Ultra Vires


A Summer at BLG Calgary

Summering, Stampeding, & Socials, Oh My!  


Kananaskis K-100 Team Relay Race
Photo credit: Brian Reigh

When I was asked to write this article, it was jokingly mentioned that I should discuss “selling my soul for $$$”. If this is considered selling my soul for $$$ then, not to brag, but I may have won some kind of soul-selling jackpot.

Whether you are from Calgary or only ever think about it in reference to cowboys and the Stampede, you may be wondering what it is actually like to work there. If you aren’t wondering what it’s like to work there, then hopefully the byline of this article was enough to pique your interest.

As a native Calgarian, I have loved the adventure of moving to Toronto and exploring Ontario, and I did not expect that I would want to return to Calgary for work. Every time I went back to Calgary for the holidays, I would take the opportunity to go hike or ski in the mountains, take a day trip to Banff with my twin brother, or visit a great brunch place downtown to catch up with old friends. There were many things about Calgary that I grew to miss during my time in Ontario and so, when I was offered a 1L summer position at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), I was excited to accept. I had no idea that this would be one of my most memorable summers yet.

Discussing the legal work would only do justice to half of my experience as a summer student. BLG organized work socials for just about every event you could imagine throughout the summer. Some events include a weekend golf trip to Fernie, B.C.; numerous Stampede events, including rodeos and concerts; a 100-km team race in Kananaskis; and a FIFA World Cup breakfast. The students had a slo-pitch team, a lawn bowling team, and frequently went bouldering together with associates at the firm.

Essentially, the summer vibe can succinctly be illustrated by this anecdote from Stampede. I was working on a memo on a Wednesday at 11:00 am when a partner stopped by my door and asked: “are you going to sit inside and waste your life or are you going to go to the rodeo?” (I went to the rodeo).

Calgary Bar Battle of the Bands
Photo credit: Kim Ho

During Stampede, the students made and placed decorations at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, one of BLG’s many charitable involvements. Associates and partners also participated in a “Battle of the Bands” night, composed entirely of individuals practicing law in Calgary. During the day, we would go for ice cream trips, have lunch in the park downtown, and even sneak away to a patio on afternoons when it was too warm to be in the office (or as we preferred to call it, “business meetings”).

Aside from all of the fun, we really did work hard, I promise! I was part of a group of fifteen brilliant students from all over the country. The first week was our orientation week, where we were met with a welcome reception and educational seminars on how to be successful summer students and lawyers. Many associates gave presentations about their different practice groups and stopped by student offices to welcome us to the firm. We were subsequently assigned associate mentors who were open to questions at any time of day, but we were also informally mentored by many others. The firm proved to have an open door policy throughout the summer.

On the litigation floors, associates and partners took us to observe examinations for discovery and trials. It was not uncommon for our work to get sent straight to clients or to have associates ask for our opinions on certain legal issues.

On the corporate floors, we would attend shareholder meetings, witness will signings, assist in deal closings, and so much more. We also had seminars throughout the summer on different areas of the law by experts at the firm and had sessions on mental health and harassment in the workplace.

We were encouraged to be entrepreneurial with our work in that we could request and seek out the type of work in which we were interested. There was always an opportunity to get involved in a research project, blog post, or an ongoing case in an area of interest (ranging from insolvency and employment litigation to cryptocurrency and cannabis companies).

I learned so much more in four months than I could have expected and was honestly sad to return to law school for another two years before articling in 2020 (I am sure I will regret that statement at some point in my articling year, but, for now, I stand by it).

It is clear that BLG Calgary prioritizes a work-culture based on collaboration and mentorship. From articling students to partners, there is a dynamic, creative, and friendly work culture at BLG Calgary that I will truly miss while I am in Toronto.

Calgary has a great mix between a corporate and recreational lifestyle, and I would encourage anyone to apply during the recruits. You never know what opportunity could be waiting for you in the charming (but still wild) west.

P.S. In the photos with me is Sinem Ersoy, a fellow 2L who summered with me and who I am sure would be open to answering any questions about her experience summering at BLG (and about her new obsession with cowboy hats and two-stepping).

Recent Stories