You’ve Got Mail – A Contract You Can Read!! My Virtual Placement at the Globe and Mail (IP Intensive Reflection)

Shayna Jan is an IP Intensive student and a 3L JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the course requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

Growing up, like many children, I had a skewed perception of the news. To me, the news existed as the excess pages attached to the crossword. The paper was so thin, my heavy- handed penmanship would often bleed through the page. The news was also the channel my grandparents never let me change, despite the fact that the content always seemed to make them sigh and shake their head. I never understood why adults cared so much about the world around them, when the world truly seemed like such a depressing place. I suppose not much has changed, except for my perspective, which has been shaped by my education and genuine curiosity. I discovered a passion for uncovering truths, through the mystery novels I buried my nose in, the work I did for the school paper, and the headlines I encountered on my phone.

When I was told that I’d be spending my first semester of 3L at the Globe and Mail, I became enamoured with the realization that I wouldn’t have to attend classes, make summaries, or write exams for a whole ten weeks! I was excited for the change of pace and the practical learning opportunity ahead. One thing law school doesn’t teach is how to actually practice law. Crazy, right? We are given the tools to think critically and spot issues, but drafting and client correspondence is often left up to volunteer work, summer positions, or experiential opportunities such as this placement. With that said, I was excited to feel like a lawyer for once.

The Globe was especially enticing, as Canada’s most widely read newspaper, but I also had no idea what to expect. Isn’t the news a dying industry? What sort of IP issues could I possibly face? Half of me wondered if I’d spend my days seated in the corner of a newsroom while journalists barked pitches at the editor, who would periodically look over at me to confirm no laws were being broken. Of course, I didn’t have the authority or the experience to make these calls, and Covid ruined my plans to star in what sounds like the plot to a mockumentary sitcom.

With that said, the Globe’s Associate General Counsel, Sophia Javed, did make sure to include me at every step of the process –from initial inquiries up until the final draft of the agreement. I also had the opportunity to explore new areas of law which I hadn’t considered before, such as privacy and anti-spam. This was the most surprising thing about the Globe, as I was reminded of its identity as a business, first and foremost, one with a prominent online presence. This means that, like other private companies, the Globe must comply with consumer protection laws.

Speaking of consumer protection and putting users first, my time at the Globe also reminded me that, contrary to popular belief, lawyers exist to make their clients’ lives easier. With that said, contracts should be clearly written, without legal jargon, to avoid litigation. It’s easy for lawyers to fall into the habit of recycling old precedents, with little to no revisions, even if they make no sense. However, at the Globe, I was encouraged to bring a new perspective to these documents. My creative mindset and background in English served to be an asset, as I was able to use the writing skills I cultivated in undergrad to my advantage.

All in all, this was a valuable experience for me, as I learned about the challenges and the perks that came with advising in an in-house capacity. I found that I really enjoyed the role each lawyer plays, as they wear multiple hats and are expected to be experts in not only the law, but the business as well. I can certainly see myself working in a similar role, in the future, maybe at another media or publishing company.

Thank you to Professor Vaver and the lawyers at the Globe, for guiding me throughout the term and providing me with knowledge that will surely inform the rest of my legal career.

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