Uriel

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Uriel last won the day on July 18

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  1. Again, the labels are more useful to describe phases of client service; it's rare to find a senior lawyer that just grinds away in a library all day. Everyone has to cover all the bases to some extent, but I think the three-phase model is a helpful heuristic for the way you like to practice, or where your strengths may lie from a social perspective in your practice. You're right, though --- a lot of the 'grind' work divorced from client interaction is generally done by juniors. It's not easy to make partner if you don't have a client-facing practice. If you're just doing someone else's legal work, how are you making the firm money and supporting other associates? What value are you offering from your desk in the library that is so extreme that a client will be willing to pay $850 an hour for you as opposed to $475 for a gold medalist fourth-year associate that can take nearly twice as long? When a senior lawyer does manage to have a cloistered-away practice, she's usually something like a research lawyer, a support lawyer, an 'organizing' litigation lawyer, conveyancing lawyers, tax lawyers or a highly specialized regulatory lawyer of some kind. (Most of the foregoing types lawyers are highly client-facing, but there are some practices where this doesn't have to be the case.) These are really just the things that come to mind. I don't interface a lot with senior lawyers that largely do paperwork; if anyone else out there can correct my views or give better examples, please do chime in. Also, for what it's worth, a lot of the 'grinder' juniors gradually develop into more client-friendly lawyers as they build confidence and realize that their opinion has real value to their clients, and ought to be shared.
  2. Glad to hear it. I wasn't sure he earned that $20 I bet him until just now.
  3. I was actually going to mention something about that. I wouldn't be surprised to find that successful corporate lawyers had markedly higher LG scores, and litigators higher LR scores.
  4. Hence the post. Certainly where I come from there's a strong "Oh, I won't hear of it" tradition.
  5. Thank you, Inns of Court!
  6. Yep, and as I say, "often, but not usually". I'd still say, even in private practice, you're going to be getting your own bill about half the time. Just trying to give a heads up about the phenomenon so it's not weird when you see it. And I guess, in terms of courtesy, if you know that's how it's going down, it's not necessary to get the cheapest thing on the menu; the lawyer knows what the place costs going in. Just maybe don't get the most expensive thing if something really sticks out. EDIT: Also, I should mention that one of the reasons I'm flagging the issue is because, although generally the beef is over "hey, I asked you for a chat, I should pay", it's also occasionally been the case that I've been out for drinks and/or lunch with a female student and there seems sometimes to be a momentary crossing of the wires as to which tradition is being invoked here.
  7. Hi everyone, Just thought I'd make a thread about this to spread some awareness. It's caused a little awkwardness from time to time so I'm putting it out there in the student universe. Some of us out here adhere to the "Senior Call Pays" rule, an old legal-profession tradition where it falls upon the master to feed and board the apprentice. In your legal career, you will often (but maybe not usually) find senior lawyers paying for your coffee, drink, meal, cab, etc. without asking first. If that happens, just say thanks. Unless you're really upset, I'd suggest you don't insist and pull out your wallet. It's a good tradition and one that works out well with the parallel tradition of young lawyers being deeply in debt and senior lawyers being affluent. Plus, it's often the case that the senior lawyer is getting reimbursed from the file you're working on or a mentoring budget, etc. (This goes double on Bay Street. I know those of us from more modest backgrounds are taken aback at the idea that a stranger that's doing us a favour would spend $75 on a lunch for us --- but we're also not familiar with the idea of being able to lose $5,000 out of your savings account without even noticing, so.) I get this the most when I get a PM asking for a coffee chat. Because of the structure of my days, I'll often bump it to a lunch or drinks or something. I remember what it's like being a broke student --- I'm only a marginally less broke associate now (daycare is expensive!) I'm not going to force you to meet me in a place where the drinks start at $14 and then let you get the bill. Come on now. Just pay it forward when it's your turn. Sometimes that's going to mean you're getting drinks for a table of five. Sucks, but you got free stuff earlier. Time value of money.
  8. This is an important point. There's a strong litigator bias on this board for whatever reason, so we have to thank folks like Bob for sticking around and giving their perspective. Because there are so many exit options for corporate lawyers, their turnover is greater and it's true --- not a lot of people get to hang around to the point where their corporate practice is less about paper and more about designing an invisible thought-engine to flow money and promises through. A senior corporate lawyer is a legal engineer, taking complex and unsolveable problems and managing them in as efficient and compact a manner as possible. Even though litigators love to ridicule corporate folks on the rare occasion their contracts fail (it's usually the client's fault, I'm assured), I have to admit, from time to time I see an elegant swish of the pen and take a moment to admire the intellect that put it together. You might have, for example, a dozen interlocking agreements in a number of different regulatory areas and even different jursidictions. And then you come across the clause that says, "If Party A does X, then A vests in Party B" and you realize that because X would mean Q, R, Z and T did not happen and P and O must happen, then you have a serious problem on your hands --- unless A vests in Party B, which it now does, immediately. When I see something like that I really take my hat off. It's easy to make a big mess of complex agreements; it's genuinely impressive when I see a contract, as Saint-Exupery put it, "with nothing left to take away". For the reasons above, I disagree. I'm a senior litigation associate now and the stuff my colleagues are doing in securities and corporate law, and especially regulatory law, are very intellectually stimulating. That being said, litigation is definitely what I require to stay interested. I easily lose interest in a project and move on to another one, and it's very helpful for me to have 20 files in 20 different industries and 20 different (but related) problems. Even when I get bored, there's often another party to the action that's driving me absolutely crazy and who I can't wait to beat in court, which is a great motivator.
  9. It's a committee decision, so it's hard to say for sure that any one particular approach is going to be followed in every case. What makes a hit litigator prospect at McCarthys isn't necessarily what will make for a hot M&A prospect at Norton Rose. By and large, most applicants are perfectly pleasant, if a bit robotic due to training, and obviously bright. It's a buyer's market. So if given an opportunity to choose between a stylish, brilliant, outgoing associate and a potentially more brilliant one that is a little scruffy, quiet and sarcastic, you can't say for sure which one is going to get hired. It depends on who's doing the hiring. But given that this is a service industry, the question of whom the clients will prefer is certainly relevant. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself who you're trying to hire and why. There are shops down here with a strong future-partner orientation (like mine) where there's an emphasis on finding talented lawyers that will also be able to attract and support a large practice. They do incline to a more gregarious set, for market reasons. Others have a business model where they need to churn an awful lot of young associates for document review and research, and are more than happy to have them thump away in the basement, quitting left and right until the real keeners rise to the top. Neither model is "better"; they're both different ways of running different businesses. You're going to want a sporty, alpha-male, bro-ey candidate if you're expecting/hoping a lot of your work to start coming in from New York, or if most of your clients are unsophisticated or entrepreneurial. If your clients are institutional, or even professional (think about insolvency or lending), then the clients might be more retiring and appreciate a lawyer more their own pace. A dudebro might not go over with those clients as well as a smooth GQ model dude or an I-went-to-your-girls'-academy camp counselor. Or there might be such a huge volume of documents to review during the mergers your firm is tied up in that you know you'll need 50 of the most brilliant people you can find, even if their BO is intolerable. There's an old saying that every firm needs finders, minders and grinders: rainmakers that are out shaking hands all day and handing their clients' work off to others; warm, welcoming personalities that can problem-solve and organize for clients on a daily basis; and brilliant, detail-oriented people that do the heavy lifting of the legal work. It's not an apt analogy to the way a law firm works in every way, but I think it does accurately show the 'phases' of client service. Even the firms that are resting on big bank and insurance company legacy work still need to hire Toronto Life moms and dudes with shoulder-length hair that actually works for them to pry that HSBC account away from that regional Quebec firm. And even the firms that are out there in the dirt drinking beers with their contractor clients need someone that can meticulously plot out a class action strategy when the plumbing floods an 800-unit condo building. Often in those cases, you'll find a blend. There are superheroes that are well-connected, attentive to client needs and still in the library all night. But they start costing their clients a fortune in a hurry as they dominate the billings on a file. More commonly you'll find people comfortable with particular roles, or role-and-a-halfs. Take, for example, Dudebro Brad. Dudebro Brad is a corporate partner that is impossible not to like. He honestly, three thousand percent wants to know what's going on with you and to get excited about whatever you're excited about. He'll invest in it emotionally. He honestly loves nothing more than bouncing along the positive vibes of businesspeople trying to build something cool. He'll remember their names, their wives' names, their grandmother's spinster roommate's maiden names. He'll be up all night reading press releases about the thing they told him about light switch manufacturing and call them the next morning actually legitimately up at night wondering how they source their polymer. He'll get his answer and come by your office, unsolicited, to tell you the cool thing about light switch polymer he learned today. Dudebro Brad has precisely one legal skill: issue-spotting. He's great at it. He knows 5% of every statute in the country, and he knows exactly who the right person is to field that ball. I'm out for drinks with Dudebro Brad the other day, and he's complaining. "Why does the firm make me bill hours?" he laments. "Just let me do what I do! I could be bringing in another five million a year in work for guys like you if they would just pay me fairly for it. But instead, I'm in here busting my brain structuring deals when Rajesh actually likes it." Every firm needs Dudebro Brad, and Rajesh, and Rajesh's junior, passably-friendly-introvert Lisa, who researches the zoning issues at stake in the transaction. The question is how much of each you need for the market you serve, and who you can find to fill each role and each area of law and get along with all the others. And then factor in retention problems. Dudebro Brads that are actually great lawyers are much harder to find than top-notch lawyers that can't generate work at all. Mentally sharp "finders" are like lefties throwing 95, you draft every one of them you can and hope one in twenty works out. But you still have to build out the rest of your roster. That's where "firm fit" and "culture" come from. If your firm is 15% Dudebro Brads, then that's a lot of Dudebro Brads influencing who you hire. So even when you hire some Rajeshes, they're generally going to be more Dudebro Brad-tinged Rajeshes than they would be at a 15% GQ Model Kyle firm. So while I'm a Rajesh --- best deployed managing a file, running strategy, doing advocacy and doing the day-to-day with clients, rather than hustling for new clients or getting tied up in organization --- with a bit of grinder in there from my academic background, I'm just hard-drinkin' and outgoing enough to have been hired at Dudebro Brad's firm, and to have Dudebro Brad pick me when something complicated comes up. If I was more GQ Model Kyle in temperament, he wouldn't have been interested. And his cultural peers on the hiring committee probably wouldn't have been interested, and I'd probably have wound up across the street. And Really Dangly Earring Karen, grinder extraordinaire, who would generally rather communicate by... not communicating, ever, and who would rather just work 9 to 8 and go home to her DVR and Riesling, had sporty brothers growing up and despite being awful quiet can talk some real trash. Between her clearly feeling right at home with him and having spectacular grades, Dudebro Brad found himself fighting tooth and nail to hire her. TL;DR: You hire for the market realities your firm faces. You need different kinds of people to fill different roles at the firm, but all those hires will be tinged by firm culture. There's generally a premium on anyone that looks like they're rainmaker material without being a professionalism risk, but just because you over-draft out of that pool doesn't mean you don't draft other personalities (which you definitely also need).
  10. I can only speak for myself, and my role is really limited to just reviewing an application package before the interview (i.e., I don't actually decide who gets an interview, I just contribute to the decision to hire). I honestly don't read too much into them at all. With most employers --- and this is for the common benefit, I know you're not asking about a work reference --- you get a screamingly glowing recommendation and (modesty aside) I'm like... yeah. You hired someone with reasoning skills and academic talent in the top sliver of the North American educational system. I'd expect them to do decently well at planting those trees or soliciting those donations. I'm not learning anything to hear you say so. It's useful sometimes to hear about a sunny disposition or people skills, or something else that might give an objective sense of what kind of person you are; but what I most often read is, "took a lot of initiative, showed leadership, hard worker, very smart". Yep, no surprises there. Now by "leadership" and "initiative", are you trying to quietly say that they kicked the door in and insisted everyone do everything their way because they're so &$%* smart? Hard to say. A reference letter from a professor is a little different. They're often coded a little bit to suggest a student that's been difficult or opinionated. And a lot of them just reinforce "very bright, will be a good addition to the team". Which is a fair thing to say about 50%+ of your class, especially given the average professor's perhaps deserved view of the intellectual wattage of those of us in practice. I agree with Bob's assessment above --- something personal, especially from a renowned professor, can make a difference. If Waddams calls you a generational intellect or Janet Walker writes that she was blown away by your strategic acumen in her civ pro class, then I'm definitely going to think twice even if your grades are shaky. Other than that, though, I really don't give reference letters a lot of credence. Not that I doubt them; it's just that I doubt that they're necessarily a differentiating factor. You might have two B+ references from professors. Might a more timid or deferential student have obtained the same? Entirely possible. It's not something I can hold up to assess you against someone else since that 'someone else' just has a null value rather than a zero. And absent a real gold-star endorsement, I'm just generally not convinced most of these letters add a lot of value. Although they do show you get organized and pursue people to meet deadlines, which I guess is a plus.
  11. Don't you raise a hand to Getahun, don't you do it
  12. GARY: Hey Laura, did you figure out what's going on with the treatment of the jet under that tax treaty? LAURA: Yeah, I staffed it out to Unfortunateson; look at this memo, it's eleven pages long. GARY: Any good? LAURA: Amazing! He's got this section in here for further reading and even has a little blurb on academic opinions about the likelihood of the treaty's renegotiation. Look at this stack of reference materials. GARY: I haven't worked with him yet. LAURA: Well, give him a shot. He's kind of a keener. Good sense of humour, too. GARY: Somebody we should look at? LAURA: Yeah, he's been coming out to the lunches and everything, so I think he's got an interest in the group. GARY: did he get a C in tax tho LAURA: yes he got a C in tax GARY: nooooo LAURA: noooo [brandishes sacrificial knife] GARY: nooooo [draws curtains] AMIR: [entering from outside in black hood] nooooooo OTHER ASSOCIATES: [enter from outside in black hoods, chanting collectively] he had a bad exaaaaaaam
  13. FWIW, I've had an extremely difficult few years working with the Scotia LOC branch. They seem to be more than a little disorganized over there. Doesn't necessarily mean the product is bad.
  14. Being a first alternative means you were indistinguishable from a hire. If you were the first alternative at multiple firms, there's nothing to improve.