Beck on Blakes: A Summer Student’s Guide to Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is an international firm founded in 1856 with a spectrum of legal expertise. Their Calgary office hires a number of 1Ls, 2Ls, and articling students. A recent 1L student, Austin Beck, sat down with The Moot Times to tell us about his summer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Austin! What is your background, what are some of your interests, and why did you choose U of C Law School?
I’m from a small town in southern Alberta called Bow Island (no, it’s not an island). I’ve wanted to come to law school ever since high school because the practice of law seemed to be (and is) an exciting and dynamic profession that opens up many different career possibilities. After high school I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge. I majored in political science and minored in history and philosophy – mostly out of interest, but also because I felt that these disciplines were particularly relevant to law school. I chose to come to U of C law because I wanted to live and work in Calgary long-term.
My interests mainly involve sports and the outdoors – largely because there was nothing else to do growing up in a small town. I played almost every sport growing up, and I still play on three hockey teams and the rugby team. I also enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting, boating, hiking, and golf. Outside of that, I also volunteer for SLA’s trial division.
Why did you decide to pursue 1L recruit, and how did you find the process?
I had wanted to pursue corporate law in Calgary for some time, and so I was always planning on participating in 1L recruit. I’m sure I found the process as busy, intense, and stressful as everyone else.
Why did you decide to apply to Blakes?
I decided where I wanted to apply based on my experience attending the networking events hosted by the various firms in the city. Blakes stood out to me from the beginning, and as I met more people from the firm throughout the year, I became convinced I had found the elusive “fit” that all the 1L recruit events seem to mention. I chose to work at Blakes because the firm has extensive expertise in complex, large-scale legal work, as well as based on the personalities of the lawyers I met.
What was your experience at Blakes as a Summer Student?
I had an amazing summer at Blakes. There were six 2L and five 1L students. Blakes doesn’t have a rotation for summer students, so I was on the energy floor for the whole summer. However, there are plenty of opportunities to receive different work via the email chain / asking for it. I probably did about 80% corporate work, but I think I ended up taking work from most, if not all, of the different practice areas at the firm.
Blakes provides various social opportunities throughout the summer. The firm has soccer and softball teams in the CSSC league, and I found that these games were excellent opportunities to get to know the other summer students, articling students, and associates. The firm also puts on a softball tournament and a golf tournament, both of which are a lot of fun – no experience required. Additionally, Blakes puts on other in-firm events throughout the summer.
Can you provide some advice for students considering 1L recruit, and students considering other recruitment opportunities in the future?
I think the best advice I got before 1L recruit was “Relax, be yourself, and have fun with it.” Although “fun” may seem counter-intuitive, I found that trying to enjoy the process helped me get through four long days of interviews, coffees and dinners. Firms are trying to get a sense of who you are, and so it is important to relax and be genuine at all times while meeting with recruiters. I also found that this helped calm the nerves during interviews. Additionally, grades obviously matter, and it is important to do well on midterm exams if you are thinking about 1L recruit.