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Uriel last won the day on December 15 2017

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  1. What makes a good law clerk?

    As a lawyer and not an HR person, it's hard to say what qualifications are strictly necessary to get hired. But I would have to imagine that ongoing CLE (continuing legal education) certificates and the like to show that you're serious about your career --- or even specializing in an area! --- would be received very well. In many cases, I think we tend to grab clerks that have great academic credentials, a record of advancing their skills with certifications and fresh training, and (usually) a record of working steadily for another respected law firm without too much moving around. (When we lose an associate, it's an unfortunate business reality. When we lose a clerk it's like losing a limb. We need to avoid that wherever possible.) Despite the hiring process, the things that make a law clerk indispensible are mostly character attributes more than certifications or skills. We've got three clerks in our department and they should basically be in charge of the department and the firm and most likely our personal lives and/or the Commonwealth generally. The things that really stand out and save our bacon: Intellectual curiosity. They don't just process charts. They get to know the case, they get to know the witnesses, and when they come across something weird they ask us about the weird thing -- even if it's outside the scope of their job. One of our youngest clerks almost won us an unwinnable $1 billion case by noticing an e-mail coming from someone that should not have known a certain thing at a certain time if they were telling the truth under oath. Creative solution-finding. Clerks can often suffer from being the last link in a chain or, if it's not too obscure, the last rank in a pre-Napoleonic column. If a whole army isn't walking in sync, the people at the end of the column are constantly having to sprint to catch up as every minor misstep works its way back to them in the form of delay. Because instructions come from a client, through a busy partner, through a busy associate, to a busy clerk, it can often be the case that the clerk is handed an assignment to handle in an unreasonable amount of time because an extra day or two of delay was added every step of the way. A clever clerk that can cut corners and take shortcuts to get something done on time is always a hero. Organization. Lawyers are neither selected nor trained for organizational skills. A clerk that can answer, "hey, where is that e-mail where..." or "didn't someone once write..." by checking an index no one asked him to write is worth his weight in silver. Like, I think probably you could get two good clerks for a clerk's worth of gold, but I think silver is trading pretty reasonably these days. Technical expertise. Whether it's knowing the Sedona Canada principles for e-Discovery in a kind of detail we will never get our heads around, or being able to read a real estate PIN at a level of detail that will allow a lawyer to get a mental image of the land at issue, clerks are frequently responsible for translating complicated technical data into simple, manageable concepts for a lawyer that is either too junior to have picked that expertise up by osmosis, or too senior to (care/be able) to operate the necessary technology. Clerks that can not only perform those tasks but apply superior communication skills to transmit their expertise into usable concepts and reports are quite literally worth more than I am. I might get paid more, but I'm much, much easier to replace.
  2. Bay Street Bonuses

    It's a new practice, not uniform yet. You'll find a couple more 'yes' and a couple more 'no'. I'm not familiar with anyone doing it on a percentage basis, so I'm not sure if that intel is sharp, but mine could be off as well. I'm personally against these policies unless the payout is subtracted from your annual bonus; otherwise it just disproportionately benefits people that have a busy first half and a slack second half, rather than vice versa. I mean, it's not like they're going to take that out of your December paycheque if you take your foot off the gas and bill 1500 on the year, are they? What if you write a book or go on parental leave in the first half of the year then catch up to 1800 by the end, whereas your colleague in the next office over bills an even 900/900 in each half? Why should she get paid more? Seems to invite some gamesmanship that could rock your Q3/Q4 financial projections, but what do I know.
  3. Bay Street Bonuses

    This all varies by firm - in many places income partner is a "holding tank" for senior associates that could use the title for marketing purposes but who haven't been voted in by the partnership yet. Sometimes you can stay there for years. In other firms, "income partner" is a category people stay in, often by choice. It most often applies to people: (a) with specialized practices that rely on other people's clients to be fruitful; (b) with no client development skills (or inclination to do client development) who are excellent lawyers that will always be reliant on other partners for their income; or (c) who like their jobs and want to keep them just the way they are. I know this sounds crazy, but being a partner is a lot of work. You're responsible not only for running your own files at the highest possible level, managing a legal team and hustling for clients, but also for a share of running a massive, multimillion-dollar business. It's a lot of stress! It's like working two full white-collar jobs. And on top of that, to constantly be competing for more units and worrying about collections and new client development and having your compensation veer wildly based on other people's work... not everyone wants that kind of life, even if it pays a lot more. My articling principal was a sure thing for partnership, but she just didn't want to bill 20-bajillion hours a year. She's an awesome mom as well as being a kick-ass lawyer, and she has her own clients and everything, but she wanted to work 9 to 5. The firm would rather suffer a building fire than lose her to someone else, so they were happy to agree. A very high fixed income and low-ish hours, all the while getting to do headline-grabbing Bay Street work... it's not unreasonable that some people would prefer that arrangement. In many cases, they've more than earned the title of "partner" - they just don't want to participate in running the business. That is the exception, though. I'd venture that most "income partners" are just very senior associates in waiting to make equity. I have heard, though, that the more millennials start coming up for partner, the more interest there is in taking an income-partner arrangement. That's another factor; firms don't necessarily want too many of those kicking around. They want partnership to mean something, and they want people to be motivated to bill like mad and run the company well. Losing too many partners to permanent second-tier status can starve the partnership of the talent it needs to be competitive.
  4. Bay Street Bonuses

    To be clear, you won't need to make that out of your own book. I'll probably ring in about $100k on my own clients this year, but I'll earn the firm about $900,000 total; and I'll be a (very unlikely) candidate for the partnership this year. Plenty of people with small or non-existent books make partner due to current earnings and future potential.
  5. Bay Street Bonuses

    Especially if I just invested a half-million-bucks-plus into the place.
  6. Bay Street Bonuses

    Yep! I gave New York some serious thought, but ultimately I decided to stay based on some foolish feeling of national loyalty (I could never have afforded law school if I went to the US) and more practically, I thought my odds of making partner here were much, much better. I've also always said that if I ever give this practice up, I'd want to do the complete opposite. I either want to work on the big, complex, headline-grabbing cases and give my brain a workout every day; or I want to be a small-town solicitor with a big dopey border collie in the front office. So far, though, I'm a lot happier here than I ever thought I would be so I'm sticking with this for the foreseeable future. Even this is too general a statement of compensation across firms. This only describes about 3 of maybe 5 bases for getting a compensation boost at my firm (and maybe most firms), and describes what is probably a globally inaccurate 'floor'. I'd run screaming from any firm that would purport to pay a partner less than an senior associate because they had a down year for billings. They might be asked to leave, but I'd be shocked to find a firm paying an equity partner less than $250k. They still own a stake in the firm's profits, after all. OK, that makes more sense. And "early" associates would be the key term here. If we're talking about lockstep in 1-3 years of call, they might well be right. I haven't checked in after the last round of raises, though.
  7. Bay Street Bonuses

    That's not the line I was drawing. I think it would be fair to think that two partners with similar books of business at two different firms on Bay Street would still be roughly evenly compensated --- maybe withing 100k or so. Which, as others have observed, after taxes, is still a ludicrious amount of extra money but doesn't really nudge the needle on lifestyle that much. If I'm making 650k at Goodmans but 780k at McCarthys (totally random selection of firms, read nothing into this), is my day-to-day life really all that different? Maybe when I'm 85 and drawing on an annuity. She brought in a blue-chip client with a steady stream of work. If you bring in that many dollars from clients that size, any firm would be crazy not to compensate you enough to keep you happy.
  8. Speaking for myself only, that's because I can think of some questions to get you talking about your clinic work. Your HH in contracts seems like a less fruitful subject for revealing conversation. It doesn't mean I value the latter less than the former. I just don't want to talk about Tercon because it's not going to tell me anything about you. Your experience with the refugee family, maybe.
  9. Bay Street Bonuses

    I keep thinking I should do a standalone post about what a senior partner's lifestyle seems to be like, and what this kind of money actually means in concrete terms. But with a negative net personal value, I still feel kind of unqualified. It's all second-hand and observational. There are tidbits, though, that I've come across that have helped me sort out what my own goals are. And with so many of our members aiming at achieving that lifestyle, it might be good for them to have a sense of what the reality smells like, since they might be as far off on that as they are on what being an "environmental lawyer" or "international lawyer" might be like. It's interesting to see what "time off" looks like, what social circles they travel in, what hobbies they have and what financial decisions they seem to make, what they think of the galas and the international files they work on... a post on that subject might be revealing, but it would also almost certainly be inaccurate. Maybe I should leave it to those that have more experience with successful partners in their personal lives.
  10. Bay Street Bonuses

    I guess this is another good time to note, as I often do, for all the youngsters in the crowd that we're talking about degrees of separation within a near-unfathomable amount of money for most people. That is to say, if you intend to use money as a way of 'keeping score' in life, or if you have particularly expensive ambitions -- owning competitive stables or a larger-than-normal luxury yacht, funding your own enterprise or leaving a headline-grabbing legacy gift -- then the difference between one Bay Street firm's average profits per partner and another's might concern you. If your aims are more modest -- live in a beautiful home, drive a sweet ride, take opulent vacations a few times a year, and never worry about money for the rest of your life -- then it couldn't matter less which firm you wind up in. Making partner at any one of these firms (heck, any one of a huge number of smaller firms as well) will see you to being a millionaire a couple times over by age 50.
  11. Bay Street Bonuses

    OK then. (Not sure how to say this so that it doesn't sound ironic! If you believe him, works for me.)
  12. Bay Street Bonuses

    If there's one thing I've learned about working on Bay Street, it's that the partners are not at all competitive and are as transparent and humble as they can possibly be in respect of their compensation. Again, entirely possible. At the same time, compensation is the GPA for grey-hairs and self-reporting is roughly as reliable.
  13. Bay Street Bonuses

    One of my colleagues got a six-figure bonus as a fifth-year associate. I don't know how much profit-sharing the folks at Davies get, but facts like that tend to problematize the sweeping statement that Firm A pays more than Firm B. It's impossible to know if Davies would have done the same, or valued the associate in the same way. Would they have beaten that? Sure, maybe. But only maybe.
  14. Bay Street Bonuses

    If it's true that Davies' recruiters are showing applicants a chart purporting to detail the internal compensation structure of other firms, which is information that is (a) often in flux, (b) increasingly holistic and (c) confidential from even their own senior associates, that's concerning. Less because it suggests corporate espionage and more because it can only be an estimate held out to be true. I stand by my comment that it's entirely likely that of Canadian law firms, Davies pays the most in terms of lockstep. (After a couple of years, any firm will go out of its way to super-compensate a superstar.) I also stand by my comment that it's impossible to know for sure. And now I'm also disturbed at a potentially unfair and misleading practice. For the time being, I'll remain sceptical that this occurred; not because I disbelieve our poster but because I prefer to give Davies the benefit of the doubt that there was some misunderstanding.
  15. Bay Street Bonuses

    Also Morgans bonuses at 30% of collected A/Rs over 2000 hours.