Thursday, 28 February 2019

Why Litigation Boutique?

Last November, I had the opportunity to participate in the OCI recruitment process for the second time, and from the other side of the table. In just 3 short, but also very long days, I shared my articling experience with, what felt like 100, candidates. By the end, I realized (a) I can talk someone’s ears off, and (b) many people were surprised to hear how exciting and diverse our litigation practice and specifically, our insurance defence work could be. Our firm can provide any aspiring litigator with excellent hands-on experience—and very early on in their career.

Litigation Experience

"Every file we work on teaches us about some aspect of the litigation process." 

As a Summer Student, I learned about the nuts and bolts of this process by assisting with examinations for discovery, motion materials, research, and mediations. As an Articling Student, I gained more insight into the life of a claim from the beginning; by participating in client intake, drafting pleadings, preparing for discoveries, mediations, pre-trials, and even trial. This gave me the “big picture” perspective of what it is we do. As I gain more experience with the process, I feel more comfortable with the idea of working as a litigation lawyer after articling ends.

While it’s not always realistic to see a single file from beginning to end during an articling term, small claims files can and do provide that opportunity and at MB, Articling Students have carriage of small claims files. These files provide a great learning opportunity for drafting, settlement discussions, and if it comes to it, trial. We are also learning to be the main contact for our clients by briefing them on the status of the case, and if necessary, preparing them for trial.

Diverse Work

Many just think of motor vehicle accidents and slip and fall injuries when they think of insurance defence, but insurance defence work can actually be incredibly diverse. In addition to commercial litigation, I’ve already had a chance to work in the following areas of law, all surprisingly under the heading of insurance defence:

• Employment law (employee & management-side) 
• Criminal law
• Coverage
• Professional Negligence
• Administrative law
• Human rights law
• Cannabis law
• Contract law
• Product Liability
• Environmental law
• Property loss
• Privacy law

While having diverse work makes for an interesting articling experience, it also tests your knowledge of litigation procedure and helps you develop the skills you need to be an effective litigator. For example, property loss assignments have taught me the invaluable skill of quantifying and proving damages—which is necessary for productive settlement discussions for any claim. Criminal law taught me to think on my feet and feel comfortable in a courtroom—because court appearances are frequent. Employment law taught me to anticipate and negotiate risk.

Additionally, our plaintiff and subrogation practices expose us to other skills that are necessary to be an effective advocate. This can be in the areas of product liability, construction, cyber and privacy, shareholder disputes, and estate litigation, to name a few.

Opportunities for Growth

The legalization of recreational cannabis is currently a hot topic in many industries, including insurance, and we’ve been receiving a lot of work in this area. As a result, I’ve assisted on property loss, risk management, and employment assignments all related to this topic. I don’t know what the next big thing will be or what the future holds, but I am excited to find out.

by Karolina I.