Ultra Vires


1L Summer Experiences

Five students provide a glimpse into their summers outside of Bay Street

The summer after 1L is full of opportunities⁠—for some, a chance to gain practical legal experience; for others, a chance to explore interests outside of the law. As the autumn weather creeps in and students return to Jackman, we asked some newly-minted 2Ls to reflect on their pursuits over the last few months.

Rachael Girolametto-Prosen and Sam Mitchell, Toronto tour guides

Girolametto-Prosen and Mitchell both deviated from law-related jobs by starting their own tour company of the city.

“When I was on a school exchange in Europe, I fell in love with walking tours. They were a great way to familiarize myself with a new place. However, back in Toronto, I realized there were no walking tours that provide a general introduction to the city,” Girolametto-Prosen explains. “There was a gap in the market.”

By using Airbnb Experiences, they advertised their walking tours to people from all over the world. “It was the next best thing to travelling,” says Girolametto-Prosen. 

For the duo, it was a fun and exciting time that allowed them flexible hours and a chance to take risks and make their own destiny. However, it wasn’t always easy.
“There was a lot of trial and error. There’s no instruction manual for this kind of business. We had to learn what motivated customers in the tourism market,” says Mitchell. “We had to work as a team. There were many strategic decisions to make, so we always had to be on the same page.”
Overall, they were incredibly happy with their experience. “It was the last summer to try something new before diving into our legal careers. While building our own business had its challenges, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Mitchell. “We’re both interested in business law, so starting our own business just made sense.”

Venessa Sectakof, Youth Summer Program Educator at U of T Law

Sectakof took part in the Faculty Hiring Process and worked with high school students interested in the law through the Youth Summer Program as an Educator. 

Secktakof was a LAWS Lab volunteer during 1L, so this opportunity was her dream summer job. As an Educator at U of T, she worked with three other individuals to develop a law-related curriculum that canvassed areas including criminal law, corporate law, and international law. 

They also facilitated workshops, mock trials in real courtrooms, and Model UN simulations. The program included weekly law firm visits and guest speakers such as former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci and Justice Rita Maxwell of the Ontario Court of Justice, who worked on the International Criminal Court’s first conviction. 

“One highlight was setting up crime scenes in the Rowell Room and Fireplace Room,” she said. The crime scene included fake blood, crime scene tape, and the alleged murder weapon. 

“Meeting all 400 of our students was my favourite part. I love teaching and working with high schoolers. Watching their nervousness grow into excitement by the end of each week was extremely rewarding and a fantastic experience.” 

She encourages students interested in working with youth and summer camps to apply and to reach out to her if they have any questions.

Kristy Wong, Downtown Legal Services (DLS) division leader in Criminal Law and University Offences

Wong has always been passionate about criminal law. So when she saw a position at DLS for criminal law, she was ecstatic. 

Wong’s role consisted of managing cases and clients. “We had the case files from the beginning of intake to the resolution, including running our own trials and hearings. I got to negotiate with Crown counsel, and speak to peace bonds and pleas,” she says. Their team also got the opportunity to conduct satellite clinics at women’s shelters and churches to identify legal issues for members of lower-income communities. Wong adds that she reviewed police notes and disclosures, and was responsible for writing facta and submissions. Through this role, she had to do plenty of research and write legal memoranda. 

“What was really exciting about this job was litigating in court,” she says. “You barely see law students or even articling students in court, so to have established counsel acknowledge you was exhilarating.” 

“What I loved about clinical experiences were how different they were to the classroom experience. They really help you build hands-on skills.”

Amanda Wolczanski, Legal and Policy Researcher, Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC)

Over the summer, Wolczanski had the opportunity to work in the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto conducting research. The SGC’s work in drug discovery is related to high-profile illnesses and rare diseases, among other areas. 

As a legal and policy researcher, Wolczanski explains that she primarily worked on a publication about open science as a viable business model for drug discovery. But she adds that this business model deviates from the norm.

“Usually in drug discovery, the industrial instinct is to patent everything right away and have that monopoly, but SGC’s philosophy was to conduct research without patents so other researchers had access to materials,” she says.

As someone who did an undergraduate degree in chemistry and politics, she was thrilled to combine her interests of innovation and knowledge in cities along with law while working a flexible schedule.

“I really liked my summer job. It defeats stereotypes about patenting early to draw in investors and encourages innovation.”

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