Thursday 29 June 2023

Toronto: A City of Commuters

Picture taken by Liza

My family, like many others, made the decision to move out of Toronto and to the last stop on the Lakeshore East GO Train line: Oshawa. Four years later, I return to Toronto as a commuting summer student. Here is what I have learned, and if you are a prospective student thinking about commuting to the city every day for work, this is what you can expect a typical day to look like!

I wake up at 6AM daily, but I arrive at my desk at MB just before 9AM. So, what do I do in those three hours between getting up and starting work? I am WORKING. 

"A travelling student is a student who never stops learning." 

This is my typical schedule:

Picture taken by Liza

6:00 AM:
Feed the cat. Complete my mandatory playtime shift (otherwise my furry boss may get cranky).

6:20 AM: Brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, and make lunch.

7:00 AM: Out the door! On my drive, I like to listen to my favourite podcasts (my favourite one at the moment is a podcast about abandoned/ extinct amusement parks and why they closed down).

7:25 AM: Arrive at the GO Station and find parking in time to catch the 7:30 train. I have quickly learned that trains are the emptiest on Mondays and Fridays. I leave my house early the rest of the week because it can get PACKED on that train, and the further I have to park, the more likely I will miss my train! On the train, I will check and respond to my personal emails, solidify my after-work plans, then watch a documentary that will wake me up for the day. I am registered to take the MPRE in August, so I will also listen to MPRE lessons or do practice quizzes.

8:30 AM: Arrive at Union. I am finding my way around the never-ending station and can confidently find the exits closest to MB.

Picture taken by Liza

8:45 AM:
Arrive at MB. Walking provides an opportunity to check out the PATH on my way to work, which means I can pinpoint exactly where I want to go for my break (one day, I may even know how to fully navigate the infamous PATH)!

5:00 – 6:00 PM: Wrap up work for the day. The time I finish usually varies, and I do my best to finish 15 minutes ahead of the next scheduled GO Train.

6:00 PM: A couple times a week, I will walk to a nearby yoga studio. It really takes your mind off the impending crowded GO Train I will have to catch home.

7:25 PM: Catch the GO Train home. I will watch movies or TV shows on the train, I have found many new favourites this way.

8:25 PM: Drive home while listening to music or chatting with a friend on the phone.

9:30 PM: Go to bed to do it all over again tomorrow!

As you can see, the commute is strenuous and takes up a big chunk of my day. However, I get a LOT done on my commute, and it has taught me how to practically manage my time and how to effectively adapt to my surroundings so that they will never be a barrier to what I want to get done! If I am late for yoga or the train, they will go on without me. This kind of pressure has allowed me to find the self-discipline I need to meet the timelines I have set for myself in both my professional and personal life. So, if you are thinking of commuting, do it. You may be surprised at what you learn about yourself!

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Whose side are you on, anyway? – Getting exposure to Plaintiff and Defence work

Images combined from Pexel.

It’s been just over three weeks since our summer student experience at MB began, and I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed every minute! Ashley told us during orientation that the work was going to fully immerse us in the civil litigation process, and that couldn’t be more accurate. In the first few weeks of the summer, I’ve had a wide range of assignments, including drafting a statement of defence, a mediation brief, and preparing a damages brief. While taking on so much responsibility this early has been daunting, it’s been a great learning experience, and I’m already starting to feel more confident.

"I was introduced to a type of claim that was entirely new to me: subrogation." 

Subrogation is a process that allows an insurer to recover the money it has paid to its insured by initiating a legal action in the name of the insured against a third party who is responsible for the loss. Subrogation claims can span several areas, including flood or fire damage and faulty/improper construction, to name a few. One of the exciting aspects of subrogation claims is that the firm gets to represent the plaintiff. This means that in addition to the vast array of defence work, as students, we also get to see first-hand what it’s like to advance and manage a claim on behalf of the plaintiff. Not only does this keep the work fresh and exciting, but it will be extremely valuable in developing us into well-rounded litigators.

I’m incredibly excited to see what the rest of the summer has in store!

Thursday 15 June 2023

Avoid tipping the scales of justice

Everyone warned me about maintaining a good work-life balance when entering a career in law. How easy it can be to get so caught up that you dive in and don’t realize when you have lost that balance. I am lucky to work at a firm that wants its students and lawyers to have a life outside of work. But admittedly, I can see myself falling into the trap of loving work so much that it becomes my hobby.

So, with my whopping two weeks of summer student experience, I'm here to tell all you readers the one way I found to make sure I didn’t get lost in my work.

“I use my colleague’s interests as a way to get out and try new things.”

In my case, the opportunity rolled through my inbox in early January. One of the firm associates started a McCague Borlack team for the Baycrest Ride for Brain Health. At the time, I had accepted a summer student position and only knew one other person at the firm, a fellow student. The idea of meeting a bunch of my future colleagues (and superiors) was a bit daunting. However, my comfort spaces were always in a gym or volunteering so how bad could a charity bike ride go?

The plot thickened when deciding on the course route (25, 50, or 75km). I decided to throw myself in and signed up for the 75K. Because how, as a former high-level athlete, could I sign up for the shortest distance? (Editor’s note: Angela was a Pro Basketball player in Denmark!) I wasn’t sure if I was shooting myself in the foot, but my family tends to live by the saying ‘go big or stay home’.

This new goal added a ton of fun training on my own throughout the remainder of the school semester and before I knew it, I was starting at the firm. I still hadn’t met anyone I would be riding with but every night after work, I would hop on my bike to train. I looked forward to the upcoming event itself and meeting everyone, but my daily training was still fun and exciting. I was motivated to do well at the event, and the training didn’t involve factum writing or drafting documents (not that I don’t love those as well).

On the day of the event, I got on my bike with my water bottle and emergency granola bar and got cycling! I had a ton of fun getting to bike on the DVP (closed for riders only!) and was contributing to a great cause, and at the end getting to meet a few more colleagues! 

 Overall, it was a 10 out of 10 experience! (Editor’s Note: Angela finished in just under 3 hours!) And to get back to the point of this whole piece, I learned about an awesome experience through the firm that made sure I didn’t get too absorbed in my work. While I am not in a position to give advice, seeing as I am as fresh as it gets to working in a law firm, I can say with confidence that one way I will remain a well-rounded individual will be to stay open to opportunities, career or otherwise, that fall in my lap along the way.

by Angela R.