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Uriel

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Uriel last won the day on November 13

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  1. Making mistakes

    All right. Never mind.
  2. Making mistakes

    One thing I've learned in the last few years is that the scale of errors goes up as you get more senior. I've been in a few situations now where we've had to settle confidentially with other Bay Street counsel that have done something horrifically wrong. Just because you don't hear about it in the news doesn't mean that Superfirm X doesn't make huge mistakes from time to time. It just means that they've handled those errors professionally, and that they were comparatively easy to resolve (if not to fix).
  3. Making mistakes

    I guess we have different definitions of "a lot". I would count those as "a lot". My assumption is that most mistakes that concern new calls are corrigible, relatively minor issues. Improper decisions in terms of productions and discovery. Inaccurate statements in a factum or misstatements of fact in a demand letter stink, but they're not going to lead to lawsuits unless they're committed in bulk. Getting a factum 90% perfect isn't going to lead to a Law Society complaint. It's going to lead to a contested hearing. (Unless, as you say, the missing 10% is the key issue.) Certainly I don't mean to suggest that it takes more than one massive error to get sued. No one's doubting that just one measly little money laundering transaction is still going to be disbarment and charges.
  4. @benjuryon had a great idea in another thread. We often talk around here as though we're infallible and we know the answers to every question, when in fact we just don't make rookie mistakes anymore --- we've moved on to a whole different level of mistakes. As we all know, law school and articling are pretty good at hammering into your head that perfection is expected and mistakes are unacceptable. So maybe it would be good for everyone if we occasionally updated a list of screwups and faceplants to remind everyone still working through student-and-new-call jitters that although the standards of the profession are very high, your accidental Reply All is not really the end of the world. I'll go first, with a few of my memorable screwups from my first couple of years: (Summer) I was asked to put together a big book of documents with tabs and an index. The partner on the file brought me in for a conference call with the client. He told the client I was working on an affidavit of documents. I pulled him aside to tell him that I wasn't, and this was the first I was hearing about it. He was furious. Client was incredulous. The next day I realized that "affidavit of documents" was the technical term for the book I was assigned. It was actually already finished. (Articling) Sent a litigation brief binder to all the executives of a major client, but accidentally included a tab full of markup and brutally frank notes instead of the finished product. (1st year) A witness was near tears during her cross-examination by opposing counsel. During a break I told her she was doing great, and that one answer in particular was really strong and helpful. As soon as the cross started back up I realized that was witness tampering and felt immediately sick. I ran to my articling principal after the cross to spill the beans. She asked if that issue ever arose again on the examination, and the answer was no. "So there was no effect? It couldn't have influenced any more answers?" "No, the rest of the examination was about something totally different." "Okay. Don't do it again, but in the meantime, chill, dude."
  5. Making mistakes

    +1, gold star advice Part of the problem of being a junior is that you're too inexperienced to see that your bosses are fallible. At this stage, I can finally see the cracks in our superstars' trial strategies and disagree with them about the best approach. And when it blows up in their faces, I can bite back an I-told-you-so. So you might feel like you're unique in making mistakes and that someday you'll stop, but that's just not the case. Plus, after a few years you'll go up against some spectacularly awful senior counsel. That really helps the ol' confidence. Heck, if he survived 30 years in this business and I can beat him easily, how bad can I be? Your mistakes at this stage are going to be obvious: putting the wrong case in the book of authorities and blowing filing deadlines. In 10 years, your mistakes are going to be more strategic things, like declining to cross-examine someone or letting an obscure statutory limitation period pass. We all make mistakes, constantly. Ideally they're small, inconsequential, or at least remediable. But that's part of the chess game of litigation. When you're a junior you take it really hard. Oh man, I lost that pawn! Aw, now their bishop is all over the place. Stupid me! After a few years, you kick yourself for a day or two and then reassess the board position. If no one made mistakes, litigation would be so predictable that lawyers would be obsolete and insurance adjusters would run everything. It helps sometimes to imagine yourself in the other party's shoes. How much hay can they reasonably make out of your mistake? If (as is usually the case), they can at best write a gripe into a semicolon paragraph: "failed to respond to two undertakings; filed their amended notice of motion a day late; declined to respond to questions about...", then it hurts your ego a lot more than it hurts the client's position. While this is a fun saying, and reflective of the exacting standards to which we'll be held, I'm just going to flag the fact that you don't need to worry about being sued over every misstep. It takes an awful lot for something to go beyond an angry client into professional liability. Before long, your main gripe will be that people aren't sued for malpractice enough. That's not a bad idea at all. We do tend to talk like we've got it all figured out over here when we're really just screwing up on another level. Most recently, I tried to get creative and live out the Hryniak philosophy of simplifying proceedings by filing just a Notice of Motion. No motion record. It was a straight up-and-down, "look at this thing, Your Honour, do you think it's an X or a Y?" I made sure to seek relief from filing a motion record in the Notice and cited the Rule allowing me to do so. Good job, me! Boy, I bet the judge will appreciate not having to do a lot of unnecessary reading before this motion. Opposing counsel, too! What a hero I am. Did not compute at the court office. Buried in the practice direction somewhere (still haven't found where) is a direction that purportedly supersedes the Rules and has the effect of nullifying the ability to seek relief from filing a motion record. Lost my motion date. Had to throw myself on the mercy of the court office in the most undignified way to restore it. Grateful that they were sufficiently disgusted with my self-debasement to put me back on the list. Then the judge kicked my ass for filing materials late. Lessons learned: Do not cut corners with the court office, they do not have time to appreciate your creativity or interpret SCC jurisprudence. Their jobs are hard enough already. Just do things by the book. If you want to just file a Notice of Motion, slap on covers saying "Motion Record" or else you'll lose your motion date. If you absolutely have to try something creative, go file it yourself or send another lawyer.
  6. Suits for Women

    Sorry to interrupt; it just occurred to me that you guys might have the answer to a question I've been asking for a few months. Does anyone know the best place to get women's shirts/blouses made-to-measure in Toronto? Or good custom tailors for women generally?
  7. Got to face it, that's the case. We let that get a little out of hand. Come on, you big lugs, let's dial it back.
  8. Not at anyplace worth going. If you happen to be the candidate I saw Monday morning, I can say for sure it did not. You were great.
  9. One more thing to add --- this reminded me that your practice can also dictate your fashion options and branding. An M&A partner probably needs to spend five figures on a watch. Most opt for Rolex or Omega, a few Hublot guys up in here (though if you're going to spend on a Big Bang, just have some integrity and shell out for an Audemars Royal Oak imo), but if it were me I'd go with the JLC Master Ultra Thin Professional but that's just me never mind moving on (Okay but before I go my senior-partner gift to myself would be the Lange & Sohne Pour le Mérite tourbillon just had to put that out there) A litigator typically makes the best impression looking not unlike a hitman or Secret Service agent. When I have to ruffle some feathers, it's usually a plain navy two- or three-piece, white shirt, thick red tie, white pocket square. When I'm executing a search warrant, I take some inspiration from Bonds past and present and keep it dour. (Artist's rendition.) I'll fancy it up a bit, but not too much for conferences and business development. I take it down a notch from showy both due to the high-stakes nature of my work and my less-than-ostentatious personality; the man has to wear the suit and not vice-versa. (I have to say, I'm impressed with the way Radcliffe is growing up to be as awesome as me.) By the same token, IP lawyers are usually jazzing it up for their tech clients and wealthy pharma executives. Fashion, sports and entertainment lawyers obviously have to be killing it because their clients require everyone associated with them to be ballers. And senior tax lawyers have to wear bow ties. It's like how Jedi masters eventually turn into blue ghosts, tax lawyers eventually grow mustaches and wear bow ties once they've transcended to a new plane of giving summary advice off the top of their heads. I know you're joking, but just to hyper-reiterate --- no one (well, not my firm anyway) is going to not hire someone because of a poor fashion decision. It's a super easy thing to coach and for all kinds of reasons, not least of all retention, you should want to hire people that don't come from money and privilege and naturally know what's in and out. A couple of years ago we gave a strong push to a guy in an olive suit with black belt and shoes. He was a good kid, a great student and fun to interview. He wound up going somewhere else, but the incomprehensible wardrobe choice wasn't a factor. It would take about ten minutes with a mentor to get that cleared up, which is nothing when you think you might get 20 years out of a guy. We actually did hire someone that seemed to cut his hair with pinking shears, among other wardrobe atrocities. (And I don't mean "wore a shawl lapel"; I mean you-have-to-help-your-buddy-or-he'll-never-get-a-date atrocities.) It turned out to be part of a pattern of being unwilling to take feedback and advice and ultimately he didn't make the cut, so to speak.
  10. Upon further reflection, I'd open this one up to the floor. What do you think, folks? Can you ask a recruiter to give you a letter of recommendation? I'm coming around to the view that maybe that's not the best approach, since we don't actually know if you're any good; we were in the position of needing a letter of reference from you a week ago. Certainly they could attest to the fact that you were an attractive candidate, but I wonder if that's sufficient to ground a recommendation. What say you, internet friends? As for the last comment, I'd lean towards the latter. It may be true, but it's likely that if they need more help they would rely on the articling recruit. They might be in touch with you then, of course, to see if you're still available, but it would probably be more of an invitation to reapply as a candidate that's already well thought-of, rather than just being appointed to a position.
  11. Right. Ditto the guy that comes in with a burgundy suit, no matter how flattering. I don't think we disagree.
  12. The emotional side takes the most development for sure. I remember the pressure that came with going to a restaurant with $25 entrees, like, is this going to get out of control? In terms of etiquette, though, the standards are really quite low. This isn't Eton. There are American partners that eat almost exclusively with their right hand and senior associates who attack their chicken vertically with their fork and jigsaw around the puncture wound. There's almost no one down here that knows how to eat soup "properly". I think, though, that people have a strong sense that they're being judged and that there's an unspoken code being enforced just because everything looks so fancy and there feels like there's a lot of pressure in the air. Truthfully, though, it just seems that way because everything is expensive and everyone is well dressed. Most of them are just fumbling around their plates, unconcerned about the niceties of where one's finger bowl ought to be placed. (There's never actually a finger bowl.) I very often go to galas where we share a laugh over people fighting over whose bread plate is whose. I've often had conversations where someone at the table, partners included, are good-naturedly musing about how to eat shell-on shrimp. Canada's quite egalitarian that way; we don't have a lot of inherited wealth, or at least a class system arising out of it. A lot of our powerful partners and CEOs grew up middle-class and don't know much about fashion or etiquette. You can survive just by keeping things tidy. Napkin in the lap. Use utensils from the outside in. Your glasses are on your right and your bread plate is on your left. Big spoon soup, little spoon dessert. Try not to go above 45 degrees with the fork and knife if possible. Rip the bread apart with your hands and cut yourself a little slice of butter with a clean knife, put the butter on the plate, then spread the butter on the bread. Put the fork and knife together on the plate at 4:00 when you're done and fold the napkin next to it. I think anyone that follows those guidelines is going to be 100% fine. If it's really stressing you out, especially if you come from a background where forks and knives are not commonly used, it might be time for some mentorship. Ask a friend that "gets it" to lunch with you a couple of times. If you don't know anyone, reach out to your CDO or someone senior like an old professor or advisor you might trust. Heck, I've gone for lunch with two students through this website that wanted some help sorting out how to survive the dinner portion of interviews and they were just fine. It develops. We've got a few associates in my hallway that wear grey or black dresses under a blazer. Totally normal, totally appropriate. Given time, they might develop a look like the partner down the hall that seems to prefer plain monotone dresses and statement glasses and jewelry with a funky haircut. Or they might take after one our rainmakers, crushing down the hall in something like this. Same thing with the men. We all start with the navy and charcoal, then usually branch out into a light blue or light grey or a pinstripe, and then after a few years those of us that have an interest will have the income to look at more fun socks, a broader collection of pocket squares... or even watches.
  13. Again, this can be firm-specific. There are certainly female partners here that wear dresses every day and still look deadly professional. And a couple of rock stars that don't look like they're Partnors on Bay Street at all. Just like I was saying above, as long as you look like you've got yourself put together, your brand can be whatever you like. That's not a bad idea, actually. I'm not sure I'd ask right away since she's still probably leaving work early to shotgun Stranger Things and plow through a bag of Lay's five nights in a row just to recover from all the stress, but you might want to gently float the idea that you might ask later next year.
  14. I hadn't thought about it that way. I guess I'm a little tied up between the directive that it's inappropriate to comment on the length of a woman's skirt or the amount of makeup she wears, or whether or not her dresses are office-appropriate and the directive that we have to be presentable to clients. You might be right; maybe I'm interpreting the concern of experts as mean-spirited when it might be well-intentioned. The difference, I suppose, would be where it is discussed in her absence as opposed to directly. I'd never pull anything from anyone because of spinach in their teeth. We've all been there. As I described above, there's just some concern when you feel like you're going to have to literally assign an adult to help the candidate get dressed in the morning. Considering the massive trust we're going to be putting in you, the stake in our reputation that we're surrendering to you and the millions of dollars that will be placed in your hands, it's not too much to ask that you know how to put on pants or know if your coat is dirty. Okay, now you've done it. You've awoken the why-do-I-have-to-dress-up beast (who agrees with you). I grew up in the run-down part of an agricultural community. Even shoes were often regarded sceptically given the comparative utility of boots. A fork and knife were dropped unceremoniously next to your plate at the only restaurant in town and a grease-stained, handwritten bill came with the food with a friendly, "no rush". I know this because I served that food at that run-down old diner. I even scooped the salad out of the nasty brown water bucket in which it came. Fast forward 20 years. I can tell a French syrah from an Australian shiraz, I know how and when to use a fish knife and I have specific requirements when I get a suit made to measure and preferences as to which knots to use with which ties. None of this was hard. None of that stuff came from my parents or my friends. It came from books and articles and TV shows and YouTube channels and forums like this. And you're not going to require anything close to that level of sophistication to do this job. You just need to put your damn tie on properly and try to wear socks that match your pants. I swear to God people act like we're trying to force them to shave their teeth down to points just by asking them to get a haircut every month or so. My toddler puts up less of a stink. Look, you're not just a grownup now --- you're all going to be the grownups for grownups. Faster than you realize, very powerful people are going to be looking to you for advice and craving confidence that you have your shit together and know the best way forward. If you can't sort out that a belt helps keep your pants from falling down, then Christ. I mean, just Christ already. When I got married, I didn't know how to tie a bow tie. I still suck at it. So what did I do? I went to a suit shop and asked someone to help me, and then I just left the knot in for a couple of days until the wedding. I used my brain to solve a problem. You've all tested in the nine bajillionth percentile for intelligence and you can't for the life of you sort out how to get a tie knotted before a job interview? What in hell are you going to do when the defendant skips town and I need you to be creative in finding him? Am I going to leave that in the hands of the guy that couldn't find a clothing store in downtown Toronto? If a kid shows up in a cheap (uh oh) black (oh no) suit with square-toed shoes (aghhh) and a button-down collar (why), and a square knit (eeeep) tie with a clip in the wrong place, he's wearing an objectively terrible outfit. BUT if the shirt is ironed, the tie is tied, the shoes are clean (dare I suggest, polished) and there's been a recent haircut, then I like this kid. A lot of us start out broke and clueless. A lot of us survive through partnership with terrible, terrible, just unbelievably terrible fashion sense. But bad fashion sense is fine, as long as you can groom yourself. All I'm looking for is a suggestion that for the biggest interview of your life you gave a crap about your appearance. If you can do that, everything else can and will follow. Yep. Some firms more than others. I get the sense that Osler is kind of the Yankees of Bay Street. (Or Gowlings, maybe?) I don't think I've ever seen a beard over there, meanwhile I swear the partnership of Cassels Brock meets in an actual Viking mead hall. I shaved mine three weeks before OCIs then grew it back in in a panic. I just plain look better with one, so that was the best approach for me.
  15. That sounds like too much work! Given how many students we see, the limited space, the unpredictability of movement through the building... apart from everything else, it just sounds too logistically improbable. You'd have students witnessing other students going through the same awkward scene they just escaped. Plus, it's enough of a hassle just finding two lawyers and an empty office each! Yep, it's surprising. Honestly, I try to be charitable about it. I think people watch a lot of Suits and read a lot of Goldman Sachs elevator guy and think they're supposed to be alpha and abrasive. None of those "presentation" things are going to cost you. I can't speak for every firm, but I've strongly supported candidates with disabilities that impact their speech. I was a hard 'yes' on someone with a pronounced lisp this year. One of the people we hired is a walking verbal wok with a very high voice. Ages ago one of the students I walked around had what I believe was a considerable Punjabi accent and we thought the world of him. I don't want to be seen as saying that there aren't completely unfair forms of assessment going on --- in fact, we only have unfair forms of assessment going on --- but most firms are very conscious of not discriminating against factors beyond an applicant's control. Certainly our firm would have a closed-door meeting with anyone that made any comment to the extent that someone was too ugly or heavy or squeaky to work here. The reason why I say "presentation" rather than "appearance" or something is because it is under your control. If you can't be bothered to iron your shirt (or you aren't aware that is something that ought to be done) in addition to a bunch of other things --- not knowing how to tie a tie, wearing white athletic socks with a navy suit, failing to brush your hair --- then I'm sorry. We sell advice, and confidence in our advice here, and if you don't know when your underwear is showing, I can't be confident that you can make that sale. This isn't a comment about Providence's comment, but on a quasi-related note, the only times I've heard adverse remarks about a woman's appearance at this firm, it's been from other women. I don't know if I have a point here; I just always found it jarring and thought I might mention that it might be nice if people didn't do that. It's an incredibly hard profession for women to get ahead in to start with, and I've always been conflicted about what to do when I'm present in those situations.
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