The Moot Times UCalgary Law
Olsen on Bennett Jones
Tell us about yourself – background, interests, why did you chose UofC law?
Prior to law school, I completed my undergrad in Chemical and Process Engineering at Queen’s University. After working in engineering positions in the summers, I realized that engineering wasn’t quite the right fit for me, but I knew that if I was going to do something else I wanted it to be able to build on my current degree. I loved the problem solving aspect of engineering so I decided to look into law. I knew that there was no better city than Calgary to pursue my legal career given my background and its relation to the oil and gas industry.
Outside of school, I am an avid soccer player, having played at the provincial and varsity levels. I am also an artist specializing in acrylic paintings and pencil portraits as well as an avid traveller having visited over 20 countries.
Why did you decide to pursue 1L recruit, and how did you find the process?
I knew that I wanted to do 1L recruit from the beginning because I believe that there are a great number of practical skills that can’t be taught in a classroom. I wanted to have the chance to work in a firm, as early as I could, to start developing the skills that I would need after graduating.
The process was daunting at first but I found that having the short time frame actually helped to better compare the firms and really see what makes each firm unique. The way the process is structured was also helpful in that it forced you to really just be your natural self because you didn’t have time to overthink things. Having a tight agenda for the week allows you to completely focus on the recruit and stay in that recruit mindset without having to worry about other things like school. It was a tiring week but it really didn’t feel like work and I actually enjoyed the process. The career and professional development office staff were also incredible at making the process as easy and seamless as you could hope.
Why did you decide to apply to Bennett Jones?
I knew that I wanted to work at a large full service firm so that I could have the opportunity to get experience in multiple areas and see which area I was most interested in. My initial inclination was towards oil and gas, so it was also important to me that the firm have a strong energy and oil and gas business. I think its also important to make note of the lawyers that you meet during the networking events to see which people you connect with in order to start to figure out your “fit”. I had met a number of Bennett Jones lawyers at the various networking events throughout the year and found that I could really picture myself fitting well within the firm.
What was your experience at Bennett Jones as a summer student?
My experience at Bennett Jones was amazing. I was able to try a wide range of projects in a wide range of areas. Bennett Jones really encourages students to work in different departments and meet as many people in the firm as you can. There were tons of opportunities to try projects in various departments with varying degrees of involvement and difficulty. I found that supervising lawyers for student projects were incredibly encouraging and really trusted your abilities, allowing you to take on projects outside of those assigned to you if you showed interest. Something else that I found to be really amazing was the mentorship, both formal and informal. Everyone from articling students to partners were happy to find ways to get students involved in areas of interest or to sit down and help you solve problems.
Can you provide some advice for students considering 1L recruit, and students considering other recruitment opportunities in the future?
The best piece of advice that I had received going into 1L recruit – although I didn’t know it at the time – was honestly to just be yourself and be nice. Most interviews are quite casual and conversational. There is no benefit to overthinking things and trying to be someone you’re not. Just stay calm and think about it as a conversation. Obviously try and point out some of your skills but don’t be afraid to crack some jokes and make casual conversation about mutual interests – people hire people that they want to work with. Another piece of advice is to reach out to previous summer students or current articling students to ask questions about the firm and the interview process. Not only does this look good to the firms in that you are showing interest, but it is also incredibly helpful to get first hand advice from students that have gone through the process. Lastly, being organized and timely is incredibly important. Make sure to jot down notes after each interview regarding the conversations that you had and send personalized thank you emails. Overall, don’t overthink it and freak yourself out – stay calm and just be your authentic self.