If you strike out at OCIs, does that mean you will never be able to get big law? That is pretty much the boat I am in right now.
This is an insidious myth.
If you strike out at OCIs, you've lost the easy-street approach to Bay Street. So it is a loss, but it's far from the end of the road.
First, there's the articling recruit. We all have a friend or five that didn't get a job at OCIs and then found themselves articling at a Bay Street firm, but you'd never know it from talking to current students... because we sometimes graduate (or close to it) by the time those people find out they got the gig.
Second, you can lateral. We lateral all the time. When you lose two real estate associates within six months, you need to get another one and sometimes poaching from another Bay Street firm doesn't work, or isn't practical. We ask around about who to get from people in that bar, or get recommendations from people that went to law school with them, and pop them an interview. So, for example, I got a call last year asking me about Person X and whether I knew them from school. I sure did, she was great, and apparently she'd been in a mid-level tax practice and had expressed interest in moving up. We needed a new tax associate, boom. Here she is.
It's easier to lateral if you articled on Bay Street. It's not necessary to article on Bay Street to lateral in. What you really need at that stage is a good reputation, connected friends and (ideally) either an impressive resume or a few clients of your own.
Typically, if you miss the articling recruit as well, your first lateral opportunity will probably come around your third year, so keep hustling. Or, take a look at how well you can do hustling in your existing situation and ask yourself if there's really that big a marginal difference between killing it at a mid-size firm where you'll make partner for sure, or working on Bay Street for a high salary but riskier partnership prospects, especially coming in from the outside.
As someone who is potentially interested in litigation, what sorts of activities did you do to improve your public speaking skills? Or were you always gifted in that area and didn't need much practice? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a really really damn good public speaker), I'd rate myself a 5. I've been told that I can carry a conversation well and am fairly articulate, but there are definitely a lot of room for improvement, AND, I get super nervous when I have to speak in front of a class, especially during in class participation. I mean, my palms get super sweaty, my voice starts to shake, and I start to slur my speech and I start sounding like I just immigrated here a week ago......even though I pull myself together just fine during less formal interactions.
Just going to cringe my way through this one. Sorry; I've always kind of been a public speaking guy. Drama classes, speeches, videos and presentations even when unnecessary for school, and I was a speechwriter for a while. I started doing public speaking at a young age in arts festivals and liked drama so much I studied it in college. I've been in a few plays and operas. I wouldn't say I'm a great public speaker, but I don't have any fear of crowds. (As it turns out, everyone wants you to do well and sympathizes or falls asleep if you don't.)
A lot of people do, though, and manage to overcome it. I might leave those tips to them, but in the meantime I'll say that while I wasn't scared of public speaking, I was afraid of public screwing everything up. And nothing helped my confidence more than sitting in a few courtrooms over the first year or so and watching just how spectacularly poorly prepared some people are, and watching self-represented litigants make presentations in court. Impolite as it might sound, you can get a lot of confidence from the knowledge that with a little elbow grease, even if you do stutter and sweat, you can still be one of the more effective people that judge is going to see today.
Just a couple of questions I randomly came up with!
I think I read awhile back that your not from Toronto, so were you ever faced with a dilemma about where (city, province) you wanted to work and settle down? This is more for some friends I know who are faced with a decision of having to leave home and with the possibility of not coming back because of distance, competition and the somewhat black hole that is life after law school.
Also, I'm in third year university with the intention of applying to law schools in the fall. Do you have any advice regarding applications, LSAT, preparing for what's likely to be a very busy final year with highs and lows while waiting to hear back from schools?
I didn't have that dilemma, really. I had already decided to make Toronto my home and that kinda makes it easy. It's home and it has the most jobs in the areas I'm interested in. But I'll always echo the most common advice out there: go to school where you want to practice. Your network is so important; arguably the second most important thing you'll get out of law school other than your degree. If you want to practice in Calgary, do not go to a 'better' school elsewhere. The vague sense that maybe you're smart is not nearly as great a benefit as having 50 friends nearby that might be hiring.
I applied to law school after taking a year to work, so I didn't have to do any balancing (man, this is like four "not me" questions in a row!). My big tips at each stage, though:
- Applications: Remember your audience! Think about what they are trying to do here, more than what you want to say, and tailor your application appropriately.
- LSAT: Don't get the flu the day of. Also take a few weeks to practice, be merciless with timing yourself, and always read the question before the background info.
- Waiting to hear back: Insomnia has $3 shooters on Fridays and Saturdays.
Sort of a follow up question regarding not knowing what type of law you want to go into. You mentioned making a list of things you don't want to do, which is definitely something I will try, but as a 0L, is it bad to go into law school clueless (for lack of a better word)? Should you have some sort of idea as you begin law school or is it alright to take a very open minded approach and use that first year to find an area of law that you would be well suited to?
Absolutely that last part. And you'll still have no idea when you graduate, though you might have a few clues. Like, I did so badly at Tax that even though I was really open to doing tax litigation I knew I just wasn't cut out for it. You'll get a few of those "no"s, but generally you might just get a vague sense of what interests you. You're going to require some practical experience before you really know what area of law you're well suited to, though.
For example, you might really really love Aboriginal law in law school, but then in practice see what it's like to litigate against the Crown for a couple of years and change your mind (or vice versa).