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#566865 I got articles. I actually got articles.

Posted by Another Hutz on 05 December 2015 - 04:41 PM

I wrote this recently. To preserve anonymity, I can't share every detail. If something is left out (e.g. law school, practice area, locations) it's most likely intentional. Please forgive the length and any haughtiness. 




Tomorrow I start articles. It happened. It finally happened. Holy. God.


For those of you that don't know, I have been on the forum since prepping for the LSAT back in fall of 2011. It's been 4 years since then. Like any other 2L that didn't know what kind of law they wanted to practice, I applied to OCIs. Average student, couple interviews. I remember being surprised I got in-firms. I had such low expectations and Vancouver in-firms were a whirlwind. I've never been in towers so high: immaculate interiors, clients worth millions ... it was intimidating. Somehow through the process, I got my hopes up. When they called to say their preferred candidate accepted, I remember being surprised again at how disappointed I was.


I was invested in OCIs because it delayed actually thinking about what I wanted to do. It delayed having to demonstrate specific interests, it delayed having to sell myself out there in the real world. That's not a terrible thing. Full service firms are great for finding out what you like. When 3L recruitment didn't work out it was the same feeling. I spent 3L applying to what came up, sending emails to a few firms here and there. It wasn't enough, I had to go out there and sell myself.


I graduated without articles and I spent the summer networking, coffees, cold calls. Not as many as I could have. I really could have done more. Posted my articling ad with trial lawyers, highly recommend doing this (Thanks Hegdis). Thought about what I really valued and how I could articulate that, I thought about what kinds of clients I wanted (Thanks Diplock). On this forum there were a number of people who gave me some words of advice (Thanks Pyke), some sent me postings whether for articles or just a good law related job (Thanks sunnyskies, quincywagstaff, kurrika), support during school (Thanks Dubs604), commiserating with me on the search (Thanks schroed) or just moral support (Thanks almostnot). Uriel's positivity about legal practice helped prevent me from getting jaded (Thanks Uriel). I would not be the person I am today without this forum.


"Everything happens for a reason" is a platitude my partner's mom frequently says. I know what you're thinking, hear me out. I got an interview with this firm because I had a tiny bit of experience in that area of law. How did I get that experience? A family friend lawyer offered me a part time volunteering gig. I strongly resisted the idea at the time. It seemed like nepotism even though this wasn't family. I wanted to do it on my own or I wanted to be paid. Everyone looked at me like an idiot. My decision was naive and amusing to them … so I relented and took it. If I stuck to my gut, I wouldn't have experience in that area, and without experience in that area, I wouldn't have been interesting to this firm.


Another thing: I took a non law job in September that turned out to be a poor place to be and I made a difficult decision to quit. I had agreed to give my employer a month's notice before departing. Thank goodness I left when I did because I would not have been able to accept articles with such an early start date if I stayed. But at the time I made that decision, I had no clue this articling opportunity would come up.


I want to emphasize: I don't think the decisions above were necessarily the right ones. I had good reasons to decide otherwise. But if they didn't happen they way they did, I wouldn't be here. There's so much luck involved, you just can't predict what will help and what won't. So make decisions you can live with and whatever happens will happen.


I was prepared to talk law at the interview. I did my homework. Luckily, I didn't have to talk substantive law, just about my resume. However, knowing the law properly gave me confidence throughout because I knew I could handle what came up. Knowing stories from my resume experiences helped, too. I had it down pat. They were easy going people, very relaxed, just like me. And so I did what I do best: I had fun with it. My stories either make the point that I "get" it, and that I can always find something to laugh about. I made jokes, I learned to balance my instinct for self-deprecation with confidence.


By the way, everyone has stories! Those experiences that were so awful to endure - it's all really funny in hindsight. I didn't share this story at the interview but it's a good example: In working in that awful non law position, I was instructed to show my employer's rental apartment. Even though it's within the scope of an assistant's duties, I really did not foresee this kind of task. It's something I've never done before. I had to drive out in a van that smelled like cigarettes, in heavy rain (so I got wet opening the window just to breathe). It was at night to a part of town I've never visited, to show a residence I've never seen. I did not enjoy that day. It's hilarious in hindsight though, like, wtf, that happened. And now I can say I've done something like that. Of course I was dreading it. I had a new license and drove about 10 times a year (city kids take transit everywhere). But I did it, and I think it's a funny story about how I handle unexpected things: I get it done. Don't like that story? Think I'm coming off as someone who complains about unusual assignments? Well, I'm glad you don't want me around because we wouldn't do well together.


After the interview, I remember walking away completely satisfied with my performance. I thought, "you know what, even if I don't get it, it's OK, because not every case is going to go my way. I can still be happy about the arguments I made." I felt like I really got through who I was, what I valued, why I wanted to practice in their area, that I was someone who could get the job done and be great to have around. I know that sometimes being yourself doesn't pay off. Sometimes they don't really like who you are, they think you are too confident, not confident enough, or that you're perfect but someone else has that one thing you don't. 


Wouldn't you know it, before I left the firm's general vicinity I got the call. They liked me. Flying colours. Decent salary, PLTC fees paid, nice people, respectable small firm … of course, you never know what it's actually like until you start and I expect articling itself to be a nightmare. And they might not like me either after I start. But who the hell cares about that right now?! The now is about being happy. I am happy, and above all, I know I am truly fortunate.


[Endnote: I have started work and clearly this is the kind of firm where I have to be working my butt off, harder than everyone else, proving myself every day. It's a bit daunting but I'm not phased. I've prepared for this mentally for the last 2 years. I am ready to fail, pick myself up again, have a small success, be sternly talked down to, be kind to myself, stress eat, weekends … my body is ready. I was not handed this on a silver platter, I know it's worth as well as my own.]

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#327409 Law School Saved My Life

Posted by john.milton.qc on 14 June 2012 - 10:25 AM

I'm writing this post because I've read so many depressing "law has ruined my life" stories that I felt it important to provide a positive anecdote.

By the sounds of it, there are plenty of people who wish they never went to law school. They struggle with the pressures of law, the content of their courses, and securing an articling/associate position. After graduating, many find their new lifestyle intolerable. I empathise with their predicament - who can deny the difficulty (and sometimes monotony) of legal practice? The pressures are very real, and the job market and power politics make them worse. I would never fault anyone for feeling frustrated, or of wanting to share their frustration on a public forum to warn others that practicing law is not always sunshine and lollipops. But please remember that such people are speaking from their own experience, and that for every jaded soul there are a whole host of satisfied and emotionally fulfilled professionals.

I never wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school because I knew my poli sci and history undergraduate degree weren't going to get me very far in life. I never did much research into the job market or gave a second thought as to what I would do after graduating. I don't recommend doing the same, I just want to provide you with some context. I had no presuppositions or expectations. I didn't know what salaries lawyers earned or how they spent a typical day. I was just a kid who wasn't done learning.

I wrote the bar exam twice because my first score was lower than my practice scores and what I needed to get in. It was awful, but I worked hard and got the score I wanted. I got accepted to a single school and it happened so late in the cycle that I had begun considering alternative careers. I couldn't care less where I was going, and was just thrilled to be welcomed in.

First year was the hardest year of my life. I worked like hell and finished near the top of my class. I participated in a whole host of extra-curriculars. When the year was through I took a job at a poverty law clinic. The following year I participated in the OCI process and got a job at a big law firm. I turned down an opportunity to article there in exchange for a judicial clerkship. Following my clerkship I took a job with a smaller practice in the specialized area of law that interests me.

I know all that sounds easy, but it wasn't. I stressed like hell over exams and interviews like any law student would. Nothing came easy, every single step took a lot of work, but the last 4 years have been the most fulfilling years of my life. I've went from a young kid to a trained professional. There's still a lot of hard work ahead but I'm thrilled with the challenge. I'd always heard that the great thing about a professional education is that they can't take it away from you. I never really appreciated that old adage until I looked at myself in the mirror after my call to the bar. I realized that things were different now. I held a position of public trust with all the responsibilities and obligations that followed. My school days were over. I would no longer be describing myself as a law/articling student - I was a lawyer now.

And yes, I'm in substantial debt. But I'll be earning a great paycheque and I should be able to pay it off in the next 3 to 5 years. I'd be lying if I told you I never stayed up at night worrying about when I was going to have the time and money to start a family, but through it all I have never questioned my commitment to my career.

I think law is interesting and important. The practice of law is challenging but rewarding. And most importantly, I'm happy. To those of you that struggle with your decision, I hope you figure out what it takes to make you happy - whether that means leaving the law or finding the right niche within it. And to those of you just starting out, you're going to spend the next few years reading about the problems that plague the practice of law. Those are important warnings that should encourage you to sleep well, eat right, and avoid being consumed by the pressures of your day. Easier said then done, I know. Just remember that there's a lot great stuff that comes with being a lawyer, and that you should try to stay positive. Practicing law is a privilege and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
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#369995 social inadequacy

Posted by Retsage on 16 February 2013 - 09:22 PM

Erin, I don't think you get it - and I in no way mean that as an attack against you. You should feel very proud about giving back and working to help others. It’s, above all, good and you certainly didn’t have to do it. But that’s not what I mean when I discuss privilege. Privilege has nothing to do with using it as a tactlessly blunt tool. And, aside from conversations about private schools, most people I know at U of T never mention their backgrounds or their familial wealth. Likewise, a good number spend a lot of their time giving back, and, as I just said, that’s a wonderful thing to do. But when I talk about privilege, those actions are unrelated. To someone from a less privileged background, I’ve never felt like someone from a more privileged background was actively and tactlessly trying to make me feel bad about my background. It was always far more insidious, lurking in the background.

When you interviewed at firms and a partner asked you where your favourite place to travel was, I bet you had a dozen cool stories from a lifetime of travel with your family and on your own. That summer you spent volunteering here-or-there that so impressed the associate, who also believed in the value of volunteering and liked you all the more for it, someone else spent working instead. That beautifully well-fitting suit cost you three times what someone else’s off-the-rack, poorly fitted one did, and you felt comfortable wearing suits in the first place because you had been doing so your entire life. When you went to a wine and cheese, you knew to hold your wine glass by the stem. When the associate mentioned squash, you told her you were on the team in high school and, holy shit, you went to Branksome Hall too?! When you talked to the partner, you weren't intimidated by someone who earned twenty times what your father ever did. You walked into those firms with the confidence of someone acclimated to high society. You never felt like an outsider looking into a completely foreign new world of privilege, with its own social rules and dynamics. You came in as an insider, expecting to be treated as an equal. You knew you deserved to be there. There was no thought of being an imposter in your mind, no nagging doubt of what the fuck am I doing here?

It has nothing to do with you as a person using your privilege. Nor is it a value judgment that you are selfish, entitled, or in any way a bad person. Giving back to the community is wonderful and, above all, good and I have no intention of downplaying your contributions. My point is that when underprivileged kids speak of privilege, we’re not talking about people loudly flaunting their wealth and family connections. The atmosphere of privilege is not based on the actions which you actively control. Privilege is not something you should be ashamed of, and I won't go into a rage like Diplock did over it because you no more chose to be privileged than he chose not to be. But when you say that you understand what poorer kids feel when we talk about privilege because of the work you’ve done volunteering, you are mistaken. Privilege has to do with the knowledge and socialization a lifetime spent in the upper echelons of society has instilled in you. It has to do with the attitudes and experiences you've accumulated that allow you to feel comfortable when sitting in front of a partner and chatting about the finer aspects of an Amarone versus Niagara wine. 

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#334194 The OCI Process: Part 1 - The Application Process

Posted by Pyke on 21 July 2012 - 11:15 PM

For the purposes of this thread, I am assuming you are a student enrolled at a Canadian law school that engages in On Campus Interviews. I am assuming you do not have much experience with most Canadian law firms. I am also assuming you are interested in a Bay Street job, because otherwise the process might be very different. I should also add that viDesktop was not around when I went through this process, which might reduce your work a little.

After spending a lot of time over the years helping people with this, I figured that I would try to come up with something to help people out. I might (or might not) do more installments later on preparing for On Campus Interviews and then Interview week, but for now, I will focus on Part 1 - The Application Process.

It is currently July 22. That means in a little over a month, most schools will have their deadlines for applying to firms on Bay Street, likely before school actually starts. This should not take you by surprise because you are reading this thread. It can seem like a daunting process - what to do, where to start, how to handle it. I will do my best to help you get from here, completely naive pre-2L law student, to there, namely, somewhat less naive 2L student who has sent out applications.

The First Step: Data Gathering
The very first thing you must do is begin the process of gathering data on the firms. This might sound like a trivial process, but it really is not. As an inexperienced and bushy tailed law student, you likely do not know, as I did not know, most of the firms out there. This means you're going to need to read about them and figure out what might be a good fit for you. The only way to do that is to go through the career centre list one by one, which is a time consuming process.

The challenge here is that, you're going to be going through a lot of firms. You may not know what firms interest you or what firms can have similar* (more on this later) cover letters and which cannot. There are a few different ways to handle this problem, but in my opinion, your best bet is to open up Microsoft Excel (or Word if you are lost in Excel) and build yourself a table... or two.

Table #1: Nuts and Bolts
The first table should contain the "nuts and bolts" information that you are going to need to develop a cover letter for the firm. There are a lot of things that you may not have thought of that you actually need here. For example, did it occur to you that some firms abbreviate their firm name in a completely unexpected way? Borden Ladner Gervais LLP becomes BLG, but Gowling Lafleur Henderson is simply Gowlings, and Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP remains... well Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP. It's important to know this before you submit your applications, or you run the risk that your cover letters appear impersonal or incorrect.

The first table should have the following information:
-Law Firm
-Law Firm (Short Name - Look on their website how they describe themselves in About Us or other sections)
-Type of Cover Letter (I will come back to this)
-Title (Mr / Ms. / Mrs. / Other)
-First Name
-Last Name (the purpose of splitting them up is for mail merge [Excel folks only] simplicity - it allows you to do title/last name if you want)
-Position (Some people have none, but most do)
-Address 1
-Address 2 (Depending on if the firm splits their address in a weird way)
-Postal Code
-Phone Number

This information will allow you to ensure that your cover letter is directed to the correct person, will save you time in searching for any contact information should you require it later, and will also make it easy for you to send applications electronically if they accept them (some do, some don't).

It is important to note that this table is primarily concerned with the actual administrative details needed to apply, as opposed to substantive requirements. Therefore, I would avoid placing things like whether the firm wants a List of Upper Year Courses or whether they want References in this table, placing them in the second one instead.

Table #2: The Main Course
Of course, all of the nuts and bolts are useless if you do not have any idea of what the firm does, or why. You need to be able to talk about the firm in your cover letter, and you also need some help to be able to figure out what type of cover letter is appropriate. I personally used a variety of different headings (e.g.: Corporate, Litigation, Corporate-Litigation, etc.). This is also the table that should keep track of any unique requirements that the firm has that others do not (for example - will accept online applications or viDesktop, etc.)

In my view, this table should have the following information:
-Law Firm
-Focus Areas (What does the firm do...Are they a full service firm? Labour boutique? Criminal defense?)
-Noted Things About Student Program (Mentors? Rotations? Training? Opportunities? This is to generate ideas for things you can talk about in your cover letter and ask about in interviews)
-Interested (I used this later to dismiss some firms that I wasn't sure if I would apply to or not)
-Salary (if given)
-List of Upper Year Courses (Yes/No)
-References (Yes/No/Indifferent/Unknown)
-Electronic Applications (Yes/No/Indifferent)

When you are filling out this table, your objective should be twofold. First, you want some concrete way of comparing firms - something that is hard for a law student to do. Second, you want to be able to make your drafting specific cover letters easier, and to give you a base to work from. You might only take quick notes here, that's fine, just make sure you have enough to work with.

I have Some Questions
Go on...

Question #1: How do I gather this information?
Answer #1: If your school has provided you with a list of firms, they may have provided you with some of this information. If your school is like U of T, they did not. In which case, you're going to need to type in the firm's name in Google, search for them, and begin pulling this information. Most firm websites have About Us Pages, Student Program Pages, and Partner Lists. Some firms make it easy for you by putting the contact person's information right in the student page, other firms do not.

Question #2: This seems like a lot of work, is this strictly speaking necessary?
Answer #2: it is a lot of work. However, the whole process is a lot of work, no matter how you slice it. You are talking about your career and your future. I suppose it's up to you how much time you want to invest in the process, but I believe this is the most efficient and thorough way of accumulating information and then utilizing that information.

Question #3: Why do I need the physical mailing address if I'm sending it electronically?
Answer #3: A couple reasons. First, a letter should always have the person's mailing information, even if you are delivering it electronically. Second, unless a firm tells you to exclusively use a given medium, I believe you should send both an electronic and a hard copy. Some things do not scan well (certain transcripts), and it is good to have certainty the application arrived.

Question #4: What is "cover letter type"?
Answer #4: Ah, excellent. So, cover letter type is basically a way of saving you time. The thing is, applications need to be customized to each firm, but it's completely unrealistic to write 30-40 different cover letters. The main reason why it would be bad to draft too many cover letters is the more cover letters you have, in addition to the time and effort it takes to do individual letters, there is a much greater likelihood of making errors because each letter is different. By using a template that is substantially the same for a number of firms, you cut down the number of letters you are sending out, which reduces the number of errors. However, you need to keep in mind that the cover letter templates still need to be customized, just not completely unique. By grouping firms into "classes", you save yourself some time.

Question #5: Could you give me an example?
Answer #5: Sure. Let's say we are doing a Litigation Cover Letter Template. You are going to want to put the mailing info at the top, both yours and the prospective firm, along with your salutation and re: line. When you get to the body of the letter, you are going to want to state what you're applying for, and then talk about yourself for a paragraph or two (depending on size). The point will be to highlight characteristics relevant to litigation, so maybe you highlight your mooting and advocacy, and talk about how your speaking skills. You don't need to be literal here, transferable skills certainly count. Almost everyone has experiences that can be useful, it's just a matter of the right framework. You then will have a paragraph talking about what intrigues you about the firm, what you like about their program, why them, and maybe even why that area of law - although hopefully you will have accomplished this last point in your previous paragraph.

The Second Step: Prepare your Materials
Once you have gathered the data that you require to draft your cover letters, you are going to want to begin the process of preparing your materials. Each application package you submit should eventually have the following:
-A Cover Letter Personalized to the Firm (Max 1 Page)
-A Resume (Max 2 Pages)
-Law School Transcript (Scan/Photocopy acceptable)
-Undergraduate Transcript (Scan/Photocopy acceptable)
-Course List (IF asked for)
-Reference (IF allowed/asked for/desired)

Cover Letter:
I began talking about the cover letter above, so there might be some duplicity here. Let me preface this by saying there are many ways to write a cover letter, and if you have your own style, feel free to use that. I am trying to give you an idea of how I write mine, and it's been fairly successful thus far, so if you want to borrow some of my ideas, feel free.

(My Legal Name)
(My Address)
(My City) (My Province)
(My Postal Code)


(Mr/Ms/Mrs) (First Name) (Last Name)
(Law Firm [Long Name])
(City) (Province)
(Postal Code)


Paragraph 1: This paragraph talks about my interest in a position with the firm, in your case, a summer position with them. I would mention you are currently entering your second year at whatever law school, and the standard "Please accept this (whatever is in the package) for your review" type line.

Paragraph 2: This is a paragraph where I talk about myself. I try and tie it into whatever type of cover letter template I'm working on. I have a couple different templates that emphasize different courses or experiences. The things you highlight for a criminal firm are not the same things that matter to a tax firm, so you need to keep that in mind. You may also want to keep in mind that as a general rule, things that can be summarized in point form in a resume (e.g.: your gpa) are not suited for a cover letter.

Paragraph 3: This is a paragraph where I talk about them. I try to discuss what it is about the firm that appeals to me, why I would want to work there, what I like about them. This is the paragraph where you get to show off that you have done your research, but ALSO that you identify with their philosophies and would fit in well in that environment. It is important to have this paragraph be customized to each firm, even if your other paragraphs are more general.

Paragraph 4: This paragraph is always a brief one basically concluding the cover letter, normally a maximum of two sentences.


(Line for Signing - always in blue, because on the original that you mail them, it will look more personal than black, which looks photocopied)
(Name Typed Under Signature Line)

There are about a million different ways that you can draft a resume, and I don't purport to have a monopoly on the right way to do this. There are some things you should keep in mind for a resume though:

Formatting: Perhaps the most important thing in a resume is the formatting you choose. It is important that a resume not be crowded, but at the same time contain all of the relevant work and educational experience you wish to bring to light. Poorly organized resumes are an excellent way to end up with your application tossed out. Personally, I like the major headings Education, Relevant Work Experience, Volunteer and Extracurricular Activities, Skills and Interests, but your mileage may vary depending on your background or preferences. Use bullet points, and be consistent about either period at end of bullets or no period.

Content: Your resume should be accurate and thorough. It should contain your address and contact information, as well as your undergraduate and law school education (and the expected degree completion date). Any awards, scholarships, or other achievements can be included here, including latin honours or dean's honour list. You may wish to have a separate scholarship section if you feel you have numerous awards, or you may not wish to take up valuable space if you have many accomplishments. Whatever you decide, your LSAT should not be found anywhere on your resume. Do not be afraid to have a couple elements on your resume that are not law related, particularly in the skills and interests section. They will stand out and make you be remembered, and they often serve as excellent ice breakers in interviews when you inevitably get asked about them. Whether it's a hobby or passion, it can be very useful.

Objective: The main objective with a resume is to highlight transferable skills. To that end, you want to make sure your resume contains plenty of action verbs (Analyzed / Applied / Evaluated / Drafted / Created / Authored / Developed). Try to avoid third person phrasing that minimizes your own importance, and if it is true, try to highlight something else. The point here is that I should be able to read your resume and think, "Hey, even though you were a Camp Counsellor, I can totally see how that would be relevant to my Mergers and Acquisitions Associate position I am looking to fill."

Precision: Make sure your resume has no errors. Spelling and grammar errors on a resume are completely inexcusable and show sloppiness. You will not get interviewed if you make mistakes here, and if you are not going to get interviewed, why bother going through this process?

You probably want to order your official transcript now if you have not done so already. You are also going to want to scan your transcript so that you can put it in your application package and include it with your application. Although some firms might require originals if you get a job offer, it's not going to be a requirement for applying... so save yourself the money. Just get one original and make copies. Firms will understand on this one.

Course List/References/Other:
Depending on what the firm wants, include (or do not include) these as required. There is no required formatting here, but you should try to be consistent look and feel as your resume and cover letter for your course list.

If you decide to include references, decide whether it is reference letters or simply names. Most people will not be including references at this stage, so you may not need them. Do not include references if a firm tells you they will not read them, you do not want to look like you did not pay attention to their materials.

Part Three: The Compilation
The third and final part of the process is actually compiling the application to be submitted. This can be an arduous process as well. It is advisable in my view, unless a firm tells you otherwise, to mail a copy of all applications, even those you send electronically.

Electronic Applications:
For applications you are planning to send electronically, you are going to want to make sure you you do several things.

First, you are going to want to scan a copy of your signature to put in your cover letter. This looks much more professional than simply leaving it blank.

Second, you are going to want to put the application package into a ".pdf". You do not want to send any applications in Word. The reason for this is that when you use Microsoft Word, the dimensions are tied to your printer settings. If you load someone's resume or cover letter into a different person's Word, you might end up with formatting errors. This looks unprofessional. A ".pdf" avoids these problems and pitfalls. You may want to include all of your application in one .pdf (Cover Letter, Resume, Transcripts, Course List [Where Needed]) to minimize the number of files a secretary needs to download and minimize the chance of a part of your application getting lost.

Third, you are going to need to develop an email message. It can be as simple as:
"Dear Mr. Smith,

Please accept this email and the attached application package for a 2013 Summer Position with (firm name).

Thank you.

(Your Name)"
Do not make spelling mistakes. Make sure the firm name is spelled correctly. Ensure that the subject of the email does not "Stikeman Elliot Application" and instead "(Position) - (Name) - Application

Fourth, and perhaps most important, if you are sending an application electronically, make sure you do not send it from an unprofessional email. This will reflect poorly on you and your judgement. School emails are ideal, but personal emails can be used if they are clean and professional (e.g.: your legal name).

Physical Applications:
For the applications you must mail, there are several decisions you must make:

First, do you have the right kind of paper? Make sure that you are printing your applications on high enough quality paper. You should select a slightly heavier than normal paper [22 or 24lb per 500 pages], and a high brightness (at least 96, but possibly 98). Your application will look much better, and frankly it's incredibly easy to do this. When you sign your printed cover letter, make sure you sign in blue for much the same reason.

Second, do you want to use full sized envelopes or smaller ones. I always used 8.5 by 11 envelopes to minimize the amount of folding I had to do, and save me time. I also felt it was easier to fit in an application package that would be several pages in size. You may also want to select self-sealing envelopes because it is easier when working with many documents.

Third, decide if you want to hand write or print your labels. I printed all mine, because I think it's quicker and looks better. If you're printing, I recommend using clear labels, for much the same reason. The one down side to printing is you need to make sure you put your labels on straight - this seems obvious, but somehow some people are just incapable of doing this correctly. If you're struggling, use a ruler (or any other flat object really) to line up the labels properly. Your return address label goes in the top left hand corner, the mailing address label goes in the center. They should be different sizes.

Four, place stamps on your envelopes. Make sure the appropriate number of stamps goes in the top right hand corner, and again, should be clean and precise.

Five, seal your applications after verifying the correct application is in the correct envelope.

Six, mail them.

Note: If you are applying through your school's courier service, you may not need to put them in envelopes or use stamps. Speak to your Career Development Office to find out what is required on this front.

As I did not use this program, I cannot offer any advice on this front.


That concludes "The OCI Process: Part 1 - The Application Process". I hope you found it helpful.
  • whereverjustice, cat87, Maven and 56 others like this

#384841 Not Entirely UselessJD - A Brief Retrospective

Posted by UselessJD on 06 April 2013 - 04:20 PM

I know this technically forbidden, as the mods gently brought to my attention some time ago that this is an environment of welcoming and I should just get the hell out of here, but being the paragons of moderation they are, I think they’ll understand the value in having me return and report on some of the welcome developments I’ve experienced since my previous screeds against all that was Law, so as to put matters into perspective.


I’m of course under no illusion about 99% of the readers of these forums caring one way or the other what I’ve been up to. They’re all off in their respective worlds of OCIs and LSATs and all the rest – I’m a blip to them, and that’s to be expected. But since my lurid narrative might be a bit of a magnet for persons seeking a factual basis their own struggles and anxieties about entering the legal profession, and this in turn could lead to unwarranted pessimism so long as they assume I’ve fallen off the face of the earth and become a boxcar hobo of some sort, I think I’d better chime in and provide some much-needed perspective on my situation.


Last year was rough, very rough. I did ultimately article without pay along with another recent grad. Other than the whole no-compensation thing, which was understandably tortuous as time dragged on and expenses continued to mount, I did at least have the benefit of getting the licensing process underway, and I made a couple of friends in the process, so it was hardly a wash, and I don’t regret it.


The real turnaround came a few months into my initial articling gig. Just as things were starting to look truly bleak and it appeared all but guaranteed that I’d be stuck in an unpaid position for the entirety of my ten-month term, I was offered a paid articling position. You know, like one that has an actual salary that significantly exceeds minimum wage. Nothing spectacular, of course, but enough to keep me from crashing into the pits of financial ruin, which is precisely where my previous unpaid trajectory would have eventually taken me.


As it happened, the other person I was articling with also ended up finding a nice paid position. So, despite utterly desperate circumstances, things have actually turned around for the both of us, at least for the time being, and I’m pretty thrilled about that.


The last thing I want to do is minimize the scope of the articling shortage, which I suspect is still very real, and, in all likelihood, even worse than it was last year, or give the impression that things will invariably work out in the long run for those who find themselves in dire straits. That would be fallacious. Things have worked out for me so far, but I’m not going to make the ludicrous “If I can do it, anybody can” claim based on nothing other than my own personal anecdotes.


All I’ll say is that, despite apparent hopelessness, despite a drought of calls and interviews, and a sinking feeling that things will never look up and each day is a slightly more miserable version of the one before it, the reality is they can actually change quite rapidly without warning. So, by all means, keep plugging away in the face of adversity. Even play the sympathy card if you have to (albeit within limits – no sobbing). Sooner or later somebody might respond to your plight, and all you need is that one offer to get back on your feet.


I know this may all seem trite and written from a position of semi-privilege, but people in the thick of law school despair need to understand, I felt wretched for years, with seemingly no hope that things would ever improve, but then they did. Sure, my long-term career is still in question, as is nearly everyone’s, but I’m going to be a frickin’ lawyer in a few months, and I’m actually making money for the first time in a long time, and that’s more than enough to satisfy me.


I have no grounds to rescind the warnings I made in the past about entering law school, other than to admit that they may have been a bit more histrionic than necessary, particularly as I've come to learn that legal work isn't all tortured drudgery and the hours aren't always excessive. At the very least, though, I can say that, if you’re in the latter parts of the law school pipeline and you’re terrified that you’ve made a tremendous mistake and have no future ahead of you – keep pushing. Things can change.

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#452788 Losing Motivation [Uriel = Boss]

Posted by Uriel on 23 March 2014 - 11:38 AM

I really appreciate the posts guys. I think I'm a little burnt out. I have worked really hard to get to where I am and at times I feel like I'm still not good enough. I think it comes with the territory of this profession and it being extremely competitive, at least in the early stage. I'm very grateful for the opportunities that I've been given, I hope it didn't sound like I'm not in my earlier post. Maybe it's a self confidence issue as well. I feel like when law school initially started, I was so enthusiastic and motivated and I think I've lost that 'spark'.

It's actually reassuring to know that I'm not alone in this and others have been in my shoes. I think I will get involved in something non-law related this summer. Maybe I'll join a volleyball team or something.



After you lock a job down, you wind up in a weird spot where you're no longer actively jumping through hoops --- often for the first time in your life.  Sure, there's hireback and partnership to worry about, but there's nothing you can do about that right now.  A lot of people feel like their lives have lost direction in 3L because, well, they have!  There's getting to be less and less you have to accomplish as you get closer and closer to your goal.  The goalposts will soon change, but that won't hit home for a while yet.


You're also going to have to prepare yourself for the real aimlessness that comes right after hireback.  When you get back from your vacation and get to work, you realize: hey.  I'm just... going to keep churning this work out... forever.  Maybe in eight years I'll make partner, but that's really just a change in pay.  Hm.


That's when highly motivated individuals hit a crisis point, and after about three years they start to defect in droves.  They're used to knowing where their lives are headed, how to get there, and what they need to be working on right now to get that done.  You're coming to the end of that rope.  The world's about to get a lot looser, a lot more unpredictable.  You might work at a big firm, then go in-house, then work for a regulator, then come back to a big firm as specialized counsel.  Maybe you'll be a deputy judge for a while and move to Calgary. 


School's over.  Life's about to happen, and it's a huge, complicated mess with no prerequisites or cutoff marks.  Some of your friends are going to go to big firms and you'll be envious of their huge salaries if they make partner early... but others will be in business and you'll be envious of their freedom and influence.  Others will work closer to the community and you'll be envious of how much they enjoy their work.  Others will work fewer hours and you'll be envious of their work/life balance. 


And you'll bounce around a couple of times to different jobs as you start to realize that 'prestige' isn't really a thing and you're going to have to decide what you want to accomplish and how you want to feel every day of your life before you die.  Those are huge questions, and they represent the exact opposite of a clear path.  Motivation is incredibly difficult when you don't know where you're going, where you even want to go, how to get there, and how you'll feel if you do.  For the first time ever, you make your own hoops.  And it takes an awful lot of courage to hang them wherever you want, instead of wherever you think they're supposed to go.


Of course all this comes with a serious blow to the self-esteem.  If you're not motivated to strive and accomplish, what are you doing?  Who are you?  Look at all these other people; they seem to know where they're going and what they're doing and are still churning away.  Why am I not keeping pace? 


Well, it might just be that reality is dawning on you a little sooner.  Fairly soon you'll see the end of all this ambition: the partner in the corner office with more money than Croesus, feared and respected within the firm and her niche practice of 80 other lawyers downtown... and that's it.  That's pretty much where it ends.  Some people also become frustrated, overworked judges labouring away harder than they did in practice for a third of the money.  You've never heard of any of these people and likely never will.  That's where this train goes. 


For some people, that's right where they want to be.  For most, as they approach the stop they forget why they were so interested in going.  Does that come with a heaping helping of insecurity, apprehension and lack of motivation?  Absolutely.  You're not alone.  It happens to all but the most blindered individuals eventually. You can't have strong self-esteem unless you're doing good work.  You can't do good work without motivation, and you can't be motivated if you're not sure what you're working for anymore. 


Maybe this doesn't describe you, but it happens often enough that I thought I'd take a stab at it.


On a completely different note, for 3L, maybe consider an academic pursuit.  I was a bit demotivated, so I took on a directed research project that I found totally fascinating.  At the end I had a fancy publication on my CV and I had a reason to get up in the morning.

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#363870 ...and I thought I had no hope-

Posted by Tankplank on 24 January 2013 - 01:32 PM

Hi everyone, I've been a long-time lurker on this forum.

I got my first offer of admission today and am very excite to share this. To be honest, I would not have come this far without consulting the tremendous amount of support and honest opinions on this forum. I'd like to thank many members and posters here for helping me to reach one of my life goals!


I'd like to share a bit of my life story. My journey to law school was not easy and pretty, but rather frustrating and devastating. If you are now standing where I was standing and if you are feeling the way I was feeling, I sincerely hope this gives you a small sense of encouragement.


I want to start this off by saying that it took me 8 years to finish my undergraduate study.

There was no excuse. I was a lousy student who loved partying a little too much. As a result, my GPA dropped to below 2.0, but somehow I managed to escape from being academically probated. I knew this was a serious problem, but did not give much attentions as I was totally in love with beers, girls, friends, partying, and so on. Seeing my third year grades, I told myself that shooting for law school was no longer a viable option and that I should consider a different path. (My overall percentage GPA came down to 60% by the end of my third year)


I took couple years off from the school and worked at a telemarketing firm. The work was not bad, but I knew I had no future at the job where I worked with high school students to make phone calls to random places to solicit about random things. I realized that I had to finish my undergraduate degree and aim higher.


I came back as a 4th year student with 60% written on my student record. Most of my partying friends were gone, but some were still lingering around, tempting me to fall back to the good old life style. I must admit. It was difficult to say NO. It was damn difficult to sit in the library at 9pm on Friday when everyone else was out there enjoying their time. But I stuck around and did the job I had to do.


I began to train myself to be diligent. I was always the first student to come to class and last one to leave the class. I literally devote my entire life to learning and getting good grades. My 4th year average turned out to be 82%. It wasn't a golden streak of A+s, but it still was a huge improvement from where I was. I remember crying like a big baby when I got my final grades back at the end of this year.


The next 2 years were nothing less than the previous year. I studied harder, learned to manage my time, and built meaningful relationships with professors (I had 6 professors who were willing to write me a good reference letter by the time of graduation).

I spent increasingly more time in school libraries and often took leadership for group work projects. My GPA for year 5 and 6 (which were each done with 10 half courses) were 87% and 94% respectively.


Until the very last month of my last year, I was fogetting about going to law school. I was just focused too much on doing well in school. I graduated and decided to take a year off to write LSAT and to get a part time job to pay my rent. I wrote my LSAT last June and got 162. I was satisfied. I got a job at the same telemarketing firm at which I used to work and they saw my undergrad degree and offered me a job in the managing office. And today, I saw another possibility of my life with the offer package from a law school.


I cried again like a little baby when I saw that package this morning and when I briefly told my manager at work about what happened. he told me that I have his permission to have an unscheduled long weekend to go and spread the good news to family and friends!


I just want to say this: DO NOT LOSE YOUR HOPE. Try your best and see where it gets you to. YOU are capable of doing it. A D- hardcore partier from the 1st year of university did this. After all, your effort won't betray you.


Please PM me if you have any specific quesitons regarding my undergrad studies, how I managed to do well in school, etc. I'll be more than happy to share more about my experience in detail.


Thanks for reading my post and I wish the best of luck to those who are considering applying to law school or who are waiting to hear back from schools!

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#168415 To the 1Ls, on the occasion of their first exams

Posted by Uriel on 05 November 2009 - 02:44 PM

I'll do my best to keep this from being a long and convoluted story, especially since I'm writing it by phone! What follows might be a bit syrupy, but I would have wanted to hear it last November, so here goes.

There are going to be a lot of people over the next month telling you not to stress out over your first exams: that they don't matter that much, that a bad mark is not the end of the world. Do me a favour. Listen to those people.

My first mark at law school was a big, stinky C. The mark itself looked and felt like an open wound from a shattered beer bottle. It was the only mark I had in my pocket as I went home for the December holidays. I got to listen to the lamentations of my classmates at the end-of-term party: "I feel so stupid! I've never had a B+ in my life!" "Well, at least it's not a C+, man, that would be a kick in the face." "Ha! Yeah, that's basically code for, 'get out of law school'."

It was humiliating, depressing, and stressful in the extreme. Questions started to float, especially as my exam marks started coming back with Bs --- and those were the good ones. Was it a huge mistake to come to law school? Should I ever have quit that great job? Am I really so much dumber than everyone else?

What I didn't realize at the time was that just like me, anyone else who went through the same thing was too humiliated to talk about it. But I wasn't alone, and these things do happen.

Now, for the point! Most of you will do beautifully, and rock the hell out of your exams. That's what curves do. Almost all of you will ride those exams like an insolent mule and stagger lopingly into the ruby sunset.

But for those of you that do start slow, like me, don't lose faith in yourselves. You got this far for a reason, and no one gets into law school that can't hack it. (Though whether they want to is another matter.) I promise, there really is such thing as a slow start, and you WILL get better. Looking back on my notes, I can actually see the transformation around Valentine's Day. You won't notice it happening, and you will probably still feel like you bombed your finals, but you'll actually learn a lot from your first term and turn out more awesome than you think.

I got the word yesterday; I'm off to my favourite firm on Bay Street. I would have never thought it was possible any time last year, in the pressure cooker that is 1L. So please, do your families and friends a favour in the slim chance you're a slow starter too --- don't beat yourself up. It gets better, a lot better, and in the big picture your first term marks often couldn't be more irrelevant. Really. No, really. Shut up. Really.

There's more than enough paranoia to go around in 1L, but the truth is you'll be exponentially better educated in April than you can be in December, and when it comes time to find work, people are going to hire you, not your transcript.

So, I suppose, I'm putting this up in case anyone feels like they've had a catastrophe in January, or after exams. If you can't find anyone to talk to anonymously, please do send me a PM. People can go from the bottom of the class to the top. I know many who did, and I'm one of them. I bombed my first term, bombed December, and came back with enough rocket power that I absolutely shocked myself when our grades came back. Now the sun's in the sky and I couldn't be happier.

So get out there and give 'em hell, 1Ls! You'll be amazing! And even in the off chance you're a little (or a lot!) less than stellar, trust me --- it's far from over, and the wide horizon is still swelling before you. Though you will feel like cat vomit ground into shag carpeting. That's just what's up, I'm not going to lie, but once you get over the shock, I swear: those exams have definitely not heard the last of you!
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#301874 Jd/mbs & Jd Student Financing 2012

Posted by Morgan on 07 February 2012 - 05:58 PM

Hi Ben,

Nice of you to join us on this site. Maybe not so wise you use your name in your signup e-mail and post from a Scotibank IP. We're not the biggest fans of the self promotion and misrepresenting who you are around these parts, so I'm going to remove your contact info but leave your post as a warning to anyone else who wants to do some shameless self promotion - please don't.
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#565835 Ryerson Law?

Posted by Uriel on 02 December 2015 - 12:25 PM

Man Operating Money-Making Thing Wants Thing To Make More Money


"Thing would make more money if it made more money": Man


Earlier today, a man operating a money-making thing indicated that he believed it would be good if that thing made more money.


"I think we can make the money-making thing make more money," said the man.  "I think the money-making thing could do things that other money-making things do to make money, to make money for the money-making thing.  We have several ideas as to how making our money-making thing make more money could make more money than the way other money-making things do money-making things to make money.  But we have to be sure the money-making thing is allowed to make money the same way other money-making things make their money, or else the money-making thing won't make the money other money-making things make."


The man talked to others involved in the money-making thing and saw how other money-making things made money.  They thought their money-making thing could make money the same way the other money-making things made money.  In fact, the money-making thing is already making money in kind of the same way other money-making things make money.


There is a problem though.  The money-making thing is making so much money that it is out of room to make money in.


The money-making thing will have to find a place to make its money in.


And it will have to be allowed to make the money.


Or it won't make the money.

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#645102 Mafia Legal Recruitment 2017

Posted by Lawl on 13 March 2017 - 03:57 PM

Honestly, what kind of self-respecting mafia outfit makes you an offer you can refuse?

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#369749 social inadequacy

Posted by Diplock on 15 February 2013 - 04:24 PM

Ah man.  I really wish I had more time to reply fully, but as an initial contribution let me point out this is really two topics.  It's amazing how often that's the case, btw, and teasing apart the elements of a complex situation is a huge part of solving it.  Your two topics are:


1. You are feeling the class distinction in law school.


2. You are feeling inadequate and uncomfortable.


Folks are very reasonably trying to address the second issue here.  But before I get to that (and echo some advice) let me point out that you are making the second problem worse by associating it with the first.  Your class background is not a problem.  It's part of who you are.  And it also isn't going to change. So if you think you are awkward and uncomfortable only because of your class background you'll give yourself the idea this can't change either.  But it can.  The two are only tangentially related.  You can be confident as hell from any background.  And even otherwise privileged people can feel inadequate or find reasons to be uncomfortable socially - either imagined reasons or real barriers. See the thread on "fat acceptance" for one discussion of how body image might limit your prospects both subjectively and objectively.  That's true no matter your class background.


So first, on class.  FUCK YES there's a class element to law school.  And you are right you probably dodged the worst of it if you aren't at U of T.  Not sure about Osgoode, but at U of T it constantly seemed like two thirds of my classmates were from wealth.  There were many children of judges, politicians, and lesser known but highly successful professionals.  I'm not one of them.  And I could go on at length about what I think it says about our society when we tell ourselves that we live in a meritocracy and yet "merit" just happens to run so strongly in certain families.  Fuck that.  I went into law school with a chip on my shoulder and I left with one too.  I wear it quietly, most times.  But I never forget about it.


Here's the thing.  Your class background doesn't make you less worthy of being where you are.  It makes you more worthy.  Merit isn't genetic.  And if anyone thinks that it is, you can refer them to Mein Kampf for a little light reading.  The reason that children of privileged families are so common in law school is that money can buy opportunity.  It pays for tutors and exclusive summer camps and enables those students to take up unpaid but prestigious internships and it makes connections in innumerable ways.  I'm not trying to hate on the people who've enjoyed those things.  But let's be real, okay?  Between the successful student who enjoyed all those advantages and got where you are and the student such as yourself who did it the hard way ... which is likely to have more natural talent?


So I'll give you the short version of my advice.  Wear it.  Own it.  Be fucking God damn proud of it.  The next time that douchebag in your class wants to talk about summering in the Hamptons, talk about how you had your first real job at 15 and used the money you made to buy a decent saxophone so you could play in your school's band.  Or whatever the hell.  Tell the truth - I'm just assuming you've got that truth there somewhere.  Talk about your hardworking parent(s) and how proud they are of you.  And if they are ever around, introduce them for who they are and don't for an instant be embarrassed of them.


There are two narratives available to you, when you come from the lower classes.  One is that you don't really belong and that you'll never get it.  The other is that you are naturally better than everyone else around you, that you've earned what someone else gave to them, and that you'll probably go farther in life.  It's Barak Obama vs. Mitt Romney.  And I'm not suggesting you rub everyone's face in it and be a douchebag in return.  But if you're simply honest about where you come from and stop making efforts to hide it ... they'll get the point.  They might even start to feel inadequate around you in some ways.


Now the other half of this equation is that you need to carry it off.  Yes, you need to learn how to dress well and do it in a way you can afford.  You need to learn how to be natural at a nice restaurant.  And other things beside.  Definitely seek out opportunities to learn those things.  If you want to be the kid-from-nothing-made-good you need to actually pick up the tricks.  But you can do that.  You're already asking the right questions.  There's good info here.  And the suggestion that you seek out a mentor, if you can get one, is good.  But learning the tricks is the easy part.  The rest ... it's how you feel.


That's the best I can offer.  Self-assurance isn't easy to come by, but most of those people who seem to have it naturally ... what they really have is unnatural self-assurance.  They've been taught to walk and think and act like they are God's gift to the fucking world because they come from privileged families who made sure that they "won" at the game of life at every turn by rigging the game in their favor.  Of course they're confident.  They have every reason to be.  But it's false confidence, in a large number of cases.  And sooner or later they'll learn as much.  I'm not suggesting you emulate that error.  Don't adopt false confidence in return.  But realize, at least, you are every bit as entitled to be confident with where you are.  More than the average student around you.  Wear it as well as you can.  And then when you get home at night ... work like you've got something to prove.  Because you do.  And you have already.  And don't ever let those fuckers take that away from you.


Edit:  Reviewed for spelling and added "fuck" a few extra times.  Just watched "Scent of a Woman" btw.  Movie that bears rewatching.  I'm probably channeling that a bit as I write.

#347976 Oh my God I'm Doing Interviews, Help

Posted by Uriel on 31 October 2012 - 05:17 PM

Just got even more interview assignments. This is so bizarre. I wound up taking over the office of the guy that interviewed me for this job, so now I'm even going to literally be on the other side of the desk.

At least now I have something to back up my frequent assertion that there are no "magic answers" in interview questions. I don't even know what I'm supposed to be asking.

Here are my draft questions so far:

1. Are you Cornelius? (Note: Do not ask unless candidate is named Cornelius)
2. I see from your transcripts that you are interested in law. How did that affect your choice to apply here?
3. Your B+s and As do not appear to be in any particular order on your transcripts. Do you normally make submissions in just whatever order, or was it just this firm that you didn't bother organizing yourself for?
4. I see here that you have a lot of volunteer experience, but I note also that you put it on your resume, so you didn't really do this out of the goodness of your heart, did you?
5. Do you want to be a lawyer out of some personal moral failing, or is it just that you've badly misapprehended what we do here?
6. How much student debt are you carrying right now, straight up?
7. I see you are interested in our firm's [practice area]. We've abolished that. So.
8. Do you like my bird?
9. So why should I hire you and not your friend Jess? [Whirl monitor around, revealing applicant's Facebook page]
10. Why did you outline your projected courses but not your projected grades for those courses? I mean, what am I supposed to be going on here?

I think those chipper little icebreakers will be key to getting the interview off on the right foot.
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#633819 Litigation When Your Grades Aren't Exceptional

Posted by Uriel on 19 January 2017 - 01:52 PM

Hi all,


I've had this question a few times over the years and just received another PM on the subject.  I feel like I finally phrased my response the way I've been trying to get it, so I thought I'd share.


In short, I frequently hear from students that had been dead-set on litigation but have found themselves as something less than "A" students.  Accordingly, they're convinced that they're not good enough to go out in the real world and win cases against their elite comrades.


This is 80-grade poppycock, so the below is my attempt to depoppicockify the atmosphere here in the period just after 1L grades have come out.


Happy to answer questions as always.


* * * * * * * * 


Doing well on a law school exam has only a tangential relationship to doing well on a case.  There's a reason so many exceptional students aren't still in practice after five years; it's a different skill set and sometimes they really suck at it, or just find they don't enjoy it as much as they enjoyed the pure intellectual exercise in an academic atmosphere.  Some of your classmates with "A" averages are using other people's maps and just improvising.  They might not be hard workers.  They might not be detail-oriented.  Often, they prove to be quick-witted but negligent or distracted in practice.  Sometimes they really are superhuman.  But you'll go up against an ubermensch maybe once every couple of years.


Being a good litigator requires an awful lot of different things.  You have to conduct a thorough and perceptive investigation of the facts; they aren't just given to you in question format.  You have to develop a strong relationship with your client or else your access to information and prompt instructions is handicapped.  You have to be able to play intelligently and strategically with the Rules of Civil Procedure, which again is not laid out like a law school exam --- it requires a lot of creative thinking that isn't reflected in your grades.  


And then you have to be an excellent and reasonable negotiator.  90% of cases settle.  In my experience, intellectually arrogant lawyers do a brutal job for their clients and often wind up having to explain why they passed over an offer of $300,000 in a case they ultimately lost with a $70,000 costs award.  They believe they're right, and that a judge will necessarily agree; but there's a lot that goes on between the concept in a young lawyer's brain and the keystroke of an experienced jurist.


Winning trials and motions --- the actual combat of litigation --- is actually a comparatively small part of the job.  And even then, the scales are never balanced.  A superior lawyer might turn a 30%-chance-of-victory case into a 45%-chance-of-victory case, but they still aren't likely to beat a mediocre lawyer with the facts and/or law on their side.  


Any competent litigator --- and most are perfectly competent --- has a strong possibility of success in a good case.  And that's the way it should be.  A terrible lawyer can really screw his client over, but in general competent counsel will ensure your case is properly heard and determined on its merits.  A litigator's job is rarely to win a 50/50 trial against an opponent.  The goal 100% of the time is to get the best possible deal for your client, and sometimes that's a good plea bargain or a mediated settlement.  Sometimes it's a loss at trial but a win on a key issue that might be the most expensive claim, or the charge that carries the most severe sentence.  No one keeps track of their wins and losses because it's irrelevant to measuring your success.  


As an example, my "best" win at one of my own trials --- the one where I feel like my lawyering made the biggest difference in the result --- was facing a $50,000 claim that I should have lost, and losing only $2,500.  I actually stopped to take a picture on my way out of the courtroom.  But the decision says, "judgment for the plaintiff".  My greatest individual success was a loss.  My client could not have been happier.  So even if you could weigh one lawyer against another intellectually at trial, the court won't decide that question --- the "winner" might not even have "won"!


Really, asking if you can hang in litigation against a gold medalist is like asking which of two boxers will have higher career wins: Boxer A or Boxer B.  And all you know is that Boxer A has a faster jab.  You can't just capitulate at that point as Boxer B.  Okay, so you're better at one aspect of a multidimensional confrontation.  But how's your cardio?  How's your footwork?  How often will you fight?  Can you punch for power?  Do you have the reflexes to duck?  


I go up against "smarter" people with better credentials all the time and "win" about half the time, maybe because I'm a better oral advocate; or because I've taken the time to speak to witnesses and to have better evidence; or because I drew the right judge; or because their windy, overblown argument was less compelling than, "Whatever, your Honour, they've got our money so what's this Court going to do about it?"


By the same token, I've had some junky cases or hastily prepared cases or complex cases that I've lost dreadfully to some, uh, let's say "physically present individuals" for the same reasons.


There's no such thing as "just plain smarter"; and even if there were, its sole measure would not be a law school exam.  


Instead, litigation is a multidisciplinary exercise that requires a well-rounded individual with the creativity, social grace, integrity, intellectual curiosity, attention to detail, diligence, perception, emotional intelligence, presentation skills, literary aptitude, intellectual prowess, intellectual honesty, intuition, negotiation skill and business savvy necessary to succeed.  If we were to take an average score of all those skills and weight them for relative importance (and "intellectual prowess" would not be the heaviest weight), would your average score be drastically lower than your gold medalist's?


You can't know.  Maybe!  But it's nothing short of intentional self-deprecation to make that your assumption.


(And, for whatever it might be worth in your assessment of success, the smartest lawyers are very rarely the richest ones.)

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#526309 Predict your admission chances (and calculate your OLSAS cGPA if you don'...

Posted by Ryn on 12 April 2015 - 05:54 AM

Hey everyone. So I've only been a member here for a couple of weeks, but I've been regularly lurking for over two years. I've always been fascinated by the different law schools and their admission practices. Since admissions committees are sort of a "black box", the only way we can glimpse the inside of that machine is to look at the stats posted by fellow applicants and see if a pattern can be found. That's sort of what I tried to do and I created a system that will try and predict your chances for admission at a select number of law schools based on your cGPA and LSAT scores. I figured all of you may be interested in this little web app.


If you want to try it out, you can go to straight to it here (it's just a web page where you fill stuff in; no downloading anything). I figure I would also share some information about how I made it and some discoveries I made about the schools in general.



How It Works


Before I start, I should mention that I only did this for Ontario schools. I do plan on taking a look at other schools eventually.


First, I collected accepted/rejected data for the Ontario schools from forum posts made here between 2010 and today. I discarded non-general applicants, responses that did not have both cGPA and LSAT, responses that only cited B2/L2/B3/L3, responses not on a 4.0 scale, and responses where the poster indicated he/she wasn't 100% sure of their score or cGPA. This left me with a nice chunk of data, with roughly 110-120 responses for each individual school. I ran a correlation test between cGPA, LSAT, and Acceptance and made sure the results were statistically significant (p <= .10 is what I used). It was at this point that I had to throw out Lakehead University and University of Windsor because neither one had significant correlations. For Lakehead it was because the sample size was too small (only a couple of years worth of data and not many people have posted their stats). For Windsor I had a lot of data, but it didn't matter; I have to assume this is because there is another major factor playing a role in acceptances at Windsor (they are, after all, the most "holistic" of the schools).


Once I confirmed that there was a correlation between cGPA, LSAT, and Acceptance, I ran a multiple linear regression and came up with equations that allowed me to plug in cGPA and LSAT in order to come up with a probability of acceptance. 


I also was able to find the cutoff LSAT and cGPA numbers for each school. After this cutoff point, the probability of being accepted falls drastically and lends any predictive algorithm to experience false positives. This is why, on the app that I wrote, the acceptance probability will be flagged if the LSAT and cGPA fall below the cutoff points. This doesn't mean the probability is super incorrect, but it does mean that it should be kept in mind while reading the results.


Finally, I was able to discover just how much factors other than cGPA and LSAT affect the odds of admission. Since the model only explains a certain percentage of cGPA and LSAT on the effect on Acceptance, the rest of it must be influenced by things like personal statements, letters of recommendation, or extracurriculars. This could be slightly misleading, though, as some schools don't use cGPA as the sole determinant for grades; in those cases, things like L2 or B2 may have an effect here. 



What I Found


The numbers are interesting for sure. Here's what I've discovered for each particular school:

  • Queens - Queens places a huge emphasis on cGPA and having a higher average will significantly increase the odds of acceptance. 
  • Ottawa - Ottawa only cares about cGPA. In fact, LSAT had a statistically insignificant correlation with Acceptance given the dataset. They also appear to put a huge weight on softs.
  • Toronto - Toronto has (predictably) the highest cutoffs, with LSAT and cGPA having essentially equal weight. The "other factors" percent is high, but it's likely because Toronto cares a lot about L2.
  • Western - Western is a straight-up LSAT school, with the majority of the Acceptance rate being explained by the LSAT score. Soft factors also appear to matter the least at Western when compared to other schools.
  • Osgoode - cGPA is the most important here, though LSAT also plays a (minor) role. Soft factors make up less than half of an admissions decision.


Limitations of the Model


Because of the nature of linear regression, the model will yield high probability for situations where there's a huge divergence between LSAT and cGPA. For example, a cGPA of 4.0 and an LSAT of 150 will assume a 66% acceptance at Osgoode. This is likely very difficult to accomplish (which is why the cutoff values are so important to consider). Conversely, a cGPA of 2.5 and an LSAT of 180 predicts 96% acceptance to Queen's and 98% acceptance to Western -- also an impossible scenario. Unrealistic outliers such as these should be assumed to yield invalid predictions.


Also, if a school has a focus on L2 or B2, this model would not be able to explain that relationship (instead making it appear as an "other factor"). I do plan on recording this data at some point and see if I can build a model.



cGPA Calculator


I've also included a tool to calculate your OLSAS cGPA (along with L2, L3, B2, and B3 scores), depending on your school. All you have to do is fill in your courses and your marks and it will do all of the math for you and calculate it according to the conversion table. I figure it's a bit useful since I've seen some posts on here where people had trouble figuring it out.



Here's the link to the web app. Any thoughts/comments are of course appreciated. My inspiration for making this is purely to satisfy my own curiosity but I thought it may be of some interest to everyone here. Enjoy :)

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#372474 Law school and your SO

Posted by Zangief on 25 February 2013 - 01:54 PM

Law school was pretty rough on my relationship; the first year anyway. He just didn't understand why I was leaving regularly in the morning and coming back at night, if I ever came back at all. It'd be nothing but yapping and noise and bullshit as soon as I walked through the door. This got a bit better in second and third year once I got to set my own schedule, though OCIs and articling interview weeks were nasty again. I found that putting a little bit extra dry food in his bowl before I left for the day - just in case I didn't make it back at a normal time - helped though. Don't give too much wet food though, it dries up and gets nasty if it's not eaten pretty quick. Neighbours and family can help in a pinch, too.

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#308452 What lawyers actually do day-to-day: CYOA

Posted by Hegdis on 13 March 2012 - 01:56 PM


You are a criminal defence lawyer.

It is Monday. You get up, drink your coffee, and then register nothing else until about 10:15am. By this time you are in court, although hopefully you haven't had to say anything yet. You come to, dressed in a suit, carrying your briefcase, in front of the giant list on the courthouse wall that (hopefully) contains your client's name, somewhere. While you are looking for this, colleagues passing by helpfully point out things you have forgotten / done wrong / would rather they not notice ("Hey, pink socks! Nice!") ("Aren't you supposed to be in 514? They've been paging you.")

You get into the elevator, hit 5, and wait while the entire Crown office come in with at least two of those massive file trollys, followed by the three or four defence lawyers who "just want a word" about one of the Crown's 900 files, everyone due in court in the next two minutes. You end up standing next to the guy who hasn't showered in two weeks and looks like he's halfway to Neverland. You nod across the elevator at the shellshocked articled student who has been wedged into the far corner and has missed their floor.

You extract yourself and head down to 514, where you look around for your client.

If your client is present, flip to page 12.

if your client is not present, flip to page 27.
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#604791 Why are people still applying to law school today?

Posted by beyondsection17 on 18 June 2016 - 08:07 AM

Maybe some of the people who go to law school actually want to be lawyers? Like... they want to practice law? Just a hunch.

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#589556 Okay, Enough is Enough

Posted by Diplock on 01 April 2016 - 09:40 AM

Look. I love this site. I think it serves an incredibly important purpose, and it helps a lot of people, and I've certainly both benefited from and contributed to it over quite a number of years. So I've been extremely reluctant to kick over the anthill. But at some point things just get fucking ridiculous. And we've reached that point.

Some may have noticed that my participation here is really on-again off-again, depending. That isn't a fluke. I participate a lot when people aren't screwing with me, but very little when they are. See, I have a tendency to ... well, point out that people are fucking idiots when they are fucking idiots. Okay, not my most admirable quality. Probably I should just say that their judgment is impaired by reason of defects in personality and intellect that are beyond their control and therefore not particularly blameworthy ... but whatever. Sometimes I go a little too far, at least in the opinion of the mods around here. And that's when things get surreal.

So for literally years now, any time so modidiot gets the idea that I've stepped out of line, I get this insane order that I need to run literally everything past the mod team before I'm allowed to post it. Everything. Hasn't happened for a while. At least not until that articling student with their oh-so-compelling concerns about workplace harassment and the ESA and getting yelled at once for screwing up ... opp! Another idiot that needs to be called an idiot. And I'm back in the dog house.

Well, enough is enough. I'm not screening my shit for another three months on this site. So here's what you all need to know that you don't already:

1. An unknown number of people are subjected to constant and frankly insane standards of moderation. I don't even know who and how much, because we're not allowed to talk about it. Yeah, good job you crack team of legal professionals. There's more due process oversight in your average banana republic.

2. The only moderator who makes a damn bit of sense is Hegdis. He goes to bat for me, I know. May have to be part of the solution. Read below.

3. Morgan makes an insane amount of money off this site. Very few people know about this. It isn't off advertising. It's that this site generates so much traffic and so many hits that all kinds of searches for legal help redirect here. When that happens, a system directs those referrals to practicing lawyers who then kick back a referral fee to Morgan. And you know what? Because he's a lawyer it's even fucking legal. Lawyers can pay a referral to other lawyers.

4. This post is probably going to exist for like five minutes, so save it and distribute it as fast as you can. Folks need to know.

Despite my style, I'm not normally one to call for revolution or suggest that you rise up in the cafeteria and stab them with your plastic forks. But something needs to give. We need an honest, functioning community where we can call it like it is (idiots do need to know they are fucking idiots!) and I don't think this place can be it anymore. I know Hegdis has a back up plan. Is supposed to be secret, but [MOD EDIT].

Peace ya'll. And as YB recently suggested, I'll combine my catch phrases finally.

Hope this helps you to all go fuck yourselves.
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#534643 BA GPA 51%, MA GPA 77% + LSAT 58% = Forget Canada?

Posted by kcraigsejong on 21 May 2015 - 04:50 PM

I start articles on Monday. Thank you all for your guidance. Follow your dreams.

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