aspiringsolo

US biglaw attorneys taking questions [merged]

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Having clerked and looked for a job (and being tied into the network of other clerks in ottawa) I can confirm the general disinterest Canadian firms have for clerks and the lack of hireback for folks who articled and then clerked. Most tax court clerks ended up at big four accounting firms or government.

 

My 2nd hand impression was that fed court and fca clerks had it worse than we did.

 

I know Fed and FCA clerks who have then gone on to both U.S. and Canadian big law.

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I know Fed and FCA clerks who have then gone on to both U.S. and Canadian big law.

 

Same. Most ppl I know who clerked at a superior court or a federal court found employment within a short time after clerkship (and pretty good gigs too). For those who had a hard time finding employment in a private firm, it probably had little to do with their clerkship.

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Just FYI for the benefit of law students that wouldn't otherwise know --- NYC has much higher salaries and lower taxes (I think) but the bonuses are significantly higher than this in Canada.  Pulling 2000 hours in Toronto will generally net you $20,000 as a first-year call.  (The math goes 10% of salary for making target and another 5% for every 100 hours after that.)  Of course, Toronto being Toronto, only $12,000 of that will get through Her Majesty and make it into your pocket.

 

It depends on the firm, as well.  I have known people that have done so much great work, such insane hours and brought in enough clients that they have reportedly doubled their associate salary through a more holistic bonus structure.

 

Bonuses in Toronto are wildly variable between and within firms. It is really difficult to give a rule of thumb or to suggest that bonuses in Toronto big firms are higher than those figures given for NY.

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Sounds reasonable.  I only have info from three or four firms, and they have similar structures (or at least similar results).  Near-uniformity over a small sample size.

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Partnership is basically off the table. Many colleagues who have left have gone to other firms (if <5 years of call) and government/in-house if more senior. Most Canadians from Canadian law schools tend to go back to Canada. They usually land at the top litigation boutiques, good government posts, or outside of the practice of law. 

Perhaps Uriel can help to answer this question, but I've heard that the partnership tract is easier to achieve in Canadian big law over US. Can anyone shed some light on what the reasons for this may be? Is it due to the structural differences in firms? The amount of $$ paid to associates in NYC? The nature of the work? Culture? 

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With regards to clerking, I would note that the Appropriations Act means that Canadian citizens (as opposed to dual citizens) can't get paid for US federal clerkships in the lower 48.  Accordingly, for most Canadians, a US (federal) clerkship is off the table.  (Of course, you can get a $50k bonus for it from a biglaw firm, but that money isn't usually paid until after you return to biglaw.  Thus, you'd have to have your own funds to live on the for year of clerking.)

Edited by nerfco

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With regards to clerking, I would note that the Appropriations Act means that Canadian citizens (as opposed to dual citizens) can't get paid for US federal clerkships in the lower 48.  Accordingly, for most Canadians, a US (federal) clerkship is off the table.  (Of course, you can get a $50k bonus for it from a biglaw firm, but that money isn't usually paid until after you return to biglaw.  Thus, you'd have to have your own funds to live on the for year of clerking.)

 

One NYC firm told me that they paid the bonus even if you clerk in Canada.

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Perhaps Uriel can help to answer this question, but I've heard that the partnership tract is easier to achieve in Canadian big law over US. Can anyone shed some light on what the reasons for this may be? Is it due to the structural differences in firms? The amount of $$ paid to associates in NYC? The nature of the work? Culture? 

 

PPP. Profits per partner. US firms are more concerned with PPP and the track there is more deeply entrenched as well.

 

They don't want you touching their dollars. Toronto is slowly moving in that direction but it isn't as bad as New York is.

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One NYC firm told me that they paid the bonus even if you clerk in Canada.

 

Yes, this is correct (at least for the Supreme Court--I have no personal information about lower Canadian courts). I was referring to US clerkships.

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Yes, this is correct (at least for the Supreme Court--I have no personal information about lower Canadian courts). I was referring to US clerkships.

 

Oh, I wasn't disagreeing. I was just pointing out that it's an acceptable alternate to clerking in the US for free.

 

ETA: The guy I talked to also was of the opinion that ONCA and FCA would be fine, in addition to the SCC. Nothing lower, though.

Edited by kenoshakid

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 The guy I talked to also was of the opinion that ONCA and FCA would be fine, in addition to the SCC. Nothing lower, though.

 

The guy's opinion is incorrect. Federal Court clerks also get the bonus from NY firms.

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The guy's opinion is incorrect. Federal Court clerks also get the bonus from NY firms.

 

Could it vary between firms? To be fair he was in the corporate department and admitted he wasn't 100%.

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Could it vary between firms? To be fair he was in the corporate department and admitted he wasn't 100%.

 

Anything could vary between firms. My point was that what he said, as a general statement, is incorrect.

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Anything could vary between firms. My point was that what he said, as a general statement, is incorrect.

 Lots of firms give bonuses for provincial courts of appeal, Ontario Superior Court (no matter the city) and the FC/FCA/SCC. 

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Just FYI for the benefit of law students that wouldn't otherwise know --- NYC has much higher salaries and lower taxes (I think) but the bonuses are significantly higher than this in Canada.  Pulling 2000 hours in Toronto will generally net you $20,000 as a first-year call.  (The math goes 10% of salary for making target and another 5% for every 100 hours after that.)  Of course, Toronto being Toronto, only $12,000 of that will get through Her Majesty and make it into your pocket.

 

It depends on the firm, as well.  I have known people that have done so much great work, such insane hours and brought in enough clients that they have reportedly doubled their associate salary through a more holistic bonus structure.

 

 

This is my understanding also. Bonuses in NYC have tended to be at or near this scale for the past few years. Prior to the financial crisis, they were much higher than this scale and thus higher than Toronto. 

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PPP. Profits per partner. US firms are more concerned with PPP and the track there is more deeply entrenched as well.

 

They don't want you touching their dollars. Toronto is slowly moving in that direction but it isn't as bad as New York is.

 

Lots of factors, but profit maximization is the priority for the firms in NYC. So there is a long (10 years) partnership track and then two categories of partner (income and then equity if you hang around for long enough). Toronto is moving in this direction (as I understand it) but it is still possible at some places to make partner. 

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 Lots of firms give bonuses for provincial courts of appeal, Ontario Superior Court (no matter the city) and the FC/FCA/SCC. 

 

I'm not sure why you are quoting me. You seem to be making the same point as I was. :)

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I know Fed and FCA clerks who have then gone on to both U.S. and Canadian big law.

 Of course, my general point is that it is hard to get down to the US without summering as an FC/FCA clerk vs. SCC where Sullivan and Cromwell will recruit you directly from the SCC (without previously having summered). I know a lot people who did FC/FCA and had a hard time going back to their biglaw firms. I know some were just fine, of course, but there were others who had a problem because of the unenthusiastic reaction to clerking that many Canadian firms have. 

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