I recently completed a placement in the legal department of The Globe and Mail as part of Osgoode’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Intensive Program. I had a fantastic time.
My experience confirmed all the positive aspects of experiential learning. At The Globe I was lucky to be assigned a large project that bisected their entire business. It was a wonderful opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see how various departments work to make a newspaper. It also provided valuable insight into how a business works and the role of a lawyer within an organization.
One of the most interesting parts of my placement was talking to people throughout the building. I spent time contacting different departments to gather information and then processing it from a legal perspective. People from IT, advertising and finance think about legal issues differently than lawyers. Negotiating these differences (often through research and many, many questions) was the area where I feel I learned the most.
It was interesting to see how the law underpinned what went on but was rarely at the forefront of people’s daily activities (the legal department excepted). This repositioning of the law in relation to what went on contrasted with school significantly. Instead of spending each day trying to swallow legal disciplines whole and reconcile unsolvable legal dilemmas, the facts and issues were generally tangible. Instead of theoretical contracts, the contracts were real and reading them was often interesting.
It was a relief, once presented with questions particular to The Globe’s business, to find that my legal education so far has equipped me with the foundation and context sufficient to respond. After three months I definitely feel that the gap between what I have learned in school and what lawyers do in practice has shrunk.
Exposure to the practice of an in-house lawyer was also quite interesting. Having to make decisions while considering the law and the business at all times is a developed skill and requires detailed knowledge of both.
Everyone I met was lovely, helpful and took the time to explain things to me and seemed invested in ensuring I had a rich educational experience, which I certainly did.
Kalen Lumsden is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.