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#51 Starling

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 01:34 PM

Thanks for doing an AMA!

 

I spend roughly 50-60 hours of the week at the firm. I generally don't work weekends or at home (but it has happened, and I have thrown really late nights). Different practice areas are also busier or slower. For instance, M&A is almost always crazy, while everyone else goes up and down.

 

Were you a lot busier when you first started working for you firm? Or has 50-60 hours consistently been your average?



#52 7ED

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 01:41 PM

I am not representative as I have a clerkship coming up. As a result, the firm has had trouble staffing me due to the timeline. I averaged 60-80 hours a week (one particularly brutal week saw 100 hours billed) for about a month, and then I had 20-40 hour weeks. I would say 50-60 hours is the average for most junior associates here though, subject to practice group distinctions. One of our particularly heavy hitting non-M&A specialty groups is so overstretched and overworked that the juniors are basically billing 70-80 hours most weeks, and that is always true for basically all M&A groups at the major firms. The poor work-life balance means more people leave, which makes the group even harder to staff, which increases attrition still further, and so on and so forth. The silver lining to groups like that is that they tend to be the very tippety top of the market, and people leave after only 2-3 years to high responsibility jobs elsewhere because you cant get that kind of training or experience anywhere else. The tradeoff is you will have no life while doing it.


Edited by 7ED, 15 March 2016 - 01:43 PM.

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#53 pzabbythesecond

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 02:42 PM

I believe I read on here earlier (possibly from yourself even) that firms in NY specialize in either solicitor work or barrister work. Is this true? It would mean if I wanted to work in litigation in NY I'd have specific firms to apply to, and for solicitation other firms to apply to?

 

Lastly, if the above is true, is the hours, billables, docketing, etc comparable among solicitor and litigation firms? Pay is the same? (i.e starting roughly 160k with raises annually and bonuses?)

 

Thanks!



#54 nerfco

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 03:35 PM

Eh? I can't speak to other firms, but if we didn't do layoffs in 2008, I doubt we'd do them barring a crisis as serious. That said, mass layoffs did happen in NY back then, most notoriously at Latham and Watkins, and recently at Weil Gotschal. The "talk" that nerfco is referring to is essentially the one where all law firms sit you down around 4th year, and then again around 7th year and up, to tell you whether you are on track for partner. If not, it is a subtle hint for you to leave. We usually give people plenty of time to find other employment (true for most of our peer firms I think), but we DO expect people to leave if they don't make partner (also true across the board). Up-and-out is still going strong.

 

People are often pushed out more forcefully than this in V10 firms in NY at annual reviews.  Typically, they'll often tell you that you should really look for other jobs and so on.  Then, perhaps six months later, they might officially let you go, which usually means that you get three-month (paid) to find a new job, where you may or may not have to go in to work at all.  After that three months, if you still haven't found anything but are on good terms, they'll sometimes agree to let you remain on the website but sometimes not.  These layoffs are usually termed as being "performance-based," but it's still a layoff.  I know people who were let go in this manner from the majority of the V10.

 

Layoffs outside of the review cycle, such as the massive (~ 50% of the associates in the firm) LW 2008 layoffs are quite rare and make ATL or other law tabloids.  Performance-based layoffs are much less rare (perhaps 5-10% of the associate classes in years 4 and up at most CSM-style firms), but don't really make any waves because it's just business as usual.



#55 nerfco

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 03:39 PM

I believe I read on here earlier (possibly from yourself even) that firms in NY specialize in either solicitor work or barrister work. Is this true? It would mean if I wanted to work in litigation in NY I'd have specific firms to apply to, and for solicitation other firms to apply to?

 

Lastly, if the above is true, is the hours, billables, docketing, etc comparable among solicitor and litigation firms? Pay is the same? (i.e starting roughly 160k with raises annually and bonuses?)

 

Thanks!

 

There's no solicitor/barrister distinction in the United States.  Nearly every biglaw firm is going to do both corporate work and litigation, as well as a number of other practice areas (tax, bankruptcy, etc).  You can check Chambers & Partners for specific practice-area rankings if you want, but unless you're doing something especially niche, most large firms will have the practice. 

 

There are a couple biglaw firms that are litigation boutiques and don't have corporate work (e.g. Williams & Connolly), but they're more the exception than the rule among Vault firms.


Edited by nerfco, 15 March 2016 - 03:40 PM.

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#56 7ED

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 03:58 PM

People are often pushed out more forcefully than this in V10 firms in NY at annual reviews.  Typically, they'll often tell you that you should really look for other jobs and so on.  Then, perhaps six months later, they might officially let you go, which usually means that you get three-month (paid) to find a new job, where you may or may not have to go in to work at all.  After that three months, if you still haven't found anything but are on good terms, they'll sometimes agree to let you remain on the website but sometimes not.  These layoffs are usually termed as being "performance-based," but it's still a layoff.  I know people who were let go in this manner from the majority of the V10.

 

Layoffs outside of the review cycle, such as the massive (~ 50% of the associates in the firm) LW 2008 layoffs are quite rare and make ATL or other law tabloids.  Performance-based layoffs are much less rare (perhaps 5-10% of the associate classes in years 4 and up at most CSM-style firms), but don't really make any waves because it's just business as usual.

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.


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#57 7ED

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 04:02 PM

Usually the big full service firms (think v10) are pretty well rounded in everything, but if you want to do litigation in NY, some supposedly "full service" firms have far stronger litigation arms than they have corporate. Paul Weiss and Gibson Dunn are the ones that jump to mind. Pay/bonuses are generally the same, but there are some minor variations between firms (Susman Godfrey, high powered lit boutique, pays insane bonuses and has a shorter partnership track; Williams and Connolly is DC only, but it doesn't pay bonuses in favor of a higher starting salary that shafts senior associates but benefits juniors). Hours/billables can really vary. Quinn Emmanuel and Boies Schiller (lit firms) will work you to death beyond the usual 2000 billables area.

 

I believe I read on here earlier (possibly from yourself even) that firms in NY specialize in either solicitor work or barrister work. Is this true? It would mean if I wanted to work in litigation in NY I'd have specific firms to apply to, and for solicitation other firms to apply to?

 

Lastly, if the above is true, is the hours, billables, docketing, etc comparable among solicitor and litigation firms? Pay is the same? (i.e starting roughly 160k with raises annually and bonuses?)

 

Thanks!


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#58 Legendary

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 04:13 PM

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? 


Edited by Legendary, 15 March 2016 - 04:13 PM.


#59 nerfco

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 04:29 PM

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.

 

I agree that it's not a bad deal at all, and didn't mean to suggest that it was.

 

But, I think if you tell people outside of biglaw that you were told to a find a new job within the next 9 months (paid), they'll think of it as a layoff of some sort. It's what you and I might expect, but those who don't have a concept of CSM-style biglaw (as contrasted with firms like Williams & Connolly, Wachtell, Bartlit Beck, etc.) won't know to expect that without being told.



#60 7ED

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 12:04 AM

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? 

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.


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#61 conge

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 05:21 AM

Thanks for doing this AMA - interesting stuff. 


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#62 TheLawStudent

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 05:44 AM

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, 16 March 2016 - 05:50 AM.

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#63 Legendary

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 10:26 AM

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. 



#64 Starling

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 11:48 AM

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?



#65 erinl2

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 12:02 PM

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.

#66 nerfco

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 02:56 PM

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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#67 nerfco

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 03:00 PM

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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#68 Starling

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 04:26 PM

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, 16 March 2016 - 04:51 PM.


#69 TheLawStudent

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 06:14 PM

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, 16 March 2016 - 06:16 PM.


#70 7ED

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 06:31 PM

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, 16 March 2016 - 06:46 PM.

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#71 7ED

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 06:34 PM

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, 16 March 2016 - 06:43 PM.

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#72 TheLawStudent

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 07:01 PM

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.  



#73 theycancallyouhoju

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 11:23 PM

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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#74 nerfco

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 01:57 PM

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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#75 TheLawStudent

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Posted 17 March 2016 - 02:17 PM

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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