aspiringsolo

US biglaw attorneys taking questions [merged]

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Close call. I'd have gone with NYU in your position, but reasonable minds can disagree on this one. Its pretty easy to move from NY biglaw to Toronto, especially if you do transactional, but you do have to jump the accreditation hoop before you move.

 

I would have picked NYU because it is so hard to know what you'll want to do 4-5 years down the road, and biglaw in NY gives you the widest set of geographic/career exit options. It makes sense to have a plan, but the chances of that plan actually turning into reality seems pretty slim just because life seems to happen. Who knows, you might like NY, you might find a significant other in the USA. But if you are 100% set on staying in Canada, then it is a far closer call. Don't know what to tell you here mate.

Wouldn't it really depend on the cost though? I mean if you are paying 300K for law school...you don't really have a wide range of career and exit options..you have one option, big law till you pay off your debt. I wouldn't necessarily say its a "close call" if you want to work in Canada because chances are if you go to NYU its going to be a long time before you can afford to come back here. 

 

But those are just my 0.0002 cents

Edited by TheLawStudent
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Close call. I'd have gone with NYU in your position, but reasonable minds can disagree on this one. Its pretty easy to move from NY biglaw to Toronto, especially if you do transactional, but you do have to jump the accreditation hoop before you move.

 

I would have picked NYU because it is so hard to know what you'll want to do 4-5 years down the road, and biglaw in NY gives you the widest set of geographic/career exit options. It makes sense to have a plan, but the chances of that plan actually turning into reality seems pretty slim just because life seems to happen. Who knows, you might like NY, you might find a significant other in the USA. But if you are 100% set on staying in Canada, then it is a far closer call. Don't know what to tell you here mate.

 

Thanks for your opinions 7ED & TheLawStudent:

 

I do agree that NY opens more doors - especially with transactional given the larger deals. I'd be open to working in NY for a handful of years, but I am just hesitant because of the opportunity cost of time that I may spend with the accreditation in the event I want to come back. I currently have a significant other in Canada, though she is mobile. 

 

At your firm, do you work with any Canadian law school grads? I understand that UofT does place a small proportion of students in NY. 

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Don't think there is any disagreement. Just a difference of perspective. I see a 9 month grace period to find a new job, all whilst paid, a pretty sweet deal. I wouldn't call these layoffs though. up-and-out is just how the market is structured. It is what you expect going in, you either make partner, or you leave.

 

Is it very difficult to find work after you have been pushed out? Do most people have to transition to in-house or something similar afterwards?

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Folks, it's generous of 7ED to offer his/her contributions here but keep in mind that someone who has been practicing for less than a year is unlikely to know all of the inner workings of how his/her firm operates. Answers may not be readily available to all of your queries.

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Is it very difficult to find work after you have been pushed out? Do most people have to transition to in-house or something similar afterwards?

 

This would tend to vary a lot based on how the economy is doing, what your practice area is, and the ranking of the firm you start out at.  Generally, though, it isn't that difficult to find work in the timelines that large law firms give you.  

 

I'd also note that most people don't "have to" transition to in-house, but rather, choose to transition to in-house.  If you are looking at a move after, say, 3-6 years at a biglaw firm, it will be easier to lateral to another biglaw firm than it will be to go in-house.  More commonly, people actively seek out in-house options in order to have a more stable career (no up or out, which usually means out) and to have a better work/life balance (no longer always-on-call).  I have not had friends who are forced into in-house from large law firms, but have many friends who chose in-house for the above reasons, as well as choosing in-house based on geography.

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Recent admit to both NYU & UofT. I am interested in biglaw (either Toronto or NY), but unsure of living in the US for the rest of my life (in that I may want to end up in Canada in the future). I know that the general consensus is "go to school where you want to practice", but do you have any other advice you'd be willing to share as someone who has worked NY biglaw? 

 

It would be really helpful here to compare expect debt-at-graduation.  Of note is that NYU Law's student budget is fairly optimistic, and most people tend to spend more than the budgeted amount.

 

As mentioned by others, you don't really have too many options if you graduate with huge debt totals.  U.S. grads with similar debt have more options--due to things like public interest loan forgiveness for U.S. federal loans and NYU having a pretty good public interest program--but you can't take advantage of the former as a Canadian.

 

Given roughly equal debt totals, I would decide between the two schools based on which city you want to live in for the next six years. (Three for school, and then some more years to work in the city after graduation.)

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This would tend to vary a lot based on how the economy is doing, what your practice area is, and the ranking of the firm you start out at.  Generally, though, it isn't that difficult to find work in the timelines that large law firms give you.  

 

I'd also note that most people don't "have to" transition to in-house, but rather, choose to transition to in-house.  If you are looking at a move after, say, 3-6 years at a biglaw firm, it will be easier to lateral to another biglaw firm than it will be to go in-house.  More commonly, people actively seek out in-house options in order to have a more stable career (no up or out, which usually means out) and to have a better work/life balance (no longer always-on-call).  I have not had friends who are forced into in-house from large law firms, but have many friends who chose in-house for the above reasons, as well as choosing in-house based on geography.

 

That makes sense. Sorry, I didn't mean to make in-house sound bad - I can definitely see the appeal and it's something I am interested in. Thank you!

Edited by Starling

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Thanks for your opinions 7ED & TheLawStudent:

 

I do agree that NY opens more doors - especially with transactional given the larger deals. I'd be open to working in NY for a handful of years, but I am just hesitant because of the opportunity cost of time that I may spend with the accreditation in the event I want to come back. I currently have a significant other in Canada, though she is mobile. 

 

At your firm, do you work with any Canadian law school grads? I understand that UofT does place a small proportion of students in NY. 

Its generally not the best idea to go to UofT with the expectation you will work in NY. This year we placed 17 out of 200 students and the students who are getting NY offers are at the very top of the class. I would recommend going to any T14 over UofT if you want NY. Unfortunately, apart from HYS there aren't any schools that are going to keep all your options open in a completely efficient manner, I say HYS because they seem to have very good financial aid and debt repayment programs. But the debate between NYU and UofT will almost exclusively come down to NY versus TO.

 

Neither school seems especially adept at placing students in the other market.   

Edited by TheLawStudent

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Thanks for your opinions 7ED & TheLawStudent:

 

I do agree that NY opens more doors - especially with transactional given the larger deals. I'd be open to working in NY for a handful of years, but I am just hesitant because of the opportunity cost of time that I may spend with the accreditation in the event I want to come back. I currently have a significant other in Canada, though she is mobile. 

 

At your firm, do you work with any Canadian law school grads? I understand that UofT does place a small proportion of students in NY. 

Ya I think only you can answer that question. Having a significant other in Canada is pretty damn important, and also if you are sure you want to stay in Canada, like nerfco said, why bother with the accreditation process when you can just stay in NY? I can see you wanting the experience that New York offers, but ultimately this is a personal question unique to you.

 

I think we have had Canadian law school grads in the past, but not for my year. Our sister firm hires 1-2 every year though.

Edited by 7ED
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Wouldn't it really depend on the cost though? I mean if you are paying 300K for law school...you don't really have a wide range of career and exit options..you have one option, big law till you pay off your debt. I wouldn't necessarily say its a "close call" if you want to work in Canada because chances are if you go to NYU its going to be a long time before you can afford to come back here. 

 

But those are just my 0.0002 cents

Yup. Completely cost dependent. You need to do the cost-benefit analysis. But I would keep in mind, all else being equal, that not having to article means that you have an approximately 120k leg-up on your counterparts on Bay Street in the first year after graduation, which may significantly offset the added cost.

 

Also--the one option also gives you a pretty wide range of options later on that hanging out your own shingle as a personal injury attorney in a small town up north does not have. Most of us in biglaw see it as an investment into future freedom, but in the meantime, we are chained to our desks.

Edited by 7ED
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Yup. Completely cost dependent. You need to do the cost-benefit analysis. But I would keep in mind, all else being equal, that not having to article means that you have an approximately 120k leg-up on your counterparts on Bay Street in the first year after graduation, which may significantly offset the added cost.

 

Also--the one option also gives you a pretty wide range of options later on that hanging out your own shingle as a personal injury attorney in a small town up north does not have. Most of us in biglaw see it as an investment into future freedom, but in the meantime, we are chained to our desks.

The articling point makes sense but it is also worth keeping in mind the extra year you would need to take off to get accredited in Canada. 

 

Not exactly sure what you mean in your second point. New York Biglaw will likely give you better exit options but Bay st is not bad either and I hardly think it compares to working as a personal injury attorney in a small town (I may be completely misinterpreting this point though so please excuse me if I am). Also, worth keeping in mind that Bay st firms tend to have better partnership prospects compared to NY (from what I understand at least), although who knows if this will stay true for much longer.  

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Its generally not the best idea to go to UofT with the expectation you will work in NY. This year we placed 17 out of 200 students and the students who are getting NY offers are at the very top of the class. I would recommend going to any T14 over UofT if you want NY. Unfortunately, apart from HYS there aren't any schools that are going to keep all your options open in a completely efficient manner, I say HYS because they seem to have very good financial aid and debt repayment programs. But the debate between NYU and UofT will almost exclusively come down to NY versus TO.

 

Neither school seems especially adept at placing students in the other market.   

 

Those 17/year are increasingly JD/MBAs. If you're certain you want to go to NY, you're at UT, and you don't have stellar grades in December, the JD/MBA is your best bet.

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The articling point makes sense but it is also worth keeping in mind the extra year you would need to take off to get accredited in Canada. 

 

Not exactly sure what you mean in your second point. New York Biglaw will likely give you better exit options but Bay st is not bad either and I hardly think it compares to working as a personal injury attorney in a small town (I may be completely misinterpreting this point though so please excuse me if I am). Also, worth keeping in mind that Bay st firms tend to have better partnership prospects compared to NY (from what I understand at least), although who knows if this will stay true for much longer.  

 

For what it is worth, I don't think that most people who could get into UofT or NYU will actually need to take a year off to get accredited in Canada. I have taken NCA exams while working full-time and I know others who have done the same. While the NCA process might take a year, you don't actually have to *not work biglaw* during that time. It's only four exams and frankly, they aren't that difficult for the relevant students here.

 

Of course, even once you do get through the NCA process, you still have to "article," at least in name. You may be able to find a firm that will basically treat you as an Xth year associate and pay you accordingly, despite your "articling" title. I am aware of others who have moved to large Canadian firms for whom this is true.

 

(I don't have a real comment on exit options for either NY or Bay St. I am sure both are fine, and NY would probably have more numerous options due largely to being a larger market in a larger country.)

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For what it is worth, I don't think that most people who could get into UofT or NYU will actually need to take a year off to get accredited in Canada. I have taken NCA exams while working full-time and I know others who have done the same. While the NCA process might take a year, you don't actually have to *not work biglaw* during that time. It's only four exams and frankly, they aren't that difficult for the relevant students here.

 

Of course, even once you do get through the NCA process, you still have to "article," at least in name. You may be able to find a firm that will basically treat you as an Xth year associate and pay you accordingly, despite your "articling" title. I am aware of others who have moved to large Canadian firms for whom this is true.

 

(I don't have a real comment on exit options for either NY or Bay St. I am sure both are fine, and NY would probably have more numerous options due largely to being a larger market in a larger country.)

I was not aware that the NCA exams were something that could be done while working. This is really good information and I think is really pertinent for those who are deciding between US or Canadian schools with the intent to return to Canada.

 

I agree that NY will have better exit options, especially into international markets. Bay st. seems limited in providing good exit options mostly in Canada. On the bright side I don't really think you can go wrong with either UofT or NYU as either school is going to put you in a really great position to work as an attorney.

 

I think it would also be worth considering NYU's biglaw placement. I used to operate under the assumption that any T6 was guaranteed Biglaw but have recently been told that this is not necessarily the case. Maybe someone who knows more about American schools can speak to this.   

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I was not aware that the NCA exams were something that could be done while working. This is really good information and I think is really pertinent for those who are deciding between US or Canadian schools with the intent to return to Canada.

 

I agree that NY will have better exit options, especially into international markets. Bay st. seems limited in providing good exit options mostly in Canada. On the bright side I don't really think you can go wrong with either UofT or NYU as either school is going to put you in a really great position to work as an attorney.

 

I think it would also be worth considering NYU's biglaw placement. I used to operate under the assumption that any T6 was guaranteed Biglaw but have recently been told that this is not necessarily the case. Maybe someone who knows more about American schools can speak to this.   

Ya not necessarily the case. I have more than one friend who graduated from a T-6 and had significant difficulty finding a job. My comparison was more biglaw vs. not-biglaw, and I agree, Bay St. will offer you great exit options in Canada but is more limited internationally.

 

Also, considering there are simply no better alternatives for those who are actually set about wanting to be a lawyer, focusing on the downsides of going to U of T or going to a T-6 school is pretty pointless. There is no such thing as a completely risk-free option.

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Hi,

 

Thanks for all the info so far - I'm trying to choose a school for the fall, and I have a couple general questions I'd love some help with. If I sound like an idiot, or have made some silly assumptions I'm sorry in advance.

 

1) When people speak about having more options internationally - is this referring to options to work for international agencies (UN, WHO,WTO etc.), or to work on cross-border files? I'm under the impression that in the vast majority of cases, a law degree isn't transferable - so I assume we aren't talking about the option to actually work in a different country. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

2) If anyone has had the chance to live in NY and Toronto - is the cost of living relatively similar? Rent prices for students seem somewhat similar, but I honestly have no idea.

 

3) For those of you that went to school in the US - were you able to access Canadian loans (Federal/Provincial Student Loans etc.)? I've received conflicting information and I didn't get a clear answer when I called asking.

 

For context, I'm deciding between UofT at cost (I won't qualify for aid year1, and probably not year2, either), NYU with a 25000/year scholarship and Columbia (aid request pending).

I have no preference between living/working in NY vs. Toronto in the short term ( <10 years).

I'm not certain on the type of law I want to practise.

 

Thanks!

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Hi,

 

Thanks for all the info so far - I'm trying to choose a school for the fall, and I have a couple general questions I'd love some help with. If I sound like an idiot, or have made some silly assumptions I'm sorry in advance.

 

1) When people speak about having more options internationally - is this referring to options to work for international agencies (UN, WHO,WTO etc.), or to work on cross-border files? I'm under the impression that in the vast majority of cases, a law degree isn't transferable - so I assume we aren't talking about the option to actually work in a different country. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

2) If anyone has had the chance to live in NY and Toronto - is the cost of living relatively similar? Rent prices for students seem somewhat similar, but I honestly have no idea.

 

3) For those of you that went to school in the US - were you able to access Canadian loans (Federal/Provincial Student Loans etc.)? I've received conflicting information and I didn't get a clear answer when I called asking.

 

For context, I'm deciding between UofT at cost (I won't qualify for aid year1, and probably not year2, either), NYU with a 25000/year scholarship and Columbia (aid request pending).

I have no preference between living/working in NY vs. Toronto in the short term ( <10 years).

I'm not certain on the type of law I want to practise.

 

Thanks!

I cant speak to many of the points but with respect to the first point we are mostly referring to other countries. This is because New York firms tend to have offices in many cities so it is easier to go to other countries. You probably won't be able to work as a general litigator in Singapore with a NYU degree but if you want to work in the Singapore office of a US firm it is easier to get there from New York than Toronto. Some Bay street firms tends to have offices in other countries but they are much more limited and they tend to hire grads from that country. 

 

Obviously if your goal is just to work in a specific country there is no doubt that it is better to study in that country. I also don't know how easy it is to transfer between offices from New York but I hear they pay NY rates so money should not be an issue. 

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Hi,

 

Thanks for all the info so far - I'm trying to choose a school for the fall, and I have a couple general questions I'd love some help with. If I sound like an idiot, or have made some silly assumptions I'm sorry in advance.

 

1) When people speak about having more options internationally - is this referring to options to work for international agencies (UN, WHO,WTO etc.), or to work on cross-border files? I'm under the impression that in the vast majority of cases, a law degree isn't transferable - so I assume we aren't talking about the option to actually work in a different country. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

2) If anyone has had the chance to live in NY and Toronto - is the cost of living relatively similar? Rent prices for students seem somewhat similar, but I honestly have no idea.

 

3) For those of you that went to school in the US - were you able to access Canadian loans (Federal/Provincial Student Loans etc.)? I've received conflicting information and I didn't get a clear answer when I called asking.

 

For context, I'm deciding between UofT at cost (I won't qualify for aid year1, and probably not year2, either), NYU with a 25000/year scholarship and Columbia (aid request pending).

I have no preference between living/working in NY vs. Toronto in the short term ( <10 years).

I'm not certain on the type of law I want to practise.

 

Thanks!

 

I'll take a stab.

 

1. I'm unclear on whether the premise of this question is going to HYS or Columbia, or working for a NY big law firm, but in either case the answer is "yes to both and all of the above". The top US law schools simply send more people to any cool organization you can think of - Harvard is a lot better recognized than McGill by essentially everyone, despite what the sweatshirt your mom buys when she drops you off on campus says (*I attended U of T, so I'm basing my knowledge of this on colleagues and organizations I now do work with in free time). Working for an NY firm can (though not necessarily will) give you more access to working on cross-border transactions and litigation with an international dimension. First there is the fact that NY is the legal hub for much of the world's international business. Second, when NY and Toronto are both involved in some cross-border project, it's generally NY that takes the lead in most ways (sometimes much to my compatriots' chagrin). Finally, U.S. industry is just a bit more international by nature - Canada's major business is oil, minerals, natural resources, not investment banking and tech.

 

Re: working abroad - The bigger NY firms generally have foreign offices that employ both a local staff (who generally work on a local pay scale) and lawyers they bring in from NYC. Where applicable (i.e. anywhere outside London), they will require you to have language and cultural competency, and generally some familiarity with the business and/or law that office generally deals in. You don't need to know PRC contract law to work in Hong Kong, but it doesn't hurt to know what a VIE is, how to set one up and why many clients are setting one up.

 

2. No. NY is much more expensive. Particularly on rent.

 

3. I can't answer this one.

 

If you have no preference between working in NY or Toronto, and you're not even very sure you'd like to be a corporate lawyer, I would lean toward U of T. The debt burden will be much lower. The only justification I can get behind for an extra $100,000 in debt (or whatever it ends up being) is a career you really want to pursue.

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I realize this is very focused on NYC. But that's the market that tends to hire the most Canadian law grads from Canadian law schools. Some do go to Boston and a few have gone to California but the most common entry point is NYC. 

Do you know how difficult it would be to get in with a California firm? Would it be more beneficial to go to a west coast law school?

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