Embracing the Virtual Workspace: My Semester with CBC (IP Intensive Reflection)

On the first day of my internship at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), I visited the office to pick up my laptop and security pass, only to head right back home to continue working for the afternoon. I started the semester worried about the impact that the pandemic would have on the internship, but looking back on the semester, I can confidently say it was a seamless work-from-home experience. The one thing I thought I would miss out on was being able to experience the workplace culture. However, through attending all of the weekly check-in meetings with both the business law and media law groups, I quickly felt like I was a part of both teams. I had a chance to experience the team dynamics and feel supported by everyone as I shared updates on all of the interesting projects I worked on.

The internship is a part of IP Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program, which is a unique experiential program that gives students an opportunity to work at an organization that is involved with IP matters for an entire semester. The first two weeks of the program included training from experts in a variety of areas including copyright, trademarks, patent, technology, and privacy law. Then, for my subsequent ten-week internship at CBC, Dan Ciraco was my supervisor and each week I worked with a different lawyer mentor (from either the business or media law teams) to get exposure to new types of files.

One opportunity that the virtual workspace allowed, which otherwise may not have been possible, is the ability to observe virtual cross-examinations and court hearings. One in particular was at the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which was an absolute privilege to attend. The case is a pivotal one for journalists since it dealt with the constitutionality of the Court of Appeal’s policy related to record and courtroom access. The decision will undoubtedly impact how the media will access court documents in the future. In addition to these shadowing opportunities, I was able to work on a variety of research projects related to copyright terms, fair dealing, trademark infringement, and access to information issues. One research project allowed me to practice drafting arguments in preparation for a hearing. I also had the opportunity to review licensing and service agreements and assist with drafting clauses. Another project allowed me to review past agreements to help develop a template resource to increase efficiency and uniformity.

I am grateful that I was able to get exposure to the in-house legal department environment so early on in my career to complement my experience working at private law firms. It was a great change in perspective to see the dynamic of the lawyer-client relationship within an organization. As a media organization and public broadcaster, I learned a lot about the approach an organization like CBC takes to secure and enforce its IP rights.

When reflecting with my supervisor on the goals I had for the internship, I mentioned that I wanted exposure to opportunities that were unique to CBC. While many of those opportunities arose, one in particular was a highlight for me. With a few of the lawyers on the media law team, I was able to attend vetting meetings for stories with the Fifth Estate and CBC Marketplace, which are two programs I have loved watching over the years. Sitting in on these meetings, I observed the teamwork and collaboration that lawyers and journalists engage in to tell compelling stories. There is a delicate balance that must respect the journalistic process, but still manage legal risks. I also observed this balance when I assisted with creating internal training resources for journalists, which help to empower them with foundational knowledge to manage risks as they conduct their work in the field.

This was a pivotal moment in the early stages of my legal career that has given me exposure to a network of supportive mentors and leaders in the legal field. This experience has been added to my exposure to Bay Street firms and an in-house summer student secondment. I am certain my experience with CBC will help me as I continue with my professional endeavours. I am so thankful to my supervisor Dan Ciraco for his guidance throughout the program and his advice on my academic work throughout the semester. I also extend my gratitude to IP Osgoode and Professors D’Agostino and Vaver for this unique and rewarding opportunity.

Written by Summer Lewis, a third year JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School, enrolled in Professors D’Agostino and Vaver 2020/2021 IP & Technology Law 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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