After Osler associate Geoffrey Hunnisett finished speaking at the 2012 Out on Bay Street conference, he went over to the bar. That’s when Brandon Kerstens, a second-year law student, approached him to say hello. “Geoff brushed me aside,” he recalls. But Brandon wasn’t thinking of romance. “I saw him as a useful connection,” he says with a laugh.
Around that time, Brandon was going through OCIs. He landed an interview at Osler — and Geoffrey was on the team that interviewed him. “Geoff made me an offer on behalf of the firm,” says Brandon. “This time I turned him down.” Instead, Brandon went to Heenan Blaikie.
When Brandon started his summer job, in 2013, Heenan was 10 months away from its stunning collapse. Brandon saw partners fleeing to other firms. “It didn’t seem like a place I could grow,” he says. He got in touch with Osler and asked if he could article there the next year. The firm interviewed him again, and agreed. So at least one good thing came out of Heenan’s downfall: Brandon would be reunited with Geoffrey.
Near the end of Brandon’s articling term, Geoffrey took him for coffee. “It’s common to check in with new hires,” says Geoffrey. “It was purely business.” Once Brandon finished articling, they got dinner at SpeakEasy 21. “We flipped into dating mode pretty quickly,” says Geoffrey.
Dating a colleague has its advantages. Last year, when Geoffrey finished a lengthy arbitration, Brandon left a bottle of champagne on his desk.
They moved in together a few months after they started dating. It didn’t take long for the “L” word to drop. “We looked at each other,” says Brandon, “and said, ‘There’s no way we should be able to say it this early, but we absolutely, undoubtedly do.’”