Nikita Munjal is a 3L JD/MBA Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. This article was written as a requirement for Prof. D’Agostino’s IP Intensive Program.
I loved my placement with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada (CBC).
Walking to the Toronto office on the first day of my placement, I felt nervous about whether I’d fit in with the seasoned legal team. Like most of my law school experience, I had worked myself up over nothing. The warm welcome I received from the lovely legal assistants, Justine and Celena, and my placement supervisor, Dan Ciraco, made me feel like a valuable member of the team. That feeling never faded during my 10-week placement, and a key reason for my positive experience is the thoughtful guidance and mentorship I received from Dan and my lawyer mentors.
My placement with CBC was possible due to Osgoode Hall Law School’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program (IP Intensive). Pioneered by Osgoode Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino, the IP Intensive is an innovative program that places third-year JD students in an organization heavily involved in IP matters. The first two weeks of the program function as a “boot camp” by introducing students to the fundamental aspects of IP and technology law. Immediately after, students are ushered off to their placements, allowing them to develop their interpersonal and practical legal research and writing skills. As I reflect on my experience, I can honestly say participating in the IP Intensive has been the highlight of my time at Osgoode.
At the beginning of each week, I was assigned a mentor from either the Business Law or Media Law Group. I spent time with the Media Law Group learning about the importance of the open-court principle, drafting submissions to the Federal Court, vetting stories, conducting legal research on the responsible communication defence, and attending a trial at the Federal Court of Appeal.
One of my most memorable experiences with the media lawyers occurred during my second week when I joined a call with the executive producers of an upcoming Fifth Estate documentary. I learned how to evaluate scripts to determine the level of legal risks accompanying a story by listening to the lawyers ask questions about the investigative process. Watching the documentary evolve from the initial script to the final screener, I gained an appreciation for the role CBC’s in-house counsel plays in supporting journalists to tell stories in the public’s interest.
I tailored my experience with the Business Law Group reviewing contracts, drafting amendments, and conducting research interpreting specific contractual provisions. A significant highlight for me was learning about contractual drafting and negotiation from my mentors. Contract drafting, I realized, can be a very personal exercise. Lawyers’ drafting choices can sometimes explain the minute changes between two contracts rather than reflecting any developments in case law. One of the most important lessons I learned from the business law team was navigating complex issues with no clear legal answer. We’re taught how to think like lawyers in law school, but the issues we solve are hypothetical. In practice, your clients still require solutions to their problems even if the law is unclear or unhelpful. Finding solutions to novel issues involves delicately balancing business knowledge, capital constraints, and the interests of different stakeholders.
As you can see, my placement taught me a lot about practicing law. However, the aspect of my internship I will treasure the most is the mentorship the lawyers provided me. I got to experience the best of both worlds by having a hybrid internship. I would try to coordinate my days in the office with my Toronto mentors, so we could go out for lunch or have impromptu chats in the hallway. My Montreal and Vancouver mentor’s enthusiasm and virtual check-ins never made me feel like I was missing out. Thinking back to a time before hybrid workplaces, it seems surreal that I might have never gotten to work with them.
I want to thank Professor D’Agostino and Ashley Moniz for securing placements and providing students with experiential experience early in their legal careers. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to my CBC supervisor, Dan Ciraco, and my lawyer mentors – Kat, Trevor, Danielle, Azim, Stephanie, Eve, Stephany, and Marguerite – for providing me with such a positive experience. If you are considering applying for the IP Intensive, I highly recommend choosing CBC for your placement.