Tuesday 25 June 2019

Weird Projects, Field Trips & RAAAPTORS!

After orientation, an email that came through for me on the file assignment list was ambiguously phrased,  “Who in Toronto wants to take on a weird project?” A thrill of both anticipation and slight apprehension ran through me. This sounded like a challenge, which only made me more excited as I collected my pen and notebook to discuss the file with the assigning partner. We chatted about the matter, which turned out to be a research assignment pertaining to an overseas John Doe who had fraudulently stolen a client’s funds through online hacking.

I was asked to determine the best way to move forward in order to recover our client’s losses and was given wide latitude in ascertaining what that might be.

This freely given trust and responsibility were exactly why I had admired MB’s student program. Excited, I sped back to my desk. Time to research!

Week 2: Spontaneous Field Trips

My first field trip was a contested motion in Superior Court, where I watched the negotiation process unfold between two lawyers outside the courtroom in a bid to save their client's costs by settling the matter early. In law school, we learn more theoretical and black letter law concepts, and therefore it was interesting to see how the law operates on an everyday, practical basis. Before this, I didn’t realize how much of a legal outcome relies on pragmatic and measured negotiation prior to actually speaking in front of a judge.

Then later an email came in off the list requesting that a student partakes in an examination for discovery. So I spent the next two days observing a multi-faceted examination where various parties were questioned by many different sets of counsel. I was responsible for transcribing all of the evidence and returned to the office with a deepened understanding of effective examination strategies. I also got to prepare undertakings charts based on my notes for all the parties who were examined! In-depth involvement in files such as this allows you to feel like, even as a summer student, you are doing practical and valuable work on a file.

Summer Students 2019: Jennifer and Chelsea 
Week 3: Accomplishments

On Monday, the whole firm celebrated the recent Raptor’s NBA Championship win! We had been told the week before to wear our favourite Raptor’s regalia to work, and a firm-wide email was sent out encouraging everyone to go see the parade. There was also a viewing party complete with pizza in one of our boardrooms, and everyone at the firm came together to enjoy the wave of excitement that was sweeping Canada.

The energy in the city carried me through the rest of the day, and I speedily started preparing motion materials for my previous John Doe assignment. The assigning Partner had wholeheartedly agreed with my recommendations for further action and told me to prepare a novel motion that our firm had never fully brought before. Again, the same familiar frisson of excitement tinged with a sliver of self-doubt; Can I do this? Did I really get my research right earlier?

The answers to the above questions are yes! I have just submitted my draft motion materials, and am looking forward to moving the file along further and keeping up with its future developments. Being involved with strategic decisions and taking charge of the next steps for the forward movement of a file is a heady feeling for a student who has just finished her second year of law school. I am excited for more opportunities to expand my capabilities in the future with MB!

by Chelsea D.

Thursday 6 June 2019

What to expect during orientation week

I was both excited and extremely nervous to begin my first day of work at McCague Borlack.

The night before, the usual first day of school jitters began to start:

"I hope the other students are nice! Should I pack a lunch?
Is it okay if I wear the same outfit as I wore at my interview?"

On Monday morning at 9 a.m., all the students were greeted by our student director, Ashley. Thanks to her smiling face and approachable manner, our nerves began to slowly fade away. At McCague Borlack, the students receive a full week of comprehensive training. Each day consisted of seminars on legal topics and learning skills that would teach us “how to McCague” such as docketing and binding court materials.


On Monday, we all sat in the boardroom which would become our home for the week. Ashley took time to introduce the summer program and outlined what we could expect for the summer. At lunch, we went on a food court tour of the Toronto building with the Articling students (I guess I didn’t need to pack a lunch after all!). The day ended with learning some legal office skills and a firm tour.


Having had our first day under our belt, on Tuesday morning we all came in a little more relaxed. The morning was spent learning how to docket. This was a task that seemed a little overwhelming at first but turned out to be a very user-friendly system. We also had our first legal seminars covering topics such as subrogation, and how to run a small claims court file. We were lucky to have partners come and give us tips and tricks for dealing with files of this nature.

Wednesday morning was picture day! Having spent Tuesday evening practising their best Zoolander poses, all the students came in looking glamorous and ready for their pictures. In the afternoon we had a representative from Westlaw visit. She taught us tips and tricks for making the most of Westlaw resources. I learned a lot, I had no idea that you could highlight and save information straight into a PDF from Westlaw!

Thursday morning we received a tour of the Great Library at Osgoode Hall. The library facilitates legal research to lawyers, by providing an extensive collection of books and online resources. The library itself is beautiful, walking around we felt as though we might actually be at Hogwarts. Not only does the building have an amazing legal history, but the building is also an active courthouse. It was very exciting to see seasoned lawyers roaming the halls in their robes, hopefully foreshadowing our future as litigators.

Friday - Our last day of training had finally arrived! We had received so much information over the week and yet felt that we still had so much more to learn. We had a visit from Howard Borlack, who officially welcomed us to the firm. He told us stories of his journey from law student to named partner, highlighting that the learning doesn’t stop once you leave the law school classrooms. He also encouraged us from now on to think of McCague Borlack as our firm and to take pride that this is the first step of our legal career.

Orientation week was a great way to settle into the firm. We all cannot wait to get our first assignment once the list starts moving on Monday.

by Olivia