What you donâ€™t learn in law school PLUS FASHION EXCLUSIVE: How to look like a lawyer
Everything youâ€™ve ever wanted to know about
Fall 2016 PrecedentJD.com inside 5 networking secrets revealed Meet a lawyer who landed a job in human rights Working in Yellowknife: Are you cut out for it?
(but were afraid to ask)
Start right. Were you the neighbourhood lemonade stand mogul? The President (and proud lone member) of the eighth grade Pre-Law Society? You might just be ready for Osler. We’re creative, collaborative thinkers — who are proud to work on the most groundbreaking law in Canada. You’re passionate about becoming a great lawyer. We’re passionate about giving you the best start to your legal career — with innovative work and access to the best people. There’s no better place than Osler. Your time is now. Visit oslerstudent.com
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How to look like a lawyer Before you hit the mall, find out how four fashionable lawyers have built their rocksolid work wardrobes by Lisa Coxon
PHOTO BY VICKY LAM
Everything you want to know about Bay Street We got associates at some of Bay Streetâ€™s top firms to pull back the curtain on big-firm life. From the long hours to high stress, all is revealed by Daniel Fish
6 PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
8 EDITOR’S NOTE
Why one law student couldn’t remember his favourite food
You’d be hard-pressed to find an M&A lawyer who hasn’t worked through the night. Cornell Wright, p.18
9 OUR PEOPLE
Our contributors tell us their strangest job-interview moments
REQUIRED READING 11 CAREER
Insiya Essajee may be quiet, but as a human-rights lawyer she’s making a lot of noise
When will it stop? Bay Street slashes more articling jobs
How to network like a pro, even when it’s awkward as hell
Any Canadian law grad can take the Law Practice Program instead of articling in Ontario. But is it any good?
18 LAW EXPLAINED
A high-profile M&A lawyer tells us, in plain language, what on earth he does
EXTRA CREDIT 31 EXPLORE
It’s pretty rare for young lawyers to move to Yellowknife. But when they do, they never leave
33 POP CULTURE
Are any of the most popular legal TV shows realistic? Three lawyers weigh in
How to make a cheap, delicious sandwich in five minutes
37 HOUSE CALL
Upgrade the art in your apartment without breaking the bank
A former Supreme Court judge sees a problem with most of the advice lawyers offer law students: it’s useless
8 PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
PrecedentJD Fall 2016
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ICE CREAM. If you asked me to name my favourite food, that would be my reply.
(Specifically, Ed’s Real Scoop, served right up the street from my house in Toronto.) I wouldn’t hesitate. But for one law student, coming up with an answer to that question was nearly impossible. Allow me to explain. A few months back, I interviewed a law student for a summer job at Precedent, and I asked her what students want to read about. She suggested stories that would help them handle the stress of law school and the pressure to land a great job. It can be all-consuming. In fact, she said, the stress once got so bad that when she asked a friend of hers to name his favourite food, he simply could not remember. All he could think about was school. For anyone who can relate to that experience, this edition of PrecedentJD magazine is for you. We can’t make law school a cakewalk or make sure you ace that brutal contracts final. But we will arm you with everything you need to launch your career in the right direction, from navigating cocktail parties to nailing your interviews. And we’ll help you find not just a job, but the job that’s right for you. In this issue, you’ll be inspired by the career path that Insiya Essajee took to become an awe-inspiring human-rights lawyer (p.11). We also have some pretty useful intel on what it’s actually like to work at a big Bay Street law firm in Toronto (p.27) and how to dress the part (p.21). If you’re a bit adventurous, we have a few good reasons to consider Yellowknife as your career destination (p.31). And if you’ve lost sight of your favourite food, our killer sandwich recipe might be just what you need (p.35). If you’re wondering about the student I interviewed, she’s a 2L at Osgoode Hall Law School named Alexandria Chun. And her favourite food is pizza. For. Sure. I know this because her savvy interview skills landed her the job at Precedent, where she spent the summer helping us prepare for the launch of our brand new student website: PrecedentJD.com. The new site will be packed with useful career advice, the latest news on the legal job market and fashion tips. It will also be the home of Precedent’s super-popular Hireback Watch. So make sure you’re the first to know when the site launches. Sign up to receive updates at PrecedentJD.com today. I wish you a great school year — the kind where you never lose sight of your favourite food.
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No matter the profession, job seekers are put through the same uneasy ritual: interviews. So we asked our contributors to share their most awkward job-interview moments
Making your case...
“I once interviewed for a job at a plastic-surgery magazine,” says Lisa Coxon, Precedent’s assistant editor. “At one point, it came up that I’m a feminist — and the interviewer pounced, asking if I’d be comfortable writing about breast implants. I’m not sure how I dug myself out of that hole. It’s still a blur.” Coxon wrote a ton of stories for this issue, including one on how Yellowknife has been winning over young lawyers for decades (“Called to the North,” p.31).
Jim Ryce is a Toronto-based photographer with a knack for capturing his subjects’ inner strength — a talent on full display in his portrait of human-rights lawyer Insiya Essajee (“The rights path,” p.11). His most awkward interview moment? “I once auditioned for a design studio,” he says. “But once they gave me the project details, they left, gave me the key and asked me to lock up on my way out. It was so strange. I got the job, though.”
“When I moved to Toronto, I applied to be a photography assistant,” says still-life photographer Vicky Lam. “I interviewed with the studio manager and he bluntly told me I had a slim chance of getting my foot in the door.” Though discouraged, she pressed on, freelancing for the Globe and Mail and Toronto Life, among others. (A couple years later, the studio hired her.) In this issue, Lam somehow turned the wardrobes of four lawyers into a work of art (“How to look like a lawyer,” p.21).
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REQUIRED READING THESE PEOPLE CHOOSE TO FIGHT FOR CHANGE. Insiya Essajee, counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission
The rights path
How Insiya Essajee landed one of the best human-rights jobs around by Daniel Fish photography by Jim Ryce
HER SPEAKING VOICE is nearly a
whisper. But don’t be fooled. In a mere four years as counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Insiya Essajee has earned a reputation as a bruising defender of human rights. Her biggest legal achievement to date: forbidding Ontario prisons from placing the mentally ill into solitary confinement, except as a last resort. And
the 31-year-old’s not done. There’s plenty of work left — like ending solitary confinement for all inmates. To any would-be social-justice warrior, Essajee’s track record and zeal make her a pretty perfect role model. So PrecedentJD sat down with the soft-spoken lawyer to learn about her career path, her work and what it’s like to handle heartbreaking cases. •
12 REQUIRED READING
PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
As a law student, how strategic were you in making choices that would help you build a career in social justice? I always knew I wanted a job that would contribute to my community. But if you want to do social-justice work, it’s hard. Students who want to work on Bay Street have the on-campus interview process, while students like me have no clear-cut path. Some clinics might have funding to hire a student one year, but not enough in the next. So I took courses in areas that interested me — like refugee law, children’s law and health law. And it worked out. Today, you’re counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission, a pretty coveted job. What do you do there? I’m involved in many aspects of the Commission’s work. One big thing we do at the Commission is watch what cases are filed with the human-rights tribunal. Then, when we see a major systemic discrimination issue at play, we intervene. But we can also start our own human-rights claims. And we sometimes throw the full weight of our resources behind our cases in order to push for some sort of systemic change.
You’ve done a lot of work on prison reform. Is that a good example of this process? It’s a great one. We saw a claim come in from a woman with a mental illness who had spent more than 210 days in segregation — also known as solitary confinement — in an Ottawa prison. So we intervened to address the use of segregation on people with mental illness, particularly women.
IT’S NOT EASY TO BE AT THE CENTRE OF A HUMANRIGHTS CASE.
And you intervened? That’s right. We reached a settlement and, starting this fall, all Ontario youth hockey players will have access to change rooms according to their gender identity.
And, in the end, you got the change you wanted. When we reached a settlement with the Ministry of Corrections, it agreed to only use segregation on prisoners with mental illness as a last resort. Now, it must look for alternatives, such as treatment.
One of the tragedies of your work, it seems, is that someone — a mentally ill prisoner or a trans teenager — has to be a sacrificial lamb, and go through the hell of litigation, in order to push for change. I wouldn’t use the phrase sacrificial lamb. These people choose to fight for change. Many even refuse to resolve their cases unless they see systemic changes, which is so inspiring. It takes so much courage. It’s not easy to be at the centre of a human-rights case.
Another big success for you involved a trans teenager playing youth hockey. Tell me about that case. Here’s the backstory. A trans teenager, who played amateur hockey, alleged that he was kept from using the boys’ change room. At the time, Hockey Canada’s policy separated dressing rooms by anatomical sex, not gender identity. He didn’t feel like a meaningful part of his team, so he filed a human-rights claim.
How emotional is the work? It can be really emotional. And it’s not always easy to leave work at the door. I was recently over at a friend’s house, relaxing, and we decided to watch Orange is the New Black. The episode touched on segregation in prisons and the challenges of being trans. And I started crying, at which point my friend said, “We are not watching this! This is supposed to be fun.” So it can be hard to let go. jD
Timeline of a young human-rights lawyer
Counsel, the Ontario Human Rights Commission — Year of call 2012
2008 Her first year of law school, at the University of Toronto, begins. 2009 In second year, she has a crisis
of confidence. “I thought I wanted a career in social justice, but I saw all these intelligent, thoughtful peers going the Bay Street route. I wondered if I should be doing the same.” So she went to a few interviews with 2003 Essajee starts her undergradu- corporate firms. “But I couldn’t muster ate degree in the arts and sciences any enthusiasm. This reaffirmed that program at the University of Toronto. I wanted to do public-interest work.”
2011 Essajee articles at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and gets hired back at the end. 2016 After four years as counsel at
the Commission, she’s had some big successes — a welcome surprise. “In law school, I heard a human-rights lawyer say, ‘If you want to work in human rights, accept that you may never see real change because it happens so slowly.’ To already see a few big changes is really meaningful.”
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
2000 As a high school student, in Oakville, Ont., Essajee volunteers at the long-term care unit in a local hospital. “Many of the patients had dementia,” she recalls. “Between meals, they’d just be wheeled into the hallway. There was little programming or stimulation. So I’d do things like take them to the park or play cribbage.”
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14 REQUIRED READING
PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
Want to work at one of the largest firms on Bay Street? It’s never been harder by Daniel Fish
IT’S EASY TO PINE for the days, Things past well before the economic crash of the past decade, when articling A firm-by-firm breakdown of Bay Street’s student job market reveals students and junior associates a clear trend: over the past seven years, the number of articling jobs has were a key tenet of the big-firm plummeted, but the probability of getting hired back has never been higher business model. “In those days, top firms were eager to expand their crop of students and young Hireback Firm Number Hireback Number of articling rate rate of articling lawyers,” says Jordan Furlong, a students in 2016 in 2010 students consultant at Law21 and a shrewd in 2010 in 2016 observer of the legal profession. “Firms could bill them out at hourly Blakes 34 32 90% 86% rates that were far lower than BLG 29 21 what partners charged, but high 68% 70% enough to cover overhead and McCarthys 29 20 67% 94% make a tidy profit.” Osler 29 16 100% 93% That formula is now obsolete. The main reason? Most corporate Davies 22 11 67% 90% clients flat out refuse to pay top dollar for students to perform Stikemans 21 17 68% 87% the rote work — due diligence on Torys 18 15 94% 100% corporate mergers, for instance — Gowling WLG previously Gowlings 18 16 80% 60% that used to make up the bread and butter of a student’s workload. Norton Rose previously Ogilvy Renault 17 20 69% 63% Instead, explains Furlong, corporaBennett Jones 17 16 tions expect firms to outsource 71% 93% that work to accounting firms or Cassels 17 17 63% 88% contract lawyers, who will work Faskens 16 12 81% 82% for less than what firms need to bill to turn a profit. “Lots of corporaGoodmans 14 13 75% 100% tions,” adds Furlong, “are also doing Dentons previously FMC 14 14 54% 69% more and more routine legal work in-house that never gets to law firms Department of Justice 14 4 100% 100% at all.” McMillan 13 11 67% 60% It’s no surprise, then, that the student job market on Bay Street Total 322 255 77% 82% continues to plummet. Since 2010, the number of articling positions at the 16 historically largest law that can help pay it off. Articling at “I may have one more upside,” offices in Toronto fell from 322 to these big firms offers some of the says Furlong. “For decades, students 255 — a 21-percent decline. “And best-in-class training. It has so much have put so much effort into I don’t think that this trend has working at the largest firms — for to offer students.” bottomed out,” explains Furlong. the money, and for the perceived But there is an upside. The biggest firms on Bay Street are hiring “So we aren’t going to go back to prestige and status that comes back a record percentage of their the way things were.” from working at them. But it’s not articling students as associates. That’s something to lament. “We healthy to discount other careers.” This spring, 82 percent of students He hopes that, as the highway to know students carry high levels of landed a first-year job. That number, Bay Street gets harder to merge debt after graduation,” says Lorne For more by contrast, has hovered around Sossin, the dean at Osgoode Hall onto, students think about where detailed hireback the mid-to-high-70s for the past Law School. “Working at the big they really want to work. “That numbers visit PrecedentJD.com seven years. firms comes with high remuneration would be a positive side effect.” jD
REQUIRED READING PRECEDENTJD.COM 15
Working the room
Networking at law-firm open houses is a confusing, cold-sweat-inducing nightmare. But if you do it right, you just might land your dream job by Atrisha Lewis
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
I KNOW nobody likes network-
ing events. They’re awkward and it’s hard to know what the point of it all is. Yet, law-firm open houses are full of partners and recruiters who might hire you. Here, I answer some common questions students have about lawyer schmoozing.
Why should I bother attending student events law firms put on? You’ll meet new people, learn about firm cultures and find out what lawyers do day-to-day. Use this intel to stand out in cover letters and interviews down the line.
Precedent.) Still feeling uncomfortable? Pair up with a friend and rub shoulders as a team. How many people should I talk to? Focus on making quality connections, not chatting with everyone for a few seconds. Will you remember the conversation later? If so, they probably will, too — congratulations, you’re on their radar.
Are firms evaluating me? That’s a big reason they throw open houses, so be respectful and engaged in conversations. If you RSVP to an event, attend. If something comes up, send an email to the event coordinator and apologize. Don’t risk having your non-attendance noticed when you apply for a job.
What if I don’t drink? Most events serve booze. If you’re not a drinker, it may feel awkward when everyone else has a vodka cranberry or glass of wine in hand. But you don’t have to drink. The solution: soda water with lime. This way, you’re holding something, which will make you look and feel like you fit in. And you avoid the oh-so-awkward “Can I get you a drink?” which is wellintentioned but, in this case, might have you explaining yourself a halfdozen times. jD
What do I talk about? Small talk is a learned art. Have a few go-to questions in your pocket. Why did you choose to work at your firm? Is this where you started your career? Then, get creative. What was your favourite case to litigate, or deal to close, and why? What legal publications do you read? (Bonus points to lawyers who say
Atrisha Lewis is an associate at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. She writes an advice column for Precedent. Find more online: precedentmagazine.com/trialanderror
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16 REQUIRED READING
PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
Rachel Braatz Job status: First-year associate at Warren Camacho LLP in Ottawa
Making the grade
Is the Law Practice Program any good? We asked two former students to dish on what works and what doesn’t by Daniel Fish
Online coursework For the first four months, students work through mock files in virtual four-person law firms, under two lawyer-mentors.
As students work though files, they video-conference with clients, played by actors. “The acting was phenomenal,” says Braatz. In fact, the emotional performance of the actor in her family-law file — a divorce involving infidelity and a sick child — is what convinced her to go into family law. Her sole complaint: one of her mentors gave sporadic feedback on assignments.
On-campus training During the first four months, students spend three weeks on campus. They run through simulated trials and attend seminars.
“When I heard we’d be going into a courtroom to simulate cross-examinations, I was skeptical,” she admits. “I thought, Oh, it’s just fake. But it didn’t feel fake.” Why? Again, the actors, who improvised effortlessly. Some would burst out in anger when asked personal questions. “It felt totally real, so we took it seriously.”
The on-campus days, full of seminars and court appearances, were exhausting — in a good way. “We’d start at 7 in the morning and work until about 7 at night,” she says. “But that’s real life.” Deterville especially loved the seminar on trial advocacy, put on by Torys LLP all-star Sheila Block. “She was just brilliant.”
Work-placement team A team at Ryerson helps each student (about 220 each year) find a fourmonth placement that takes place in the second half of the program.
Braatz found her own placement by contacting Warren Camacho, a familylaw firm in Ottawa. But she still lauds the workplacement team for tirelessly helping students craft cover letters and resumés. Better still, all 221 students got placements. Braatz’s placement was paid, but her pie-in-the-sky request is that all of them are in the future. (This past year, 27 percent were unpaid.)
Deterville found the work-placement team terrific. But she does have one quibble: it’s unfair that when students apply for a placement through the Ryerson job portal, and are offered the gig, they must accept it. “Here’s my compromise,” she says. “Give students 48 hours to see if they get another offer. If they don’t, then fine, make them take it.”
DOOMSDAY may not be upon us,
but the arid economy of the past decade has made it harder than ever for law students to do a pretty important thing: land an articling gig. Which is why, two years ago, the Law Society of Upper Canada launched the Law Practice Program (LPP). Any Canadian law-school grad can take the eight-month program — in English at Ryerson University or in French at the University of Ottawa — and get called to the bar. No articling required. But is the program up to snuff? To find out, we asked two lawyers who completed the LPP at Ryerson to grade the program. They happily uncapped their red markers, and we’ve tallied the results. jD
Nandi Deterville Job status: Looking for work in Toronto
“This was a fantastic crash course in Canadian law,” says Deterville, a U.K.-trained law student from St. Lucia. The program squeezed in primers on seven practice areas — from family to criminal to corporate — into four months. One of her mentors returned assignments regularly and on time, but, like Braatz, the other gave feedback less frequently.
The hot seat
By and large, students like the Law Practice Program. But they have some complaints. So we put them to Chris Bentley, executive director of the program, to see if any changes are in the works
Complaint: Of the 221 placements, 27 percent were unpaid — no one should work for free. Bentley’s response: “I agree. That's why we push employers to offer paid positions. And we’re doing better than the first year, when 30 percent were unpaid.” He adds: of those who took the first year of the LPP, about 75 percent had full-time legal jobs within six months of getting called to the bar.
Complaint: Some mentors skimp on feedback. Bentley’s response: “I’ve heard this,” he says. His solution: reduce the mentors’ workload — by, for instance, having students evaluate each other on minor assignments. Then, he hopes, mentors will have the time to give detailed feedback on the most complex work. He also wants to bring on more mentors to help out.
Complaint: When students land a placement through Ryerson’s job portal, they shouldn’t be forced to accept the position right away. Bentley’s response: “When candidates accept offers instantly, that makes it easier for us to start helping the next person,” he says, in the LPP’s defence. “But I think this is a fair comment, and we are looking at ways that we can relax the rule.”
18 REQUIRED READING
The art of the deal
With powerhouse clients and boatloads of money on the line, mergers and acquisitions are the lifeblood of corporate law. But what exactly do M&A lawyers do?
PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
“Document review can be boring,” admits Cornell Wright, an M&A lawyer at Torys LLP
by Lisa Coxon
YOU’VE SEEN THE HEADLINES: corporate jugger-
nauts buying and merging with, well, other corporate juggernauts. But behind each blockbuster deal, there is a team of mergers-and-acquisitions lawyers. And the best of them all might just be Cornell Wright, who helps run the M&A group at Torys LLP. He was a point man on both the $12.4-billion Loblaw-Shoppers Drug Mart acquisition and Scotiabank’s $3.1-billion purchase of ING Bank. Beyond the big-money headlines, though, this practice area can be pretty mysterious. So we turned to Wright to help us find out what the work is really like. When do corporations go to M&A lawyers? When they have a “big idea,” says Wright. “From time to time, companies want to accelerate their growth plan by doing something big.” And that often means they want to buy or merge with another company. “At the most extreme end, it’s transformational. The company might double in size by the end of it.”
Is due diligence a total snoozefest? “Document review can be boring,” concedes Wright. “But people don’t just read things without a purpose. You’re reading
it to understand something in particular.” And that, for some lawyers, is fun.
OUR JOB IS TO MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH TO GET TO A DEAL. YOU’LL CALL COLLEAGUES OFF THE SOCCER FIELD.
What sort of person would enjoy this work? “A creative, critical thinker,” says Wright. “Someone who’s analytical, flexible and can move between disciplines.” In fact, Wright’s favourite part of the job is how he never works solo. As issues arise, he’s constantly tapping the firm’s other practice groups, from employment to intellectual property. “A big part of a deal is getting the right kind of expertise.” How intense can it get? In the final stage of a deal, when clients are ready to sign on the dotted line, there’s no time to relax. “Our job is to move heaven and earth to get to a deal,” says Wright. “You’ll call colleagues off the soccer field. You’ll do whatever it takes. You’d be hard-pressed to find an M&A lawyer who hasn’t worked through the night many times. That’s something you have to be able to do.” jD
PHOTO BY DANIEL EHRENWORTH
So once a company decides to make a deal — by buying or merging — how do you help them through the process? To start, says Wright, by helping them determine how to execute the idea. “This stage requires thinking through what issues might arise.” It can get complicated. For example, before two companies in the same market merge, they might need a competition lawyer to analyze whether a merger will create any legal issues, such as a monopoly. “But all we do is provide advice,” says Wright. “The client makes the business decisions.” If, after the initial advice period, a deal gets the green light, the companies get their legal teams to start the most costly phase of a deal: due diligence. Wright describes this as “getting under the hood” of the other company. Battalions of junior M&A lawyers sift through hundreds (sometimes thousands) of electronic company documents: environmental reports, employment contracts, supplier contracts. It can take weeks. The goal, says Wright, is to learn everything under the sun about the other business and spot red flags. Some supplier contracts, for instance, don’t let companies merge without the consent of the supplier. If the lawyers spot such an issue, they need to flag it with the client before moving forward with the deal.
Like what youâ€™ve been reading here? Find more online. PrecedentJD.com Everything you need to kick-start your legal career
HOW LOOK LIKE LAWYER photography by Vicky Lam
styling by Dee Connolly
words by Lisa Coxon
There’s an easy way to calm your nerves when you become a newbie associate: make sure you look damn good. But in doing so, you still have to observe the conservative fashion code that dominates law firms across Canada. So we peeked into the closets of four stylish young lawyers and got their tips on how to look terrific without breaking any rules (Hint: grey and navy are in your future.)
22 PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
Second-year associate at Stewart McKelvey in Halifax What’s in his closet
Logo-free dress shirts Say goodbye to Mr. Hilfiger and Mr. Lauren. “If you’re wearing a dress shirt, make sure there’s no logo on the breast pocket,” says Eirikson. “It seems like a small thing, but no one really does that.” Eirikson owns about 15 shirts. Some are light blue, and others are lavender. But, he says, “A white shirt is still the old standby.” Patterned ties Wearing a bold tie is one of the few ways a man can jazz up his suit. “If you’re wearing a solidcoloured shirt — which you almost always should — wear a patterned tie,” says Eirikson. You can’t go wrong with stripes. Hair-styling pomade It’s Eirikson’s way of perfecting his hair: close-cropped on the sides, and longer hair on top. But the point is to look polished (no bed-head) and professional. Eirikson also gets a haircut every four to five weeks. • Bonus item A beard trimmer. “Beards are definitely acceptable,” says Eirikson, who sports a light scruff. But trim it a couple times a week to keep things tidy.
Non-iron shirts courtesy of Banana Republic; Dion neckwear courtesy of Sydney's.
Seventh-year associate at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer in Calgary What’s in her closet
Pantsuits, blazers and skirts — all black When Weldon started as a summer student, she bought a lot of black. No, she wasn’t heading to a funeral — she was wisely relying on the basics. Today, she also dons greys, navies, camels and maroons. But she cautions against wearing black with white. “It’s a safe choice that you can make. But you can err so far on the side of caution that you look like a caterer.” Understated jewellery Feel like spicing up those neutralcoloured outfits? It’s all in the jewellery. But stick to four pieces at the most. For example, Weldon might wear earrings, a bracelet and a necklace, or earrings and two bracelets. Final rule: nothing too showy. Muted-colour blazers It’s good to have some variety, says Weldon, who keeps her black, navy, grey and tweed blazer collection at the office. (She has 15 in total.) “It’s easier to come to work without a blazer under my coat,” she says. In fact, she keeps an extra of everything at work — whether it’s toiletries, shoes or tights. • Bonus item A notebook. To avoid the stress of picking out her clothes each morning, Weldon writes down the week’s outfits every Sunday night. Lightweight wool suiting courtesy of Banana Republic; Mackage bag courtesy of Sporting Life.
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Second-year associate at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto What’s in his closet
Dark suits As a rookie, you should focus on seamlessly fitting in, so mimic Whitford and buy a set of six grey and navy suits. “If you’re at a drafting session on an M&A transaction, you don’t want to be the only guy wearing a cream-coloured suit,” he says. “You don’t want to stand out in that room.” And he pleads: “Get your suit tailored.” High-end leather shoes “My three pairs of shoes are probably the most expensive things in my wardrobe,” says Whitford. So dig deep for at least two pairs (black and brown). “But remember that leather gets chewed up by cement, so keep them in the office.” Don’t be afraid to brighten things up. “If you want to wear really funky socks, then go ahead.” A leather briefcase Once you land that job, (spoiler alert) you’ll have to take work home. “You might be working on an IPO that’s not yet public,” he says. “You can’t just walk down the road with the materials hanging out.” The stylish answer: get your hands on a black or brown briefcase. • Bonus item A bottle of mouthwash. Keep it at the office for those extra-long days. Suiting and leather belt courtesy of Strellson; Allen Edmonds shoes and JMB leather bag courtesy of Sydney's.
Seventh-year associate at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP in Toronto What’s in her closet
Sheath dresses “The sheath dress is a great go-to outfit,” says Anand. “You don’t have to put a lot of thought into it because it’s all one piece.” She’s bought black, grey, fuchsia, red and “snot green” versions. And since they fall just below the knee, they’re perfect for a conservative lawfirm environment. Plenty of pantyhose Nylons aren’t just for winter. They’re your friend all year round. “I would never go to court without pantyhose,” says Anand, who wears them for any formal event. “And I keep extra pairs in the office because I always rip mine.” Comfortable shoes “I’m a bit of a shoe person,” admits Anand, who stores 15 pairs in her office, 12 of which are heels. But she regularly wears flats, too. “Heels aren’t a necessary part of every outfit.” And she doesn’t own any that are super-high, so it never looks like she’s forgotten how to walk. • Bonus item Deodorant-mark remover. After she gets dressed, Anand uses a tiny, portable sponge to erase any white residue that has rubbed off on her clothes.
Cream dress courtesy of Hugo Boss; black dress courtesy of Banana Republic; shoes courtesy of Specchio.
Who got hired back?
EXCLUSIVE ONLINE NETWORKING FOR LAWYERS
What a career on Bay Street is really like by Daniel Fish
28 PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
All over the country, law students thrill to what a career at a top Bay Street firm promises: cutting-edge legal work and good money. But cautionary rumours — of all-consuming hours, sky-high stress, glass ceilings — abound. So what’s the truth? We asked six top associates on Bay Street to address the gossip head-on
What are the hours? And please, be real.
“Let’s not sugarcoat it: the hours can be pretty rough,” says Anas Youssef, a sixth-year associate at Stikeman Elliott LLP. “On some days, at 6 o’clock, instead of leaving, I grab dinner and head back to the office for another six hours. But the pendulum can swing in the other direction. On slow days, partners have come into my office around noon and told me to go home.” Apart from those extremes, most of his workdays go from 9 to 6, with a day or two each week running a couple hours longer — a timetable in line with that of most Bay Street associates. On average, marathon days can total between one to three months of an associate’s year, during a trial, when a file explodes or at the tail end of a corporate transaction. “If a deal is closing,” says Max Muñoz, a fourth-year associate at Gowling WLG, “you may work 72 hours within a four-day window.”
her personal life into weekends. It may sound harsh, but this is predictability. “I have predictably decided not to do anything social on those four days.” And she’s happy. Over at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Jennifer Wasylyk has a different system. Every night, the sixth-year associate tries her best to be home to put her two-year-old daughter to bed. (She succeeds about four nights a week.) To do so, she’ll go offline and out-of-reach between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. “Afterwards, I often log back on to work,” says Wasylyk. “But my colleagues know that hour-and-a-half is my time. Other people leave at 5 p.m. to pick up their kids from daycare, so they’re offline for a couple hours earlier in the day. Everyone has to find a system that works for them and their family.”
Is it true that every Bay Street associate is super stressed?
Not every associate, of course, but this is one of the law’s foremost problems — at least, that’s what 94 percent of legal “Man, it’s tough,” says Muñoz. “The fact is, we’re at the mercy professionals said in a study the Canadian Bar Association of our clients.” So if clients have questions — or, say, get slapped published a few years back. But, on Bay Street, the root of stress isn’t the hours or the job’s tendency to gobble up personal time. with a lawsuit — they expect their lawyers to be on-call. This One of the main culprits is the faulty belief that face time makes it nearly impossible to foresee when a time-consuming matters, a notion that too many hard-charging associates glom crisis will hit. onto. “The people most susceptible to stress and burnout are But most Bay Streeters build predictability into that chaos. those who always compare themselves to others,” says Webster. Take Claire Webster, a third-year associate at Bennett Jones LLP. From Monday to Thursday, she rarely makes social plans, Such associates often stay late every night aiming to make a splash. But that strategy is flawed. Partners notice first-rate work, having learned that those are the days when a disaster is most she says, not which associates are languishing in their office likely to strike. “After a year at the firm, it became too much of a hassle to try to keep those plans,” she explains. So she packs until midnight.
So is it possible to have a predictable personal life?
Meet our dishy Bay Street insiders
Those who worry incessantly about how they stack up against their colleagues make another stress-triggering blunder: they take on too much work in the hope that they’ll stand out. This is a terrible idea. “The goal, day-to-day, isn’t even to be working at full capacity,” says Webster. “You should be about 70-percent busy, because when fires happen you’ll need that 30-percent buffer. If you don’t, you’ll be in real trouble.” Another driver of anxiety is the fact that rookie associates are, to be blunt, clueless. “We all want to succeed and prove that we’re good lawyers — but, at first, we know almost nothing,” says Caroline Samara, a third-year associate at McMillan LLP. “The first day as a lawyer is absolutely terrifying.” But it shouldn’t be. “No one expects you to know everything,” says Youssef. “You’re supposed to get confused and ask questions.” And both partners and colleagues want to help. “You will often feel thrown in the deep end,” says Brian Kolenda, a sixth-year associate at Lenczner Slaght LLP. “Here’s what I did: I reached out to associates a few years above me or a partner leading the file. People really do have an open-door policy.”
How bad are things for lawyers who aren’t, well, white men?
First, a bit of good news: the era of flagrant racism and sexism is over. “This happens very rarely or, when it does, firms have a zero-tolerance policy,” says Webster. “This has been a huge stride forward.” One problem, however, persists: unconscious bias. A popular term from social science, it describes how people tend to unknowingly favour and make connections with those who are
Claire Webster Third-year associate Bennett Jones LLP
Max Muñoz Fourth-year associate Gowling WLG
Jennifer Wasylyk Sixth-year associate Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
Anas Youssef Sixth-year associate Stikeman Elliott LLP
Caroline Samara Third-year associate McMillan LLP
Brian Kolenda Sixth-year associate Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP
like them. And since most private-practice partners are men (about 80 percent in Ontario) and white (close to 93 percent in the Greater Toronto Area), it’s far more difficult for women and racialized associates to befriend the firm’s top brass. This gives the firm’s junior white men a competitive edge, explains Webster. “When people are sitting around a table making decisions” — on, say, who to promote — “they’re more likely to stick up for someone they know personally.” Throughout Bay Street, firms are alive to this problem, but there’s no quick fix. “You can’t just tell people that in their spare time they need to hang out with people they don’t want to,” says Webster. “It’s a sticky issue.” The long-term solution? Talk about it, so that over time the culture shifts. “If you feel like you’re not getting the right opportunities because of your skin colour or your gender, bring this up to your mentor or department head,” says Muñoz, who’s Hispanic. “Firms care about this. Don’t keep it a secret.”
What if I get a job on Bay Street and I end up hating it?
“Hey, the world is your oyster,” says Muñoz. And it won’t be the first time someone started a career off on the wrong foot. “If you find yourself asking if it’s worth it, explore that feeling. If you’re being honest with yourself, you’ll know the answer.” To leave Bay Street is not to become a failure. “It shouldn’t feel shameful to find out you don’t want to work on Bay Street,” says Samara. “That should be empowering. You can now find something you want to do. Why would you spend any hours of the day doing something you don’t like?” jD
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EXTRA CREDIT I’VE HIRED LOTS OF LAWYERS WHO THOUGHT THEY WERE COMING UP FOR A SHORT TIME, BUT MAKE IT THEIR LIFE. Sheila MacPherson, of Lawson Lundell’s Yellowknife office
PHOTO: NWT TOURISM
Called to the North It’s small, snowy and freaking cold. But Yellowknife’s scenery and lifestyle have long been a magnet for young lawyers by Lisa Coxon
ALAN DENROCHE boarded a mid-
night flight. It was 1987, and the recent law grad of the University of Victoria was heading to Yellowknife to article for a sole practitioner who’d recently come to the university in search of a student. Denroche expected to return home after about three years and carry on with life in Victoria. After all, did he know much about Yellowknife? “Not a clue,” he
says. “I just thought, Well, nothing else is going to take me up here.” He worked on a few real estate and corporate files. Today, 29 years later, he’s doing pretty much the same work in the same place, now running his own three-lawyer firm, Denroche & Associates. This test-the-waters approach is common in the city, says Sheila MacPherson, a senior partner at the Yellowknife office of Lawson •
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Lundell LLP, a western firm with booming corporate and resource practices. “I’ve hired lots of lawyers who thought they were coming up for a short time, but make it their life.” So, what is it about this city, nestled along the shore of Great Yellowknife is the de facto legal Slave Lake, that makes them stay? headquarters of the For one thing, the relaxed lifestyle. North — a region more than three times Unlike in larger southern cities, the size of Ontario a 10-minute commute to work is par for the course. So is leaving the office in time for 5:30-p.m. daycare pickup. And, at the office, no two days are the same. “You could be in court doing a trial one day on one area of law, and then a mediation the next day in a totally different area,” says Sandra MacKenzie, an eighthyear associate at Lawson Lundell, who grew up in Oakville, Ont. In a city as small as Yellowknife (its population sits at 20,000) lawyers rarely practice in just one area — there’s simply not enough paying clients to sustain a hyper-specialist. Another professional perk: because Yellowknife is the de facto
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legal headquarters of the North, its lawyers get to travel. “We do a tremendous amount of work in Nunavut, and in small communities like Inuvik and Hay River,” explains MacPherson. That means regular flights across the tundra. It also means plenty of responsibility for lawyers at the outset of their careers. It’s a good thing, then, that the legal community is tight-knit — the city is home to only 165 lawyers and nine law firms. “Everybody knows each other,” says MacKenzie. “There’s a real sense of community. Most of the young lawyers in town play on a softball league.” But the biggest reason lawyers are seduced by Yellowknife? The natural beauty. “If you like the outdoors, it absolutely spoils you,” says Denroche, who, as a twentysomething, fell hard for the fishing and gorgeous hiking trails. “You can do those things right outside your door,” MacKenzie adds. While you’re at it, make sure to look up. “People come thousands of kilometres and spend thousands
of dollars to see the northern lights,” says Denroche. On a clear winter night, you can even see the light show from the city. “And the summer is amazing,” says MacKenzie. “It doesn’t get dark until close to midnight, so after work, you can kayak for hours.” Winter at the edge of the Arctic, though? Another story. Temperatures can reach –46°C without windchill, and in the depths of winter it’s light for only about four hours. If you’re still ready to buy a plane ticket, then take note: the bar is small, and the job market can be pretty competitive. So to land an interview, you’ll need to stand out. “I always like to see a reason why someone wants to be here,” says MacPherson, who is partly responsible for hiring at Lawson Lundell’s six-lawyer Yellowknife office. “I want lawyers who are academically strong, but who will also enjoy what the North has to offer. That way, I know they’ll be comfortable in the long term.” jD
EXTRA CREDIT PRECEDENTJD.COM 33
TV on trial
Lawyers on television never fail to entertain. But do the popular shows that feature them get anything right about real-life lawyering? by Lisa Coxon
It seems the masses can’t get enough lawyer-drama to satisfy their cravings. One glance at the most popular shows and it’s a miracle anything else gets made. But which ones appeal to real-life lawyers? We asked three TV-loving lawyers if the shows they’ve seen are as realistic as they are entertaining. jD
Reviewed by Mary Paterson Partner at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in Toronto
This outlandish show stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former lawyer and White House aide who spends her days protecting the images of the political elite. Though she’s left the law behind, she and lawyers have one thing in common: difficult clients. So it can be damn satisfying to watch Olivia lay into those who disregard her advice. “There are moments where she delivers a devastating soliloquy,” says Mary Paterson. “It burns bridges, but you always have these soliloquies running through your mind. To see someone deliver one is very cathartic.” Still, the show is nonsense. The subplot involves a secret, world-dominating organization, headed by Olivia’s father. “None of the background is believable.”
Reviewed by Kyla Lee Criminal lawyer at Acumen Law Corporation in Vancouver
In this legal dramedy, hotshot New York City lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) hires Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a college dropout who never went to law school, but has a photographic memory. The pair con the partners into thinking Mike is a Harvard graduate. The rest of the show is as far-fetched as its premise. Harvey jumps from M&A law one day to criminal law the next. “Lawyers don’t deal with everything,” says Kyla Lee. “We find our niche.” Lee, who specializes in defending people charged with impaired driving, was especially annoyed with Suits’s ridiculous treatment of a hit-and-run, in which Harvey and Mike march their client down to the police station and advise he turn himself in. “You don’t just feed your client to the wolves. I was actually yelling at my TV.”
Reviewed by Eric Gilman Crown counsel at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Toronto
This crime drama, which explores Baltimore’s drug scene and criminal justice system, is touted as the pinnacle of modern-era television. And, according to Eric Gilman, it deserves the reputation. “Drug kingpins are portrayed as villains and sympathetic characters,” he says. “As a criminal drug prosecutor, I see this every day. It’s hard to look at everything in black and white.” It also nails the complexity of a longterm police investigation — a massive achievement for a show so gripping. “It’s not just about the individual busts, but also about the investigation of larger drug rings or gang activity.” Entertainment: Reality:
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EXTRA CREDIT PRECEDENTJD.COM 35
You may be a cash-strapped law student, but you can do better than cold pizza every lunch. After five minutes in the grocery store, you can make this deliciously cheap sandwich by Sara Chan illustration by Jeannie Phan
You can also edit it down from a whole loaf to a single ciabatta bun for an individual serving, and eat it right away. It travels well to group picnics and parties. But the true genius of this sandwich comes from the overnight pressing, which allows all the flavours to meld and soak into the bread. And by doing so, you finally get to make use of your heaviest law textbooks — as weights. (Constitutional, I’m looking in your direction.) Note: you have to be okay with putting your Constitutional Law book in the fridge overnight, but I know you only use the summaries anyway.
Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches
Makes 3–4 sandwiches or 7–8 appetizer portions • •
• • • •
1 large loaf of ciabatta bread 300–400 g of your choice of Italian cold cuts (salami, mortadella, capicollo, prosciutto) 5 slices provolone cheese, or 2 fresh bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella balls, sliced Store-bought pesto Roasted red peppers Handful of arugula or baby spinach A large cutting board and a heavy weight (the Criminal Code or a cast-iron pan will do)
1. Slice the bread in half lengthwise. Spread pesto generously on both sides. 2. Layer the peppers, cold cuts, cheese and greens on the bottom half of the bread. 3. Top with the other half of the bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place a cutting board evenly on top, and put your weight on top of the board. Make sure there’s even pressure across the whole sandwich. TRUE STORY: I spent many lawschool lunch hours scavenging for leftover scraps from the “free lunch” at events on campus put on by law firms. Often, I was rewarded with a cold slice of bad pizza. Sometimes, I scored something fancy — like a chicken wrap. I know you do it, too. I see you over there, making off with your two egg salad sandwiches.
4. Eat immediately or allow it to press Given my astronomical tuition in the fridge for at least an hour. Ideally, fees (yes, even 10 years ago they leave it overnight. Cut into desired- were high), I feel zero remorse over sized pieces and serve. Wrapped tightly, my looting ways. In retrospect, Ciabatta bread sandwich portions will keep two to though, I could have done a little was first produced in 1982 by Arnaldo three days in the fridge. jD better for myself in the bring-mya miller from own-lunch department. But it’s not Cavallari, Adria, Italy. Cavallari too late for you. So, here: make this named the bread ciabatta because the Sara Chan is in-house counsel at Corus sandwich. It’s delicious and the flat shape reminded Entertainment. She writes a cooking ingredients for one sandwich won’t him of slippers column for Precedent. Find more online: (ciabatta in Italian) precedentmagazine.com/ediblewitness cost you more than $5.
Move from the classroom to the courtroom.
If you’ve set your sights on a career in litigation, you want to apply all that you’ve learned so far where it really counts – in court. At Lenczner Slaght, you’ll spend more time preparing and presenting cases, guided by highly respected lawyers who can help you develop and polish your advocacy skills. As Canada’s leading litigation practice, we don’t just offer you more firsthand courtroom experience – we insist on it.
EXTRA CREDIT PRECEDENTJD.COM 37
Does your apartment look like a barren dorm room? If so, here’s how to deck it out in gorgeous art on the cheap by Emma Gregg
Pineapple (Ebony) Price: $5 (8.5 � 11 sample) or $190 (30 ft. roll)
BEAUTIFUL ART doesn’t have to be expensive — if, that is, you’re
IMAGES: NOODLE #1 (BLUE) COURTESY OF KATHRYN MACNAUGHTON, THE FIRST PEONY COURTESY OF JASMINE DOWLING, PINEAPPLE (EBONY) COURTESY OF RIFLE PAPER CO.
creative. And as a student, you can’t exactly be throwing money away on pricey pieces. So, you don’t have much of a choice but to become a thrifty art buyer. To start on the right path, try these three inexpensive art hacks:
Buy from up-and-coming artists the one-percent don’t know yet If you’re going to conquer the world of inexpensive art, why not support local businesses and artists in the process? If you’re not a connoisseur, my unsung-artist pick of the week is Kathryn MacNaughton (or “KMAC”), a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist who’s worked on projects for Penguin and HBC, and was recently featured as one of Elle Canada’s “5 Canadian artists you need to know.” Here’s my pick of hers (middle right), a $40-dollar gem resting on the mantel in my living room.
for a hallway, you may want a series of three smaller ones, especially if you like an artist’s themed collection. Here’s one of my all-time favourites from Dowling (bottom right), which is perfect for the home or workspace.
Don’t underestimate the power of a wall decal Did you ever expect wallpaper to make a comeback? Me neither. But the truth is, a well-selected and expertly applied wall decal can brighten up any room, not to mention make a dramatic statement. It’s a big commitment, though, so start small. Buy cut-rate prints instead of Try self-adhesive, removable costly originals wallpaper from designers who sell Going for prints rather than orion Etsy, like Livettes. This is a ginal artwork is the easiest way to great solution for renters, too. Your slash your art budget. But there are only job? Peel and stick. thousands of graphic designers and For an even easier wallpaper illustrators to choose from online, hack, purchase a single panel of all hawking prints of their best your favourite design and have it work. So let me narrow things framed in the size of your choice — down for you. a perfect project for the DIY-er in Hop on over to the websites of all of us. My number-one pick (top these three artists, whose prints fit right) comes from Rifle Paper Co., every budget and modern artistic and it features metallic gold pinetaste: Jasmine Dowling, Stephanie apples, soft pink flowers and dark green leaves. jD Sterjovski Designs and The Aestate. As you’re browsing, consider Emma Gregg is in-house counsel at where you’ll hang the print. If it’s Travelers Canada and Precedent’s interior for a large, open living room, you design columnist. Find more online: precedentmagazine.com/housecall may want a poster-size print. If it’s
Noodle #1 (blue) $40.00
The First Peony $52
38 EXTRA CREDIT
PRECEDENTJD FALL 2016
You be the judge
After a half-century legal career, one of the profession’s giants has some defiantly idealistic advice for law students: follow your dreams
WHEN AGING MEMBERS of the profession like me
offer advice to young lawyers, the message is generally the same. Work hard. Don’t grumble. And focus on practising law. Otherwise, you’ll lose your place on the greasy pole. But most of this advice is of no use at all. It’s better to keep in mind why you went to law school in the first place (whether you set out to make a difference, serve the public or make bags of money) and trust your own instincts about the way forward. I have in mind the example of Hugh Verrier, the chairman of White & Case LLP, a top international firm. He graduated from law school, at the University of Ottawa, with more interest in seeing the world than spending nights in law libraries. So when White & Case, where he got his first law-firm job, offered him an opportunity at its Moscow office, he grabbed it, despite the conventional wisdom that it would be a career-limiting move. Russia is too far, he was warned, from the firm’s centres of power. But Verrier followed his own drumbeat, and after happily drifting for years around the firm’s foreign outposts, he landed in New York, perched atop the greasy pole. Contrast that with the stories of Justices Yves Pratte and Louis-Philippe de Grandpré. In the 1970s, these high-ranking Quebeckers were appointed directly to the Supreme Court of Canada. I imagine that both men saw such an appointment as the pinnacle of their legal careers — only to find out they didn’t like the job at all. Both apparently resigned from the court after a few years of malaise. And so, as they say, be careful what you wish for.
More advice: nobody really cares about your career except you. Employers look, rightly, to fulfilling their own needs. You are useful to them insofar as you help them meet those needs. If your job doesn’t permit you to achieve your career goals, whatever they are, walk away. If you don’t, you have only yourself to blame. Wayne Gretzky famously said: “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” The practice of law is moving in an unsustainable direction, largely because it has become too focused on the top one percent of people and corporations. Self-represented litigants fend for themselves daily in all levels of court. If lawyers can’t or won’t supply the service, the legal system will find ways to deal with disputes without resorting to lawyers. PayPal and eBay rely on onlinedispute resolution systems to resolve 90 percent of the 60 million user conflicts that occur each year. Online dispute resolution is also a reality in British Columbia for small claims court. Keep this in mind as you plan your career. Finally, nobody will be a success if they don’t like their work, especially if it’s in a disagreeable environment. The law offers terrific opportunities for a fulfilling career if you follow your own instincts, chart your own path and keep your independence so you’re able to walk away from an intolerable situation. Above all, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, stop doing it. jD Ian Binnie is one of the country's most famous litigators. He sat on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1998 to 2011. During that time he wrote more than 170 opinions. Today, he is counsel at Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP in Toronto.
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
by Ian Binnie