Doubly Digital: My Virtual Semester at The Globe and Mail (IP Intensive Reflection)

When I think of newspapers, I think of black ink smudging across broadsheet. I think of Gissing’s Grub Street, of cigarette smoke, and even of my own youth in Toronto’s west end. I recall pleading with my mother on a strikingly sunny afternoon following my tenth birthday. I had just uttered the two words I thought every parent wanted to hear: paper route. Wary of my new responsibility becoming hers, my mother never relented. Little did I know, the legal education I anticipated would culminate in a ten-week internship at The Globe and Mail, Canada’s foremost news media company.

As I completed my placement at The Globe, it’s worth noting that I haven’t seen a newsroom or handled A3 newsprint. Like many of my peers learning law in the time of pandemic, I’ve spent the semester hunched over a computer in a corner of my apartment. At the same time, I’ve been fortunate to have virtual experiences that most law students won’t: I’ve met with The Globe and Mail’s legal counsel on a weekly basis, supporting them with a variety of issues within and beyond the ambit of intellectual property law.

Before beginning my placement, I suspected that much of my work would relate to The Globe’s digital platforms and services. An unabashed bibliophile, I prefer print to screen but concede that screen is here to stay. After all, I may stubbornly insist on lugging an 800-page novel or casebook, but I’d be lying if I said that most of my reading takes place offline. Personal admissions aside, this assumption was, in part, correct. While print may not be dead, the digital continues to change how businesses operate and innovate. What I did underestimate was the extent to which such shifts implicate unexpected considerations and areas of law. For instance, I expected my assignments to engage copyright, trademark, and privacy, but consumer protection was a welcome surprise.

And perhaps this was my favourite part of the internship: gaining exposure to terms, practices, and industries I’d never heard of, through the lens of law. As surreal as it was to undertake my first trademark check or draft a notice of infringement, the deliverables that pushed me out of my comfort zone—be it research on advertising technology, or the review of a wire services agreement—were the most memorable. The internship fostered a space to put knowledge to practice, but it gave me a chance to learn beyond the four corners of a syllabus as well.

Now, it’s impossible to reflect on one’s experience at a news media company in 2020 without broaching one of the year’s biggest headlines: namely, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. When I applied for Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program in January, I imagined I’d spend my fall in an office. This never happened; however, distance did not diminish the warmth and professionalism with which I was welcomed by The Globe’s legal team. My supervisor, Yovan Grulovic, made an effort to understand my interests and assigned tasks aligned with them. The Globe’s Associate General Counsel, Sophia Javed, similarly strove to include me in conversations and projects as often as possible. I sincerely appreciated their mentorship and the time they made to invest in my experiential education. It was a pleasure and privilege to witness their approaches to in-house lawyering—under unprecedented circumstances, no less.

In addition to this wonderful group at The Globe, I extend many thanks to Professor D’Agostino, Professor Vaver, and Olha Senyshyn for their commitment to the IP Intensive. It can’t be easy to facilitate remotely a program that promises practical experience, but they did just this, and they did it well. Needless to say, if you are a student interested in intellectual property, technology, and in-house legal experience, this is the opportunity for you. As I complete my final semester at Osgoode, I can swiftly say that this one was particularly rewarding.

Written by Halyna Chumak, JD Candidate 2021, enrolled in Professors D’Agostino’s and Vaver’s 2020/2021 IP Law & Technology Intensive Program at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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