t3ctonics

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t3ctonics last won the day on February 26 2016

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  1. Number 6 is a doozy. I've always been a fan of Orwell's approach. My problem is with the more arbitrary rules from guides like Strunk and White's The Elements of Style being treated as inviolable rules of grammar, rather than style advice.
  2. I agree with this, and pretty much everything maximumbob, Hegdis, and Diplock said. To answer the OP from my own perspective, I believe my functional and professional writing has vastly improved, while my creative writing has suffered. I feel like I have learned the science and forgotten the art, but I am working on that. As noted by others above, legal submissions have rules and conventions, and straying from them can cause serious problems. As you get feedback from professors, instructors, and more senior lawyers once in practice, your mastery of mechanics will likely become considerably better. However, in the legal profession I have seen slavish adherence to rules of writing set down in style guides with counterproductive results. I have been told to "correct" things that were in fact not errors at all. Also, as you read legal writing, you will pick up stock phrases and styles that aren't necessarily good writing, but are common practice in the profession. I have always been a strong creative and academic writer, and I was an English major before going to law school. After I started law school, creative writing fell by the wayside and I only picked it up again in the past two years or so. When I returned to it and started trying to write a novel, I found my prose barren, clinical, and stilted. My dialogue was realistic but uninteresting. My scenes flowed logically and conveyed all the necessary facts, but not the intended emotion and impressions. Overall, my post-law writing is functional but lifeless. In contrast, my pre-legal career writing was powerful and intense, albeit occasionally on the purple side, with imagery and characters that stuck with readers after the fact. In my creative writing I have struggled to find a place in between - not so flowery and melodramatic as my more youthful writing, but with more personality and life than my first efforts when I returned to creative writing after my foray into law. That said, my experience may differ from the more senior lawyers or those more closely involved with clients, as most of my writing day-to-day has been very objective and factual, such as research memos to partners or reporting to clients. As a litigator there are opportunities for creative persuasive writing on occasion, but the written submissions I usually do are on relatively narrow legal issues in the context of dry commercial disputes. I suppose if I learn to turn those submissions into something human, I would have no problem writing quality fiction again. I think I'll take a tip from Diplock - I need to put more thought into what I write, and think of all my writing as practice. On this forum, reddit, and other places online, I tend to dash things off very quickly with little thought to style. In informal writing like this I know I tend to abuse parentheses, commas, and dashes to interject thoughts inside of thoughts (inside of thoughts). I also seem to favour run-on sentences and parallel structure errors.
  3. Drop them off at a thrift store for a budding Sovereign Citizen or Freeman-on-the-Land to further their education.
  4. I never really had a "Eureka!" moment. I never dreamed of becoming a lawyer. I'd never even considered it until about 9 months before I ended up starting law school. As a kid, I wanted to be all sorts of things, but the one I kept coming back to was a novelist. I made a conscious choice to try to live as much "real life" as possible to have a broad base of experience and a deep understanding of human nature. Then I ended up in the punk scene and almost didn't graduate high school. Sex, drugs, rock'n'roll. When I eventually went to undergrad for my first (abortive) attempt, I wanted to be a sociologist. After a year and a half I dropped out - I just couldn't stand the courses I was taking. So I worked for a few years, and eventually went back to undergrad after my then-girlfriend (now wife) pointed out how badly I was wasting my strengths as a full-time security guard and part-time retail salesperson. I thought I would enjoy being a high school teacher, so that was my goal when I went back to school. At the end of my first semester back in undergrad I was looking at the chain of courses I needed to take to have enough credits in my planned teaching areas, and realized I would have to be in school for another four years before I would be earning a paycheque. I took a look at the entrance requirements for a few other programs, and saw that law school was only 3 years, and that I could apply immediately to start the following fall. All I needed to do was make sure my grades in my last semester were nice and high, and do well on the February LSAT. So I got my application together, spent January studying for the LSAT, wrote it on February 6, 2010, got an acceptance conditional on getting a sufficient average in my final semester, hauled ass for that last semester of undergrad, and started law school that fall. Graduated 2013 , articled right after, and got called to the bar in 2014. I totally stumbled into this career, with very little thought put into it other than "oh hey, I think I could do that". I've worked my ass off to get here (and I work my ass off to stay here), but I honestly applied to law school on a whim. This wasn't a dream of mine. It wasn't planned. It was the quickest path I could see to a decent-paying job, and it's been a total success by that yardstick. Now for your four fears: I think an academic interest in law is helpful for anyone that wants to go to law school and become a lawyer. It's not very relevant to most people's practices, though sometimes in litigation you can get into some of the more theoretical/academic stuff (particularly appellate litigation, which is usually on specific issues of law). It won't sustain your interest in day-to-day practice. But it will help in any situation where you need to learn the law on any particular issue. The people that thrive as lawyers are usually interested in the problem-solving aspect - figuring out the mental puzzle of how to meet the client's objective, and executing that plan. Lawyers are fundamentally problem-solvers. In undergrad, do what interests you, and do it well. If your alternate plan is psychology, go for it all the way. Don't worry about trying to pad your transcript with classes you think you might be able to get better grades in. For one, you probably won't; people almost always get better grades in the undergraduate courses they're actually interested in. Also, if you don't get into law school I'm sure you'd be kicking yourself if you hadn't set yourself up to go on to graduate studies in psychology. But be prepared to re-assess your goals throughout. Who knows, you may decide you hate academic psychology but you love computer science, or art history. Undergrad extracurriculars are extremely overrated as resume-filler. I did exactly zero undergrad ECs, though I was more involved in law school. Be prepared for failure. Having failed in life at numerous things along the way, I highly recommend it. You learn who you really are when you hit rock bottom and realize that not only have you failed yourself, but even worse, all of your loved ones. It's an irreplaceable learning experience. But seriously, don't try to avoid failure "at all costs" because this will set you up for a life of mediocrity. Life is a gamble - unless you came out of the gates with a big head start, you have to take big risks for big rewards. If you're totally risk-adverse and only take the safest options, you'll only have the smallest rewards. It's like investing in the stock market versus putting your money into a basic savings account with a bank. You'll never get any meaningful return on investment from the savings account, though you'll (practically speaking) never lose your money. Anyways, my final advice on this goes with what I said to (b) above - do what interests you, and do it well. If psychology interests you and you think you'd enjoy a career in the field, take all the psych classes you can and take them seriously. If you have what it takes academically to get into law school, your grades will be sufficient. In all honesty, I don't know anyone who wishes they studied more in university, but I do know a lot of people who wish they'd spent more time getting to know their classmates, making friends, and being involved with the community. There is definitely a point where further study results in diminishing returns, and the amount of work required in ANY undergraduate program is less than that of a full-time job. Lots of people have full time job and still have fulfilling social lives.
  5. I graduated with my JD from the U of S 5 years ago, and I'm working at a large firm in Saskatchewan (what passes for biglaw here). Making low 6 figures. I'm at the point in my career where I have to start seriously planning for the "up or out" thing. For the first few years of being an associate you just need to do everything that comes your way as well as you can, with a good attitude. As you get more senior you need to think about the long-term. If I want to make partner one day, I need to develop a game plan and really start working toward that goal (i.e. developing my own practice rather than relying on others feeding me). If I want to go elsewhere, I should start looking around, making connections, and putting out feelers. I'm not really certain of my long term career goals at this point, so I'm kind of preparing for either path. I've seen mid/senior associates (at my firm and others) do the following: Lateral to a different firm (some to equal sized or larger firms, and even some to national firms in larger centres like Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, but also a roughly equal number to smaller firms). Lateral moves within private practice seem to be the biggest category. Go in house as lawyers (corporate or government). Second biggest category. Leave law for policy jobs in government. Leave law for management jobs (government or corporate). Leave law to start their own business. Leave law with no plan, to do whatever the hell they want (small category). Go solo/start a new firm (small category) Make partner (small category, and appears to be getting smaller).
  6. FYI, they give these photos to the profs before classes start. I had a prof in first year who had everyone's faces and names memorized before even meeting any of us. Some people found it kind of creepy, but it was also pretty cool that they put that effort in. Call Doreen and ask, but when I was applying 7 years ago credit card payment was not an option when I dropped my package off in person.
  7. See, this is why I'm not a tax lawyer, and why I rely on TurboTax.
  8. When I finished articling and talked to Scotiabank about repayment of my student line of credit, they asked if I wanted to convert it over into a professional line of credit. I'm not a tax lawyer by any stretch of the imagination, but I would expect that the interest costs on a professional line of credit used for your business would be deductible. Even if your PSLOC wasn't with Scotia and your bank won't convert it to a PLOC, Scotia might be willing to take it on. Also: congrats on your success going solo - netting 50k in your first 8 months is pretty damn good for a first year call. And further congrats on your extreme debt repayment! Well done!
  9. I know a few lawyers that have outright adopted different first names without changing their legal names. This ranges from people with non-western names that would be difficult for the average Canadian to pronounce to people who have adopted nicknames. They use the adopted name on their websites, emails, business cards, before the Court (including on filed documents), and in all social situations. I'm sure that in dealing with the Law Society they have to use their legal names, but otherwise the adopted name is what they go by. This is incredibly common. I also know a couple of women who changed their last names when they got married but continue use their previous surname for all professional purposes. I don't see a problem with any of this. Pseudonyms used in good faith are entirely normal. As alluded to by maximumbob and Malicious Prosecutor, I think the objectionable part is that it sounds like Bart101 simply made up a fake name that (s)he has never used before and does not intend to use in the future. I don't think this is really deserving of any kind of formal censure, and certainly not by the Law Society, but it is a lie. Not in regard to anything that actually matters, but it may be sufficient for a firm to lose interest after finding out the truth. Anyways, I'm with Diplock on this one. As a practical matter, just own it.
  10. But was it true? Is the bencher interview just a BC thing, or do other jurisdictions have it too? I've never heard of this before.
  11. If I hadn't worked during law school, I probably would have graduated with about $30k more debt. Paid over 10 years, that would be roughly an additional $300 per month depending on interest rates. That would be a non-issue now as a 4th year associate, but at my articling salary that would have been a noticeable difference. To be honest, if I could go back and do things differently, I would still work, but I would also put more energy into socializing and maintaining my existing relationships. Rather than taking on more debt and working less, I would actually study less. I really went all-out in first year. I attended every single class and did all of every single reading until I burned out in March. I bought (and read) additional books for every course. I hoarded and reviewed dozens of outlines/summaries/CANs from previous years and even other schools. Hell, I even noted up the cases in our casebooks sometimes. In upper years I really dialed it back in terms of the extra academic effort, and still did fine. I cut down from all of the additional work to simply doing the readings (most of the time) and going to class (most of the time). I was able to become more involved socially, and do more ECs, and live more of a normal life outside of school. I spent more time with my SO, friends, and family. I played more video games. It was good. This is true. If you manage your time reasonably, you can do law school as a 9-5 or 8-4 or whatever. In upper years this was definitely the case for me (with the exception of a couple of evening classes). Aside from my neurotic approach to 1L, I had much more free time during law school (even with working on the side!) than I usually do as a practicing lawyer. I think working during law school eased the transition for me though. I've seen a lot of articling students get totally overwhelmed by their workloads, but that was never really an issue for me.
  12. It's definitely doable, but you have to sacrifice. I know a few people who have done it successfully, including myself. I worked throughout law school, including during finals (though I would book at least the day before each final off as well as the day of, of course). I usually worked around 20 hours a week, but it varied. Occasionally I would only work a single 8 hour weekend shift, and occasionally I would work two 8 hour weekend shifts and three 4 hour weeknight evening shifts. I did well in first year, getting an average in the top 5% of my class, and graduated with distinction (top 25% or 20%, I don't recall). However, I did very little in first year other than go to class, study, and work. I also burned out towards the end of 1L and skipped a lot of class that March. My relationship with my significant other suffered, as did my relationships with my friends and family. I spent what little free time I could with my SO and friends and family to try to keep those relationships alive, and had very little time to do anything social at school. I would get to school just in time for class, pay attention during class, hit the books between classes, and go straight home or straight to work right after my last class each day, with none of the usual socializing. I attended only a handful of law school events throughout my time there, and I made few lasting connections. I got the impression most people thought that I was just aloof, or that I thought I was better than everyone else, but I was just struggling to meet all of the demands, and there just wasn't time for a more normal school social life. I had to work to pay the bills and avoid crushing debt levels (which were still pretty bad in the end), I needed to do well in school to ensure I could actually get a job in the end, and I needed to somehow keep my existing relationships alive. I succeeded for the most part, but it was at the cost of having very limited relationships with people at school. I relaxed a lot in second and third year, did a little socializing, and got to know more people. But I still worked, and I still didn't attend most of the events and informal get-togethers - I was just more relaxed and social with people during my time at school.
  13. I know a few people that work in tax litigation. It seems to be a nice niche for those that can wrap their heads around tax law. It usually seems to be more on the regulatory side of things than criminal, but there is a criminal component. OP, I'm with the majority on this one - admin law is very important in a lot of practice areas, and should be considered mandatory (and is mandatory at most law schools). To be honest, I had trouble understanding admin law when I took it in law school and didn't get a good handle on it until I worked through a few admin files in practice. However, I'm sure I would have had a much worse time of it if I didn't have at least the basic understanding I got from the course. I recall that when doing my initial research on the first of those files, I remembered the relevant principles and key cases, so I knew where to start my research. If I hadn't taken admin in law school, I would have had to go to an introductory textbook first, and who knows how long I would have been spinning my wheels.
  14. I realize I'm late to the party and you already received some great answers from several other posters already, but I still want to share my perspective. One of the best litigators I've personally seen in action put it this way: "First you have to make the judge want to find in your favour. Once they want to, you just need to show them how." The facts are the biggest part of the "want", though the law still matters. The legal arguments are more about the "how".
  15. I don't work on Bay, but I am at a large full-service firm and often work comparable hours. I have found it difficult to maintain a regular workout schedule. I'm naturally at my highest energy level in the late afternoon/early evening, and I've always preferred to work out before supper. However, with the unpredictability of work demands on my time in addition to the need to spend time with my significant other in the evening, I find it much more practical to work out in the morning. Work or other demands are much less likely to get in the way at 6:30am than at 5:30pm. I hate the feeling of working out in the morning and my performance is always lower in the morning. However, rather than making me fatigued throughout the day I find it actually gives me a boost. I'm much more energetic and productive at work in the morning on the days that I work out than I am on the days I do not. It also improves my quality of sleep, stress level, and overall mood. I don't think exercise combats burnout rather than contributes to it (though it could if you go to extremes - e.g. competitive powerlifting, marathon training, etc.). That said, if you can't have a shower between your workout and actually starting work, you might want to reconsider. I used to bike to work on occasion, and it was a struggle to maintain a professional appearance throughout the day after getting all sweaty and not being able to clean up (this does depend on the level of exertion involved of course - I had a more aggressive pace than most commuters would). This highlights a work/life balance issue experiences by many lawyers in private practice: it is often difficult to plan to do things on weeknights, from simply going out for supper with your SO, to playing in a slo-pitch league, to attending your kid's soccer game. As you become more senior you generally do have more control over your schedule, but you also have more and higher expectations placed on you. As you become more senior, rather than having an associate or partner tell you that you have to stay late to work on something, you're more likely to have a client call you directly and say they need something ASAP, or to look at your To-Do list at 5:00 and realize that you simply can't take your SO out for supper and still meet your deadlines. Of course, this is true of many professional and other "high end" jobs.