to learn. Lawyers will ask you: “what’s your capacity like?” Unless you’ve been awake for the last 72 hours straight, or have several last-minute assignments with limitations expiring the next day, you’re not at full capacity. Some of my favourite files started off as a walk-in request while I was neck-deep in other work. In addition, you stop learning the minute you shift responsibility onto something (or even someone) else. Even though support staff can be very helpful; it’s incredibly important that you learn how to do administrative tasks as well. But mistakes will happen, even three months into articling. And when they do happen, do your best to fix it while reminding yourself that it’s all a part of the process (albeit a more painful part).

Students are told that the key to success is to be respectful, humble, and hardworking. I’d also like to add that it’s important to be kind to yourself as well – everyone has to start somewhere.

Yours very truly,

Émilie-Anne P.

An Articling Student

P.S. Coffee is not a meal substitute, always bring a pen and paper with you everywhere, and remember to pay it forward to the next generation. Good luck

Monday 8 October 2018

Articling Student Style: What to Wear on Interview Day

When preparing for OCI and In-Firm interviews, one of the most daunting decisions is: what do I wear? Although seasoned lawyers live in their suits, in law school we often attend class in very casual clothes. For many, a summer position at a law firm may be the first time that you have worked in a professional environment, so figuring out how to dress can be intimidating.

I remember spending hours stressing out with my friends in law school over which colour of suit was the most professional, and what type of shoes were appropriate. To save you the same headache, 

the articling students at McCague Borlack have provided tips on what to wear
(and what not to wear) on interview day along with some photos.

What We Wore
or a dress & blazer with flats
like Karolina...
You're sure to Impress!

Whether you choose a skirt
with heels like Emilie...
After polling the women, it is clear that navy or black is the interview colour of choice. You can’t go wrong with either a pant or skirt suit or a dress with a blazer. Some of us wore heels (anywhere from 1.5 inches to 3 inches) and others opted for flats (so you don’t have to hurt your feet if you don’t feel comfortable in heels!)

When it comes to women’s office wear, Priya...
and Jess know black is the new black.

Yousef & Andrew looking tough
& office appropriate.
For the men, blue suits and grey suits were the clear winners. Lighter coloured dress shirts were the most popular, with either white or light blue being the most reported.


We love Lee’s tie – it really livens up his
outfit while keeping things professional!
All of the students stressed letting your personality shine through your accessories, such as a funky tie, crazy socks, or your bright blue glasses. If you wear your hair naturally curly, then keep it curly for your interviews. Don’t feel like you need to sacrifice your identity to fit into a mould, so be yourself and don’t be afraid to add some personality to your look.

Where to Shop

  • Le Chateau (Jessica)
  • Banana Republic (Emile)
  • Winners and HBC (Karolina and Priya)
  • Suit Supply (Yousef)
  • Strellson (Andrew)
  • Calvin Klein (Theo)
  • Moores (Lee)
  • Suzy Shier (Howard Borlack)

What Not to Wear

The overwhelming response we received from the articling students is to make sure your suit fits – if your suit is too big or too small, it detracts from your presentation. The same goes for hair. Keep your hair and facial hair well-kept/groomed. Any hairstyle is fine – just keep it neat.

The students suggest leaving the sundresses and wedges at home as it’s a bit unprofessional – and out of season for November. I also received very specific advice: no electric blue suits.

Another point that was repeated was to avoid wearing anything you don’t feel comfortable in. It’s hard to smile if you’re breaking in new shoes. You want to be confident in your interview, so don’t include anything that makes you feel self-conscious!

Theo, from our Kitchener office,
keeping it cool.
Tips to Keep Fresh all Day

If it’s within your budget, it’s nice to have a place downtown where you can keep a spare shirt/suit in case you spill something on yourself. The students reported booking Air-BnB, splitting the cost of a hotel with a friend, or staying with a friend or family member who lives downtown.

I also suggest bringing a pocket-sized sewing kit. At my interview, I opted for a button-up shirt under my blazer. It looked great, but two minutes before I met my interviewers a button popped off! Luckily the receptionist at MB came to my rescue with a pin – but imagine if that wasn't available!


All the students were in unanimous agreement that you shouldn’t stress out about your interview outfit. As long as you’re prepared, confident, and polished, you’re going to do well.

Below is a checklist of all of the items to bring along on "interview" day. Print it off and use it as you pack your bag for In-Firms.

Check-list of helpful items for In-Firms

  • Multiple copies of your resume and cover letter and any other parts of your application.
  • A notepad and pen – you’ll want to have this to write down your impressions after the interview. It will really help when you’re writing your thank you emails. Believe me, the day will become a blur.
  • Breath strips – they dissolve so you can talk, unlike mints/gum.
  • Hand sanitizer – for keeping your hands fresh for handshakes.
  • Tide-to-go, or similar.
  • A briefcase/large purse.
  • Flat shoes – if you’re opting for heels make sure you give your feet a break by hiding flats in your bag for when you’re running between offices.
  • Snacks – bananas, granola bars. You will get hungry, and you probably won’t have time to stop for lunch.
  • Water
  • Lip balm
  • Band-Aids – try to break in your shoes ahead of time, but keep these handy just in case. o Tissues
  • Deodorant – it’s a loooong day.
  • Phone charger – If you’re unfamiliar with Toronto, GPS is super helpful. You’ll also want to stay on top of your emails throughout the day.
  • A small mirror – very useful for making sure you don’t have any food in your teeth from lunch.
  • Floss – see above.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Firsts: Arguing a Motion On My Own

On just my second day of articling, I went to court to argue a motion. While this was my first time arguing a motion on my own, it felt entirely routine. When I received the assignment, an associate handed me the motion record and said, “Here, go argue this tomorrow”. A brief wave of panic came over me until I realized it was a simple, unopposed motion, and more procedural than anything else. I also realized that while articling students are allowed to argue motions, my firm wouldn’t throw me into one on the second day if I could get everyone into trouble.

That afternoon, I brought myself up to speed on the file and courtroom etiquette, and I was ready to go. As a summer student here last year, I would never have imagined arguing a motion on my own. Now, as an articling student, I can imagine it because I’ve done everything leading up to it. I spent last summer working on motion materials and observing other lawyers argue motions. The world of motions was somewhat demystified.

"There’s something to be said about being thrown into things and learning on your feet."

The next morning, I arrived at the courthouse early to settle in and find my way around. I worked as a court reporter in my previous, pre-law school life and was very excited to be back in court. The Superior Court of Justice in Brampton is one of the larger local courthouses, and home to all kinds of matters—criminal and civil alike. It was unsurprisingly busy.

While this was my first time at that courthouse, everything was instantly familiar. While each courthouse has its nuances, once you figure out the process, you can navigate most of them. I flashed my LSO card through security (for the first time!), found my matter on the docket, and proceeded upstairs to my courtroom in under 5 minutes. As I was early, I sat in the waiting area, where I re-read my motion materials and checked, several times, that I was indeed at the correct courtroom—and I’m not going to lie, correct courthouse.

Once the doors opened, people filed in en masse—and I, with them. As I filled out my counsel slip, I noticed that everyone else was gowned. I, of course, was not gowned because I don’t have a gown—yet. One of the lawyers noticed this too and asked me about it. When he learned that I was a student, he was surprised to hear I was on my feet on only my second day of articling. “Oh, it’s just a WAGG motion today”, I replied casually. Of course, I was arguing it, what a great opportunity to get on my feet early—and in a safe environment, as my motion was unopposed.

That day, I really understood what lawyers at this firm have been telling me all along. As a student, I would be thrown into the water and learn to swim—with lifejackets and lifeguards on standby, of course. Here I was, arguing a simple, uncontested motion on my own, and my experience here last summer prepared me well. As a summer student, my first assignment was to bring an urgent motion. By the time the summer was over, I had drafted motion materials over and over again and became familiar with the different types of motions. As a bonus, my experience here also helped me when I took Advanced Civil Procedure and studied for the bar.

As for this motion, everything went well. I got our order, didn’t get yelled at, and I remembered where I parked.

Monday 20 August 2018

Our "Eat Pray Love" break in between...

Before we - The 2017 Summer Students - returned for our final year of law school, we asked many of the lawyers what would be the best way to spend our break between the bar exams and the start of our articling term.

A common (and encouraging) response was that we should
travel and experience other parts of the world.

So here is what we did:

Jessica: I travelled to Croatia, Spain, Germany, and Italy. Hvar, Croatia and Barcelona, Spain are tied as my favourite cities. I met up with an old friend in Barcelona who had grown up there and she showed me all of the popular local spots. In Hvar, I discovered a “secret” beach that was only accessible on-foot after an hour-long trek through rough terrain (and of course, I was wearing flip-flops!)

In Spain, I really enjoyed the tapas. My favourites were the patatas bravas and the lobster croquette. The patatas bravas was super crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside. The lobster looked so good that I ordered seconds right after the first one arrived!

Emilie-Anne: I went to England, France, Greece, and Italy. My favourite city was Fira, Santorini, Greece which had the most beautiful sunsets over the Caldera.

What I enjoyed most during my trip was visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris. There are so many things to see in the Louvre; it’s impossible to view it all in one day. My favourite exhibit was the Mona Lisa (obviously). The desserts in Paris were amazing! Their sugar doughnuts put Tim Hortons to shame.

Karolina: I travelled to Playa del Carmen, then spent the rest of the summer exploring Toronto and catching up with family and friends. I hosted a food crawl across Toronto called the “Day of Gluttony”. We tried 12 restaurants in 12 hours and discovered a bunch of hidden gems. Some of my favourites were Dai Lo (Asian fusion), Pinky’s Ca Phe (Vietnamese), Seven Lives Tacos, and The Big Chill (classic ice cream parlour).

Andrew: I went to Spain, France, Netherlands, and Portugal. Paris was my favourite city because I got engaged there! I also loved the food and the architecture. I watched the world cup finals between France and Croatia in Paris and I got to celebrate the victory with the locals.

I had a really good lamb dish at a Mediterranean restaurant, also in Paris. It was extremely tender and paired nicely with Israeli wine.

Yousef: I went to Spain and Egypt. In Spain, I visited Seville, Cordoba, and Granada to see the many historic sites that they have to offer. The unique blend of Arab and Spanish culture was really interesting to experience. My favourite activity was swimming! In Alexandria, Egypt, I swam in the Mediterranean which featured large waves that were great for body surfing. In Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, I had the chance to scuba dive with the fish in the Red Sea.

In Seville, I ordered chicken breast stuffed with pistachio and dates. When I ordered this dish, I had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be great. The flavours were surprisingly complementary. I am excited to try and recreate it at home!

Final Thoughts

Although we are fortunate and thankful that we had the opportunity to travel this summer, we are eager and excited to be back at McCague and begin our articling term.

Saturday 18 August 2018

Why Litigation?

It is that (exciting) time of the year when law students are preparing for their applications for 2018 recruitment and are reaching out to summer law students and associates to learn about their firm and experience.

One of the common questions that I have been asked is 
"How did you know you liked litigation?”


In my first year of law school, I participated in two moot competitions. It was exhilarating to step up to the podium, be tackled with difficult questions by the Judge, and have to formulate an answer on the spot.

Similar to mooting, having to speak in front of a Judge, Master, and others is common in litigation. The summer students at McCague Borlack LLP have attended mediations, discoveries, motions, and pre-trials, with the associates to learn various litigating styles.

Having experience with moots helps to know whether you will enjoy litigation. However, if you do not have mooting experience, that is okay!

Exposure to the Courtroom

As an extern at the Michigan Court of Appeals, I spent a few days at Court observing litigators. During those few days, I sat quietly at the back of the courtroom and watched both Judges and litigators converse, trying to come to a resolution for the legal issue at hand. After I completed my externship, I knew that litigating is something I wanted to pursue in my legal career.

Thursday 9 August 2018

A front row seat to a human rights hearing

From day one at McCague Borlack, I assisted an associate with different aspects of a human rights matter. After researching case law, drafting a witness statement, and compiling a book of documents, I was excited to finally attend the hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The Vice-Chair initially proposed the option of participating in a mediated adjudication. This is a quicker way to negotiate a resolution that gives parties more autonomy over the terms. Although we were not successful, the terms discussed would not be brought up at the hearing.

At the hearing, the Vice-Chair determines whether the applicants had their rights infringed and if so, what the appropriate remedy is. To start off, an agreed statement of facts saves time and avoids producing the same documents multiple times. By weeding out the non-controversial facts, the focus of the hearing is on the divisive issues. However, agreeing on the facts is a negotiation exercise between lawyers.

The Vice-Chair’s decision is based only on relevant information at the hearing. This is presented orally through witnesses’ testimony and documentary evidence.

Relevance is based on two factors:
  • Whether the respondent treats the applicant differently or in a way that had a negative impact based on a ground of discrimination in the Human Rights Code, i.e. disability; and
  • Whether the applicant suffered a disadvantage or a loss, i.e. loss to the applicant’s sense of self-worth and dignity

Over the two-day hearing, I observed three witnesses engage in examination-in-chief and cross-examination. These are my three takeaways:
  1. Know the answer before asking the witness a question.
  2. Prepare your witness so they remember the evidence they need to give in their testimony. Since applicants may testify as witnesses to their own hearing, they are emotionally invested in the outcome. However, this is not the time for witnesses to vent their grievances.
  3. Avoid open-ended questions and restrict the testimony to admissible evidence. It is crucial to have the witness give evidence that helps your argument.

Since this hearing was extended by another two days, I was not able to observe submissions and closing arguments. The outcomes of the hearing can include a dismissal or a remedy in the form of a monetary award or order. Ultimately, the Human Rights Code is meant to remedy an infringement of human rights, rather than be punitive. Tribunals commonly “reserve” their decisions, so this decision will likely be released on CanLII in Fall 2018.
Egi T.

Monday 30 July 2018

Networking Tips for the 2L Recruit

The application deadline for the 2019 Toronto 2L summer student recruit is August 20th – less than a month away. By now, many of you have started to update your resumes and draft your cover letters. A lot goes into a cover letter, and you don’t have much space to work with.

Many applicants reserve a line or two in their cover letters to mention if they have reached out to someone at the firm to which they are applying – a student, a junior lawyer, or even a senior partner if they so desire.

"This shows employers reviewing your applications that you have done your homework on the firm and are applying out of genuine interest in working there."

 It is also your opportunity to really investigate the firms to see what might be the best fit for you and get comfortable striking up conversations with people you don’t already know – which is an important skill when it comes to interviews.

Even if you don’t have time to contact someone at every firm you apply to, you should try for as many as possible. It can’t hurt your application to show that you made an effort.

Who should you reach out to?

The most accessible (and probably least intimidating) people are summer and articling students. They can give you the best insight into what it is like to be a student at their firm because they are currently experiencing it. They are also not very far removed from being in the exact position you are in, so they know what you are experiencing and can give you great advice.

Junior lawyers are also great to reach out to, as they will have better than a faint memory of the application process and are happy to chat about their experiences with interested students. They can also speak to the transition from student to lawyer, and how their firm manages that shift.

Senior lawyers are happy to speak with you, however, they are generally busy and you will likely need to schedule a time to speak in advance. They can share particular insight into their various practices, which might be helpful, especially if you are considering applying to boutique firms, or are eager to explore certain practice areas at larger full-service firms.

Do not feel obligated to choose just one person from each firm to speak to – talking to as many people as possible is the best way to get a feel for the firms to which you are applying.

How should you reach out to them?

The easiest way to make contact is by email. You can look to firm websites for contact information, and your school’s career services office might give out the email addresses of students who previously got positions through the recruit. When writing to someone, always introduce yourself and indicate why you are contacting them. Say that you are thinking of applying to their firm, and ask if they are free to schedule a call or a meeting to answer your questions about the firm. Be cordial, and just like in your applications, make sure you are using proper grammar and avoid mistakes – you always want to make a good impression, no matter who the recipient is.

Cold-calling is also fine. The person you call might be busy and have to call you back, or you might get their voicemail. Be respectful and play it the same way as you would in an email.

Meeting with someone in person is a great way to make a connection, but is by no means obligatory. If you’re applying broadly, you might not have time to meet 40 people for coffee. Use your time efficiently and make sure you are getting the most out of your networking opportunities.

This probably goes without saying but I’ll include it anyway: don’t show up at the office unannounced.

What should you ask them?

Now that you have scheduled your call/meeting, think about what you want to ask. Make sure to review the firm’s website before your call/meeting so that you are familiar with the firm’s practice areas and how their student program operates.

  • Ask about the person’s experience at the firm as a student (or as a lawyer, or both). Ask about what a typical week is like for them – that might give you a sense of the types of files they are working on and (if they are a student) the types of assignments that they might receive. Recognize that different firms give their students different degrees of responsibility.
  • Ask why they like working at the firm, and if they prefer the size of the firm to a larger or smaller environment. These are questions that will get them talking about the firm culture and the advantages and drawbacks of different firm sizes – important things to consider when applying and ultimately deciding where to accept a position.
  • Definitely ask about how the firm helps its students make the transition from law school to law firm, and then from student to associate. Students and lawyers will be quick to tell you that you know very little about the practice of law coming out of school, so the way the firm helps you navigate those challenges is important for your decision.
  • If you have an interest in a particular practice area, ask about it. The student or lawyer probably knows more than you and can explain that area of law, as well as the aspects of the practice that they like. Take interest in learning about different practice areas. This is your opportunity to be a sponge and learn as much as possible.

Take note: if the firm doesn’t advertise how much they pay for the summer or exactly how students are assigned work or any less substantive questions that you would like to have answered, the students are your best resource. They had the exact same questions that you now have and understand that at such an early stage in the recruit, any piece of information is helpful.

Lastly, be yourself when networking. Authenticity goes a long way and you want to find a firm that will be a good fit for you. Meeting new people should be enjoyable, so have fun with it!

P.S. Experiences and opinions may vary so always keep an open mind.

Best of luck with the process!

Ryan S.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

6 Simple Steps to a Successful Summer

As is common when starting our first day at our firms, we are all full of nervous energy. We are anxious because we do not know what to expect but we do know we want to impress.

For my entire life, I have lived by a saying my father told me and it guides me every day while working at McCague Borlack.

“You only get out of something what you put into it.”

This has sparked 6 simple steps to having a successful summer at any firm.

Never say No

Since summering and articling are both designed for students to absorb as much information as possible in order to become self-sufficient lawyers, saying no to a task is only a missed opportunity. It is important to recognize that, even with the smallest of tasks, we are learning what the practice of law is like and it is not always glamorous.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule 

While summering and articling, you will be handed tasks sporadically or all at the same time. Whether you are on a rotation or receive tasks through other means, it is incredibly important to stay organized, keep track of all ongoing assignments and schedule all deadlines. I also recommend triaging tasks depending on the time-sensitivity and importance of the matters to ensure that a deadline is never missed. Sometimes, this is a very fluid process because an assignment may come across your desk that needs to be completed immediately. For me, lists and charts are vital!

Research is Key

For many students, this is the first time working in a law firm and they may even be the first in their family to go to law school or university! (I fall into the latter category). This means that you may come by concepts or problems in your work that you have never heard of. Do not fret if this happens to you because this is the very nature of the practice of law. The field is constantly growing and changing, which is why there is a need for continuing legal education. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not know, this is where your excellent research skills will be of use. Try to research as much as you can before you ask a question. You are not expected to know everything but the last message you want to send to your supervising lawyers is that you did not try.

Be open-minded

When I was applying to law firms and organizations during the OCI process, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I love learning and there were a few areas of law I knew I did not want to practice but other than that, I did not restrict myself. It is this open-mindedness that led me to McCague Borlack. Now I love the practice of insurance law, which is more multi-faceted than I imagined. If I were closed-minded to this option, I would have missed out on this fantastic opportunity.

Put in that hard work

I think this one is obvious. Your relationship with your firm should be mutually beneficial. You should be learning from experienced lawyers, paralegals, law clerks and assistants while producing great work for them. Of course, perfection is not always possible, but it is something to strive for.

Be proud

This one may sound silly but I think it might be the most important step of them all! I need to remind myself once I finish a task that I did it! Doing this will help you start a healthy relationship with your work. You were chosen by your firm for a reason and if you work hard and follow the above steps, you should be proud of every achievement. Every step you make at this point in the “game” brings you that much closer to what you have worked for most of your life.

by Brittany R.

Friday 6 July 2018

The Virgin Diary - My First Mediation

For my first assignment as a summer student, I assisted with a case that has been ongoing for eight years. The case was a complicated one with multiple legal issues. The file was made inherently more difficult by the number of parties involved. In law school, we read about cases only once judgments have been released but we were not exposed to all the work, time and effort that leads up to that conclusion.

"Outside of the theory of law school classes, I learned that the practice of law
 is not quite the same as portrayed in legal textbooks."

Last week, I was provided with the opportunity to attend the mediation for this case. I had never experienced any form of ADR (other than those I watched from my couch on tv) so I did not know what exactly to expect. This mediation was a great learning experience about how a mediation is conducted and how each lawyer has a unique style.

Below are my top 5 unexpected discoveries from the mediation:

Everyone is cordial. Unlike in Suits or similar legal dramas where lawyers are snarky and combative towards one another, the lawyers, even those on opposing sides, were respectful and courteous.

It is time-consuming. We arrived at the location of the mediation at 10 a.m. and did not leave the venue until 4:15 p.m. While the mediation I attended settled in that time frame, some mediations take even longer.

Food! From the minute we arrived at the mediation venue until the very end of the day, food was at the centre of everyone’s mind. Everyone eats throughout the entire day. You have to keep up your energy when advocating for your client!

There can be a lot of free time. A big aspect of mediation is negotiations, with the mediator acting as the intermediary between the parties. While the negotiation aspect of the mediation is taking place, the mediator may separate the parties into different rooms to determine what each party is seeking to gain from the mediation process. While the mediator is with one party, the opposing party/parties are playing the waiting game.

pixabay GDJ

It provides great networking opportunities. Being in a room full of lawyers has its benefits, especially for someone just starting out in the legal profession. At the venue where this mediation took place, there were multiple boardrooms with many different meetings, such as mediations, taking place. With so many lawyers in one location, it makes for a great opportunity to meet and talk with other members of the legal community.

Overall the mediation was a great experience and I look forward to being exposed to many more new opportunities as the summer continues.

By Israel K.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Let’s Get Cracking: Tips for 2L Summer Recruitment Prep

The dreaded first year of law school has come to an end — grades have been released and summer is in full swing. Although the hardest part of law school is now in the past, the hard work is far from over since prepping for the recruitment process is just around the corner.

"One of your main takeaways of 1L should have been that
procrastination can be detrimental to your success."

Honing your time management skills by planning in advance and leaving yourself some buffer time can go a long way. Approach the OCI process in a similar fashion. Start early — your nerves will thank you.

What is the 2L recruitment process?
  1. Submitting your applications;
  2. Receiving your OCI schedule;
  3. On-Campus Interviews (OCIs);
  4. Call Day for scheduling in-firm interviews;
  5. In-Firm Interviews; and
  6. Call Day for final offers.
I’ll expand on the first stage in this blog post, since breaking down the entire process may be overwhelming at this point. Don’t fret — you can access several online resources as well as get advice from your peers and the Career Development Office at your school, to help guide you through the entire process when the time comes… At this stage, just focus on perfecting your application to leave a good first impression on your chosen firms.

How to Successfully Prepare and Submit your Applications

The recruitment process begins with students drafting their applications and submitting them electronically to their chosen firms. A typical application will include a resume, cover letter, transcripts, and a list of anticipated upper-year courses. It may sound straightforward, but prepare to spend countless hours adjusting font size and scrolling through looking for synonyms that make you sound like a unicorn.

pixabay - jeshootscomAlthough most firms will accept your completed application through an online server that will be set up specifically for this recruitment process, some firms (like McCague Borlack) will only accept applications through e-mail. The online server has an added bonus for anxiety-prone students — you’ll be able to see exactly when each firm opens and reviews your application, which will subsequently send you into a spiral of anguish and overthought. Thus, do yourself a favour and don’t look! I would compare this feature of the online server to that time we all sat and refreshed the acceptance forums on when we impatiently waited to get accepted into law school.

Make sure to do your research by looking at each individual firm's website to learn what documents they require and how they would like to receive your completed application. Firms are looking for diligent students who can follow instructions and pay attention to detail, so triple-check your application before hitting “Send” because a mistake this early on would give firms an easy reason to take you out of the running.

An easy way to organize your prep for applications would be to make an Excel spreadsheet that lists the following:
  1. firms you’re applying to;
  2. documents each firm requires;
  3. how the firms would like to receive your documents (i.e. through the server or e-mail);
  4. who to address your application to;
  5. the area of law the firm specializes in (i.e. corporate or litigation);
  6. three notable things about their student program (or the firm generally);
  7. a list of people you have met or want to meet at the firm; and
  8. anything else you think you should know about the firm for application purposes.
This spreadsheet will make your life a lot easier because you won’t have to keep scouring the internet when you’re finalizing your cover letter. All of the information you will need to know for the purpose of drafting the firm-specific cover letter will be neatly laid out in front of you. This spreadsheet will also come in handy during Step 3 and Step 5 of the recruitment process. Not only will you have a list of people you’ve reached out to at each firm (so you can slip their name in during the actual interview), you will also be able to remind yourself of what you wrote months ago in your cover letter (OCIs take place 1-2 months after applications are due).

In order to ensure your application is perfect and polished, send your completed cover letter and résumé to a friend and/or mentor who would be willing to read it over in order to catch any last-minute spelling and grammar errors. This is an extremely important step — don’t be that guy (or girl) who mixes up “their”, “they’re”, or “there”.

Final Words of Wisdom

The best advice I could give students about the application portion of this process would be to start early. The application deadline is set for August 20th, 2018, by 5:00pm. McCague Borlack is accepting applications via email to If you plan on networking prior to the process kicking off (which is always a good idea), I would recommend starting no later than the beginning of July. You are expected to tailor each application to the firm you’re applying to, so what better way to get a feel for the firm culture, student program, and summer student work tasks than to ask the current 2L summer students, associates, partners, and student recruiters.

Lastly, please note that not every firm sends out confirmation e-mails acknowledging receipt of your application, so, unfortunately, you will have to put your faith in technology and hang tight until the OCI schedule gets posted.  Good luck with the process!
by Alyona K.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Articling in Ottawa - Yours to Discover

The 2L recruitment process is all about Bay Street. But if Toronto’s Big Law scene isn’t for you, don’t let yourself get caught up in feeling pressure to apply. Instead, look around to see what else is out there – you might be pleasantly surprised!

For students like me who didn’t participate in the Toronto recruitment process, it’s hard to find information that will help inform your opinion about firms. Where to apply, what each firm is about, and which firm is your “top choice” quickly become daunting questions.

"Take your time learning about each firm online.
Reach out to students and lawyers.
Call them. Go to coffee. Ask questions."

Also, learn about the city you are considering. Many law firms hire their future lawyers from their students, so consider whether each firm is in a city you can see yourself building a life.

For those of you considering Ottawa for summer work, let me tell you what you can look forward to. Ottawa has its own unique culture. We are hard-working but laid-back and collegial; we love pubs, live music, and summer festivals; we have beautiful outdoor spaces, and an endless number of hiking and biking trails, including Gatineau National Park. We also have a much-underestimated foodie scene, with tasty bites in the hipster Hintonburg area, trendy Glebe area, and of course, the well-known historic Byward Market. Or, if the sun is shining, opt for a picnic along the Rideau Canal or on Parliament Hill!

smile4yourself - pixabay
As a law student, you will love visiting the Supreme Court of Canada to imagine your future office or touring the Parliament buildings, including the beautiful and authentic 1876 Library of Parliament. Right downtown you’ll also find the National Arts Centre, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian War Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and many more Museums and historical sites.

The moral of the story, Ontario has a lot of beautiful and well-rounded cities to work and build a life in. If Bay Street isn’t a good fit for you, discover other beautiful cities in Ontario.
by Carly J.

Thursday 14 June 2018

The Step from Law School to Law Firm

Since I was hired at the firm, I had been anticipating my first day at work and had a few queries.

"Has law school adequately prepared me for working in a firm?
Will I be a good fit? Is it going to be like the show Suits?"

Having completed one week of orientation and almost one week of assignments, I can reflect on my experience so far. But first,  I can confirm, that although the filming of Suits takes place down the street, the show is quite removed from reality.

Orientation Week

We began with introductions and throughout the week attended seminars on topics such as civil litigation, affidavits, motions, insurance law, legal research, docketing, Westlaw, and “How to McCague”. It sounds substantive, but the oatmeal cookies made up for it.

The students toured the firm, the Great Library of Osgoode Hall, a courthouse, and fit in our own unofficial tours of some food places in between.

Aside from learning about the law and the firm, the students were given time to learn about each other. By the end of the week, we agreed that the firm did a great job of hiring such a compatible group of students.

by rawpixel at pixabay
First Impressions & The Importance of Mentorship and Helping Each Other

The mentorship between the employees at MB is apparent and has made the step from law school to law firm more manageable.

The six Toronto summer students are placed in an open-concept workspace so that we can help each other as much as possible, which has proven to be effective. Whenever one of us has a question, we do our best to ensure the question is answered. Truly, no man (or woman) is left behind.

On our first day, some of the articling students took the summer students for a tour of the food court downstairs. Over lunch, they provided us with incredibly helpful tips and their own informal “How to McCague.”

Diverse Assignments

My second week working as a summer student has already been rewarding. So far, we have received at least one assignment per day. Examples of assignments are drafting pleadings, memos, affidavit of documents, arguing motions, and attending a trial. Thus far, I have been given assignments in four areas of litigation and hope to explore more. While each assignment has a challenging element, taking one step at a time is essential.

photographer Christopher Burns on
Like any experience, each one is unique. Taking the step from law school to a law firm has been a positive experience for me.

I look forward to what the rest of the summer has in store for us!

by Anisha B.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Essential Gear - A Survival Guide for Articling Students

Before I go backcountry camping, I triple check that I have packed all the essential gear – plenty of matches, my headlamp, the water purifier, etc. I have a feeling that if I ever forget my rain jacket, I will be in for a rainy canoe trip.

My articling experience is no different – the gear is key. Having all the essentials on hand helps me stay focused on the work.

The Rules of Civil Procedure

We consult the Rules daily and it is important to become familiar with them. The firm provides a print copy of the Rules that are kept in the Student bunker (the area of the firm where all articling student cubicles are located). You can look them up online, of course, but if you’re going to Court, bring the actual book so that it’s as easy as possible to flip to the appropriate Rule.

Blue Light Filtering Glasses

These filtered lenses can help to lessen the strain on your eyes caused by working on a computer all day. You can get them with or without a prescription.

Mos Mos Coffee Gift Card

This coffee shop, located on the concourse level of the Exchange Tower, is my go-to spot. Even if you only order a brewed coffee, they steam the milk and sprinkle cinnamon on top! If you load a gift card with $30 or more, they will add 10% to your card balance. Who doesn’t like discounts!?

Lip Balm & Hand Cream

Offices are dry places – stay hydrated, folks.

Brookside Chocolate & Kind Bars

Snacks can help tide you over until you can get home for dinner on nights when you just need to finish something before leaving work.

Comfy Shoes

I like the look of high heels but definitely not the feeling of wearing them all day. I like to keep a pair of flats at my desk to change into. Many of us also have Blundstones for the commute.

Carrot – the App

This step counting app incentivizes you to hit a daily step goal by rewarding you with loyalty card points. I’ve got mine set up to award me with Scene points when I hit my step goal. It encourages me to get moving daily and means that I can see a free movie every now and then.

Membership to a Professional Association

I’m a member of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario (WLAO), the Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA), and Young Women in Law. I enjoy attending networking events, professional development workshops, and social events with other articling students and lawyers. Membership fees at most associations are low for articling students. A couple of my favourite events this year included the WLAO’s Champagne and Shop Event at the Bay (I’m a bit biased since I co-hosted that one) and the TLA’s Articling Head Start Program. I’m excited to attend the Young Women in Law Gala later this spring with keynote speaker Margaret Atwood.

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Wireless Headphones

These cost a pretty penny but boy are they worth it! A colleague of mine had a pair while we were summering together and she convinced me to buy a pair. Since we work in an open-concept workspace, it can be noisy. So the headphones' noise-cancelling feature is very important to me. If music is distracting for you, I suggest you listen to a white noise track or nature sounds. To save money, buy a refurbished pair at the Toronto Premium Outlets’ Bose store. Incidentally, that outlet mall is also a great place to shop for work clothes.

I hope this kit list inspires you to surround yourself with whatever you need to feel comfortable, prepared, and ready to tackle any task that comes your way.

By Emily K.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

The "Practice" of Law

As I near the end of my articles (where did the time go?!) and reflect on the past eight months I keep going back to an “aha moment” that I feel is worthy of sharing. The moment where I was told by one of my mentors: remember, it’s called the practice of law.

"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good.
It's the thing you do that makes you good."

- Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers: The Story of Success

The majority of people in law are considered type-A personalities who strive to get it absolutely perfect the first time around. This appetite for immediate excellence is pulverized and rejigged once the natural reality of being an articling student sinks in. As an articling student, you are going to get it wrong. If your expectation as a student is to always draft an impeccable Statement of Claim/Defence, Affidavit of Documents, Liability and Damages Assessment, Mediation Memorandum etc…the first, second and even the third time around, wake up, you’re dreaming. I know, it is a hard hit to our high-achieving egos but as the saying goes - making mistakes is better than faking perfection. Your experience as an articling student will be far better if you arrive with an open attitude that you are here to learn and mistakes are inevitable.

Now, there are other ways of learning while minimizing the damage to our fragile egos, one being, that of learning from the mistakes of others. This takes me to another noteworthy piece of advice given to me: to attend and observe as many court appearances, mediations, discoveries, settlement conferences etc. as possible. I won’t touch on all of my experiences but can tell you with utmost confidence that when it came time for me to argue my first motion I was prepared for anything and everything that could have been thrown my way. This was owed to the fact that I observed a number of motions and took notes of what not to do when other articling students were being scolded by the presiding Master on issues such as improper service or why they attended court without a copy of the Rules of Civil Procedure to refer to when questioned on a relevant rule. In addition to this, if something was procedurally unclear to me I took the initiative to approach the Registrar and ask questions once the courtroom had cleared. This was also of major assistance when it was my turn to enter the courtroom as a representative and not a member of the public.

In the end, we all make mistakes, and the legal profession is no exception. As an articling student, you may not generate the final product or have a strong grasp on a specific process until after a few attempts, but that is ok and accepted. So for the future articling group coming in, do not forget - it is called the practice of law!
by Gabriela C.

Monday 5 March 2018

Advice from the Toronto Articling Students

The articling students at MB are almost at the finish line and the exposure we have gained so far has proved invaluable. We have had numerous opportunities to reflect on our experiences, ask for advice from our mentors, and hone our legal skills in an effort to become better lawyers. In the spirit of passing on the lessons we have learned, each of the Toronto students has provided words of advice, along with their top three highlights of their articling experience:

There is a steep learning curve for summer and articling students. It is important to ask questions and make use of the resources the firm provides you with. Work with as many lawyers as you can to get exposure to different styles and areas of law. While working on a file, take initiative by asking the lawyer if you can accompany them on discoveries, mediations, and motions. These attendances provide valuable learning opportunities, along with tips and strategies for developing your personal style.

  • Arguing my first motion;
  • Carriage of my own small claims file; and
  • Assisting in all aspects of a contentious and publicized personal injury file.

Mark  Advice:
Attend as many court appearances as possible! Watching senior counsel speak to the court is a great way to learn what practices to adopt and what practices to avoid as an oral advocate.


  • Assisted in drafting the intervenor materials in David Schnarr v Blue Mountain Resorts Limited and Woodhouse v Snow Valley Resorts (1987) Ltd on behalf of the Canadian Defence Lawyers;
  • Attended a cross-examination on an affidavit that was highly contentious; and
  • Argued a procedurally substantive motion on behalf of our client and other co-defendants.

Gabriela  Advice:
During your articles use precedents as a general guideline only; it is important to formulate your own ideas and style as early as possible as this will better prepare you for your transition to an associate.

  • Having my co-authored article published by LexisNexis;
  • Learning from my mentor; and
  • Observing and appearing at motions court.

Emily  Advice:
After a court appearance, stay and watch the matters that are being heard after yours – you’ll learn a lot!

  • Arguing my first trial at Small Claims Court;
  • Attending/speaking at my first settlement conference; and
  • Arguing my first contested motion.

Michelle  Advice:
“Plan your work and work your plan!”
Make sure you are aware of deadlines and try your best to meet them. Remember that some assignments have hard deadlines (e.g., court documents have to be filed by certain dates) versus soft deadlines (e.g., a summary or an AOD that a lawyer may need a few months from now).
Think about the big picture: what do you want to get out of articling? What practice area are you interested in? Which lawyers do you want to work with? You will have the ability and support to seek out the opportunities you want.
Remember that even when you do your best, things may not work out according to plan!

  • Working on a personal injury trial with interesting tort law issues;
  • Cookie decorating contest during the holidays; and
  • Sitting in on mediations, client meetings, and court attendances to see MB’ers in action!

Melissa  Advice:
Ask questions if you don’t understand your task. It is easy to become overly comfortable with following a precedent; but what if you didn’t have access to one? It is important to actually learn how to draft pleadings and other important documents without relying on a precedent. If you ask questions and understand why you are drafting these documents, eventually you will not have to rely on a precedent.
Triple-check your work. It’s easy to overlook errors in the minor details because you are more focused on the bigger ones.

  • I had the opportunity to assist on a waiver liability matter that went before the Court of Appeal. Not only did I assist with the materials, but I was able to attend the hearing and listen to several of the top litigators in Toronto argue their positions;
  • I attended a videoconferencing discovery with a plaintiff who was located in a European Country.  The dynamic of this experience was interesting because the plaintiff was not in the same room while being questioned; and
  • I attended a settlement conference on my own and made submissions to a deputy judge.

Danielle  Advice:
Accept every opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask questions – seemingly small assignments can become a file to handle on your own and questions can save a lot of time. Often when you accept one task you get to follow up on the lifespan of the file and learn the various steps a file will go through, the important considerations at each stage, and the tactics that will help achieve settlement – so no matter what comes your way, big or small, accept it graciously and view each task as a learning opportunity.

  • Arguing an opposed motion;
  • Attending a pre-trial conference where settlement was reached; and
  • Drafting a complicated mediation memo that addressed nuanced law and required in-depth research and analysis.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

The Transition from Articling Student to Lawyer

Throughout my articles, I have experienced the ebb and flow of the litigation process. Some weeks, the workload can be quite intense, and other weeks are more manageable. Nevertheless, this experience has increased my competency with respect to working independently while maintaining high work quality.

I have started to feel less like a student & more like a
bona fide lawyer. 
This transition, however,
is not without its hiccups.

This expanding independence demands a greater degree of responsibility, especially in litigation, to ensure all tasks are completed on schedule and within the time allocated by the supervising lawyer. In the past few months, the work I have been assigned has been more encompassing of the whole litigation process and has forced me to develop good habits in order to stay on track.

Through this pedagogical process, I have developed some wisdom that I would like to share.

Effective Communication between the student and supervising lawyer is imperative. If you are in doubt with respect to instructions, a quick email is best in order to avoid time and delay. If further information is needed, let the supervising lawyer know in order to avoid “wild goose chases”. It is also good practice to verify with the supervising lawyer the scope of the task and next steps if needed.

Availability - In case a file assigned to you needs urgent consideration, it is best to check your work email even during your downtime. It is rare but, in fact, has happened a few times throughout my articles and, therefore, I was able to assist the lawyer in time.

Stay Ahead of the Deadlines - It is good practice to finish drafting a document early in order to have time to review it before passing it to the supervising lawyer, submitting it to the court or other counsel. It is easy to miss typos.

Utilize Your Strengths - Are you a morning person? Or do you have more energy in the afternoon? In my experience, it is prudent to schedule your tasks when you are most effective at doing them. This will ensure that you finish on time and efficiently.

Keep Track of File Progress - Articling students and lawyers have a lot of responsibility with respect to their files. It is, thus, a good idea to periodically check your active files and make sure that everything is moving along at a good pace.

These strategies have allowed me to better understand and adapt to being a lawyer. McCague Borlack LLP has provided me with a great deal of training for this transition. Accordingly, this allowed me to understand the scope of increasingly complex tasks that I have been assigned and has encouraged further professional development for myself with respect to the practice of law.
by Alexander S.

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Benchmarking at the halfway point...

I am a big fan of “review points”. While it is always good practice to look forward, it is equally important to learn from our past experiences in order to grow and improve. What better time to benchmark than at the halfway point of our articles?

In our first week of orientation back in August, there was a definite sense of nervous excitement. What would our day-to-day schedule look like? What kind of work would we be trusted with? What feedback would we receive? One lawyer imparted this advice to us “take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, and make as many mistakes as possible!” Well, I may be extrapolating on that last part, but undoubtedly our mistakes helped us to learn as much as our successes in these last five months.

With that in mind, here are some tips on what is often
overlooked in the “smaller details” category and if given
proper attention can go a long way to ensuring success...

Never Under-Estimate Professionalism

This tip is applicable to both clients and opposing counsel that we deal with on a daily basis and, equally important, with the lawyers and staff at the firm. The work that you receive comes from lawyers at the firm, and while much of the work does come from “The List”, creating working relationships with lawyers and staff ensures that you become their “go-to” when they have a quick assignment and know they can rely on you to get it done. It is good practice to treat every meeting, both internal and external, as a professional obligation that you must be on time for. Following this small tip can help you foster better relationships with your co-workers and in turn help build a positive reputation.

Pay Attention to Detail

This is a lesson I learned personally after drafting a discovery report to the client that did not include page numbers. I was told, in no uncertain terms, I should not draft any document that does not include page numbers. Although it may seem like a small detail, if any document you draft makes it into a trial brief that will be relied upon by the court, the ease of reference that page numbers provide may help both the jury and judge understand exactly what sentence on what page you are referring to, increasing, even slightly, your likelihood of success. Don’t believe me? I personally saw this in action at a discovery I recently attended. It would have saved all parties a lot of time (and client money) if pages had been numbered in the documents that were included in opposing counsel’s Affidavit of Documents. Instead, a lot of time was spent flipping through 60 pages of documents to determine what report opposing counsel was referring to. Never forget page numbers.

On a similar note, it is imperative to review every correspondence and court document alike to ensure that the font type and size are the same, the spacing is consistent, and spelling mistakes are non-existent. It is hard enough to formulate a legal argument without holes that opposing counsel can take advantage of, we do not need to give them any other reason to challenge our credibility or competence.

Photo by Sasint   http://www.pixartasia.comProper Service is Everything

On every motion I have appeared on or observed if the parties and non-parties were properly served, the motion was granted. While this may not always be the easiest, it sure makes shorter motions run more smoothly In contrast, when parties have been served by mail or courier, both I and my colleagues have witnessed motions adjourned and/or dismissed due to improper service.

Learning how to count the days needed to serve documents, such as a Notice of Motion or Confirmation of Motion, has also been a frequent subject of discussion amongst our articling group. Is it 10 days? Is it 7? If it is more than 7 but less than 14, do holidays and weekends count? The best people to ask these questions are often the assistants – they have lots of practice in ensuring that their lawyer does not miss deadlines and will quickly tell you if your calculations may cost you your motion.

There has definitely been a steep learning curve over the last five months, but our mistakes and questions have helped us to learn. Hopefully, our mistakes will help us to impart some “wisdom” onto the next generation of articling students (who will undoubtedly learn them all over again)!

by Danielle R.

Monday 15 January 2018

Holiday Cheer: Work Hard, Play Hard

Throughout my articling experience, I’ve learned how adversarial litigation can truly be.  Often times you are faced with dealing with difficult people and situations. Working with people really is an art; it is a lot more difficult than one may think. Circumstances arise where you have to determine the appropriate way to handle opposing counsel, whether in court or trying to contact them to discuss something as simple as providing their undertakings (which should have been done weeks ago). The stress involved when working in an adversarial and competitive environment is not to be underestimated. As famously quoted in the movie Mean Girls:

"I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school...
I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles
and everyone would eat and be happy..."

And guess what? That is exactly what we did! During the holidays, the students had a break from the adversarial environment that goes hand in hand with the practice of law. Instead, we brought the competition in-house by competing in a cookie decorating contest. I won’t lie, some lawyers joined in as well!

The articling students were given one hour to decorate two Christmas cookies each. The firm members were then sent pictures of each cookie and asked to vote on which one was their favourite. After the votes were tallied, the winner was revealed in a firm-wide email. I won’t say who won because the contest was not about winning but rather about having fun. However, what I will say is… I won. And if that isn’t true, well how would you know? This is my blog.

All jokes aside, getting the opportunity to have some in-office fun in the midst of our busy work schedules is a great reminder that if you work hard, you should play hard too.

Although the holidays have passed, I’d like to share with you the cookies my talented colleagues and I decorated (if you are wondering, I am the one who could not wait to take the picture before eating one of my cookies).
by Melissa P.