“During my summer at the firm, I had the opportunity to work on a private-placement financing deal with a local technology start-up. It was interesting to learn about a new industry while working on the file. The partner included me in interactions with the client throughout the entire process – from the beginning all the way to a successful closing.”
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Meghan BridgesAssociate (2014/15 Articling Student)
While I was an articling student, I was intensively involved in two litigation files. The first file was a College discipline matter with four weeks of hearing dates scheduled while I was a student. My first tasks on this file were to draft research memos on discrete points of law and compile spreadsheets analyzing and comparing the many medical records involved in the case. As I demonstrated my knowledge of the file and my hard work to the partner, I was given increasingly more difficult tasks and more responsibility. I was ultimately responsible for writing all of the facta we prepared in anticipation of certain evidence issues arising at the hearing. Many of those issues actually did arise, and I got to watch the partner argue our position to the panel using my work. Throughout the year I was also invited to client meetings with the doctor and other key witnesses, and actively participated in them. These experiences helped me to build a rapport with the doctor and made me feel like an integral member of the team.
Due to a combination of unforeseen circumstances, and some interesting evidentiary issues, the final hearing dates for this file that were scheduled for my articling year were adjourned to November and December of the following year. When I returned to the Firm as an associate, I came right back on the file and continued my involvement as though I had never left. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to assist with a hearing so soon after returning to the firm as an associate, and am delighted that I have a strong foundation from articling upon which to build.
The second file I was deeply involved with as an articling student was a summary judgment for a twelve-year-old case. The legal issue was highly complex, and the research I did required me to think and write from first principles, much like in a first year torts class. This file involved numerous expert reports and a voluminous record of medical literature, which I was responsible for managing. I had never dealt with either before; jumping into such a literature-heavy file forced me to do a lot of learning very quickly. I always had support from the associate and the partner on the file, though, and knew I could go to them with any questions I had.
On both files, the partners and associates treated me like a truly valuable member of the team. Even when the hours were long and deadlines loomed, I felt a special camaraderie between me and the lawyers. But what I perhaps valued most was the willingness of all the lawyers with whom I worked to give me stretch opportunities and provide me with substantive feedback. These opportunities helped me become a better student, and I am certain they will continue to help me grow as a lawyer.
Jean-Philippe MathieuAssociate Articling Student 2014
I can say without hesitation that our litigation assignments are always extremely diverse. In fact, during my summers at the firm, I had the chance to touch virtually all major areas of law: civil procedure and evidence, human rights and freedoms, criminal law, administrative law, contract law, liability, labour law, property law, native rights, real estate law, medical law, disciplinary law, access to information, class actions, etc. For example, I learned more about the legislation governing firearms and medically-assisted reproduction; I accompanied lawyers during examinations; I worked with another lawyer to draft an article on the Québec Collège des médecins (College of Physicians) destined for widespread publication. Moreover, a student who has completed an assignment will occasionally be invited to go to court with the lawyer. This opportunity allows students to perceive the direct impact their work can have on advancing cases and to see first-hand the extent to which the firm's lawyers rely on students and welcome their involvement in various files.
Through my various assignments, I noticed that members of our Litigation Group were a real team and constantly helped each other, whether they be partners, associates, assistants, library technicians and legal researchers.
At McCarthy Tétrault, litigators work on complex cases, which frequently create precedents and are often highly publicized. I do not remember having worked on any case where I had not already heard of the parties involved. Indeed, our clients in the Litigation Group are generally companies with a sought-after place in Québec or Canadian society.
Through my various assignments, I noticed that members of our Litigation Group were a real team and constantly helped each other, whether they be partners, associates, assistants, library technicians and legal researchers. Teamwork is indeed a core value at McCarthy Tétrault! For example, I recently wrote a memo on the relationship between co-debtors. It was a commercial litigation file, but had bankruptcy law implications. Knowing very little about bankruptcy law, I went directly to one of our bankruptcy lawyers and even though he was not working on my case, he took the time to answer all my questions, which in turn saved me many hours of research (and unnecessary costs to our client).
I was exposed to a number of different aspects of litigation work in my first few weeks as a summer student with the firm. The first tasks that were assigned to me involved legal research in a variety of areas, including director’s liability, limitation periods, pre-trial disclosure obligations, and the scope of liability exclusion clauses.
I also attended an examination for discovery, which gave me the chance to see how lawyers seek to elicit evidence from witnesses thats useful to their case.
The firm’s library resources, especially the librarians, were extremely helpful to me as I sought to find answers to the various questions that were posed to me.
As the files progressed I was given the opportunity to prepare documents for filing in court and correspondence, such as a notice to prove a builder’s lien and demand letters. I also attended an examination for discovery, which gave me the chance to see how lawyers seek to elicit evidence from witnesses that is useful to their case. Finally, I had the opportunity, along with the other summer students, to take a tour of the Calgary Courts Centre.View full profile