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Articling -sole practitioner - salary range

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20 minutes ago, TdK said:

I suppose you would have to have a great deal of logical intelligence to score a 178 or something similar. Although, what can we say about the person who studies for 8 months, 5 days a week to score that 178? Perhaps they cold-scored a 150. Are they more intelligent than the person who studied for 4 weeks and scored a 160? I don't know the answer, but it's interesting to consider what we view as intelligence. At least I find it interesting. 

The statistics clearly point to the limited amount the lsat is "learnable" (as it is designed to be).

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, TdK said:

I think someone with a horrible work ethic who managed to achieve a very high GPA and LSAT would be an outlier, though. In a way, I think you make my point; if you had kept the same work ethic, you'd probably be a terrible lawyer. 

Ummm... what?

On the first sentence, what are you basing that on? Anything at all?

 

Second sentence, yes sure. Necessary conditions aren't necessarily sufficient. You're not really making your point there (and neither was I).

Edited by pzabbythesecond

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I'm basing that off of my intuition. I'm open to being wrong, of course.

My point, or at least one of them, was that great lawyers don't need to be brilliant or markedly intelligent. They need to be ambitious and have a strong work ethic, above all else. You noted you had to change your work habits. Even though you didn't have to work hard to achieve your great grades and LSAT score (which I assume makes you rather intelligent, at least in one sense of the word), that wouldn't be sufficient to be a great, or even good, lawyer.

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, TdK said:

I suppose all we'll receive here are individual cases. I think someone with a horrible work ethic who managed to achieve a very high GPA and LSAT would be an outlier, though. In a way, I think you make my point; if you had kept the same work ethic, you'd probably be a terrible lawyer. 

I'm avoiding specifics, but if I'd been in a history program, I'd have had a high GPA with very little effort. NOT because it's inherently easier, but because for me it would be easier even with a poor work ethic, given my reading speed and that I'd been interested in and reading and studying history out of interest well before university. And that's borne out by my marks in history courses taken as outside electives. It was definitely not based on working hard or having a good work ethic.

For LSAT, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I'd had the hobby since I was in elementary school of doing logic puzzles for fun. Add a high reading speed to that, and my LSAT score was not based upon hard work or any sort of work ethic. I've worked hard for success in other things, but one reason I never thought of becoming an LSAT tutor (EDIT: I mean at the time when it would have been a lucrative part-time job as a student or in the summer, not working at a law firm) is because I'd first how to learn how other people figure stuff out.

And my personal example aside, from (long-ago) discussions, I don't know how much these are outliers. I've met people with very good (in at least one case, close to eidetic even?) memory, people who knew a subject before even taking it in university, etc., whose marks had nothing to do with work ethic. Similarly for LSAT, some people just got it from the start.

Edited by epeeist
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5 minutes ago, TdK said:

I'm basing that off of my intuition. I'm open to being wrong, of course.

My point, or at least one of them, was that great lawyers don't need to be brilliant or markedly intelligent. They need to be ambitious and have a strong work ethic, above all else. You noted you had to change your work habits. Even though you didn't have to work hard to achieve your great grades and LSAT score (which I assume makes you rather intelligent, at least in one sense of the word), that wouldn't be sufficient to be a great, or even good, lawyer.

[emphasis added]

I think a great lawyer does need to be very intelligent. Noting that greatness does not always correlate with success (think Van Gogh or any other number of artists...and contrariwise people who have been very successful without being great).

I do agree that a good, or even merely competent, lawyer does not have to be so smart. I think average or maybe above-average intelligence is enough, if the person knows their limits. Someone more intelligent, but with an inflated sense of their abilities (Dunning-Kruger?) may be more dangerous than someone less so, but who knows their limitations.

As for ambition, not so much, except that a successful sole practitioner needs ambition/drive/entrepreneurship to do well, especially if they're going to earn enough to pay an articling student, rather than just having an unpaid one (hey, I'm trying to relate to the topic at least occasionally!).

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8 minutes ago, epeeist said:

I'm avoiding specifics, but if I'd been in a history program, I'd have had a high GPA with very little effort. NOT because it's inherently easier, but because for me it would be easier even with a poor work ethic, given my reading speed and that I'd been interested in and reading and studying history out of interest well before university. And that's borne out by my marks in history courses taken as outside electives. It was definitely not based on working hard or having a good work ethic.

For LSAT, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I'd had the hobby since I was in elementary school of doing logic puzzles for fun. Add a high reading speed to that, and my LSAT score was not based upon hard work or any sort of work ethic. I've worked hard for success in other things, but one reason I never thought of becoming an LSAT tutor is because I'd first how to learn how other people figure stuff out.

And my personal example aside, from (long-ago) discussions, I don't know how much these are outliers. I've met people with very good (in at least one case, close to eidetic even?) memory, people who knew a subject before even taking it in university, etc., whose marks had nothing to do with work ethic. Similarly for LSAT, some people just got it from the start.

It appears what I considered an outlier may not be!

Although, for what it’s worth, my philosophy program didn’t have students scoring As without putting in serious effort into their papers, and my LSAT review group didn’t have anyone nailing 160 from the start.

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1 minute ago, epeeist said:

[emphasis added]

I think a great lawyer does need to be very intelligent. Noting that greatness does not always correlate with success (think Van Gogh or any other number of artists...and contrariwise people who have been very successful without being great).

I do agree that a good, or even merely competent, lawyer does not have to be so smart. I think average or maybe above-average intelligence is enough, if the person knows their limits. Someone more intelligent, but with an inflated sense of their abilities (Dunning-Kruger?) may be more dangerous than someone less so, but who knows their limitations.

As for ambition, not so much, except that a successful sole practitioner needs ambition/drive/entrepreneurship to do well, especially if they're going to earn enough to pay an articling student, rather than just having an unpaid one (hey, I'm trying to relate to the topic at least occasionally!).

Now we have the issue of defining greatness. I do agree with you in a sense, though.

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1 minute ago, TdK said:

It appears what I considered an outlier may not be!

Although, for what it’s worth, my philosophy program didn’t have students scoring As without putting in serious effort into their papers, and my LSAT review group didn’t have anyone nailing 160 from the start.

Then your philosophy program and LSAT review group must have been a bunch of ------

But seriously, we hold you subomeguloids in the highest regard.

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18 hours ago, Diplock said:

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. There IS an interesting argument to be made for more closely tying available workers in each trade/profession to available jobs. But that argument essentially presupposes a FAR more managed economy than we currently have. Maybe not communism, but something closer to classic socialism at least. 

 Anyone who really wants that for legal training needs to show me either (a) why the practice of law is so damn special that it deserves to be an exception to the economy generally, or (b) some true commitment to reforming the whole system, that goes beyond rank and naked self-interest. Mainly, it's been my observation, that the people who complain most are those who are very, very happy to reap the rewards of our competitive economic marketplace so long as they are winning, but complain bitterly when they lose.

Excessive focus on articling as the focal point of all this supposed unfairness to law students and would-be lawyers is a red herring. Students complain about whatever hurdle is in their way. Weak applicants insist they deserve a chance in law school. Weak law graduates insist they deserve a chance to become licensed. Weak job seekers argue they shouldn't face excessive completion for jobs and clients, BECAUSE they were allowed to attend law school and become licensed to practice.

Get comfortable with the competition for what you want. Or at least be intellectually honest and argue for socialism. You can't have it both ways. 

To preface, I generally agree with you as far as competition and the free market are concerned, the inherent benefits to those on top, and moreso that not all those pushing for reform are doing it out of much more than self-interest, entitlement or resentment. But to answer your question of why I think the practice of law could be argued to be treated differently than say tradespeople is the amount of investment and risk involved in completing that education.

I've known and employed DOZENS of tradespeople, teachers, nurses, and others working on the practical components of education or in between apprenticeship jobs.  Even the teachers I've employed can often spend 5 or more years on supply lists before even an LTO position frees up.  The real difference between other prospective career-seeking graduates and lawyers, for example, is that most (almost all?) other professions are able to service their student loans working regular service jobs while waiting for a job opportunity. A law student seeking articles would drown in debt and probably face bankruptcy if they had to wait a comparable 5+ years for a reasonably well-paying, relevant, full time position to open up.  In that regard J.D. graduates resemble M.D. graduates more than most (any?) other graduates of post-degree programs regardless of who is ultimately paying the wages (Province vs Private sector), and thus I can see the benefit of matching positions with graduates if the problem continues t compound. I would think this escalation would be more a result of skyrocketing law school tuitions (and the inherent debt increases) and market saturation than it would be about evolving graduates' expectations or entitlements, but I could very well be wrong.  Either way, I don't really see this coming to a head until the day that articling for free is the norm,  finding articles becomes too difficult that graduates ARE drowning in debt and have enough free time and concern to complain about it in sufficient quantities.

That being said, if articling positions were to become managed I imagine we would see even more unpaid or underpaid articles, as the burden would effectively be transferred to the practitioners irrespective of demand. If this were to happen, I think it would make more sense to tie the required practical component of articling into the legal education itself (as Bora Laskin has), so that the risk of not finding articles (or the unlikelihood of being paid if secured) could be managed more realistically by incoming law students.  Many here are quick to assert that prospective law students should be more aware of the job market before committing to LS, but how do you know as a 0L if you will end up at the bottom of your class prior to starting? Or that your personality won't be well received in interviews? Or that you won't "fit" with firms in the fields of law you are most keen to work in (and not even understand why)? Or what the legal market will really be like in 3 years?  I would say conversely those that are quick to dismiss these concerns over articling have never sat on 125K in student debt without a good enough job to foreseeably service the interest payments -let alone start paying off your principal- and no ability to hang a shingle as a solo and take a chance on their own (and thus effectively take accountability for their failure to secure articles). The fact that you can't even take a chance on your own as a solo after graduating law school (if you fail to secure articles) shows interventionism more than free market in this regard. Thankfully, as of now it doesn't seem to be a big enough problem to warrant change, but what do I know.

As well-informed as a prospective law student can be, there are still considerations (whether or not you'll find articles most obviously to me) that are more or less impossible to determine prior to matriculation.  Yes, it's risk assessment, obviously. But we aren't working with complete information to assess that risk as 0L's.

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Why should I feel sorry for some shmuck that borrowed 125K and can't or won't  find a job that pays enough to make a few hundred in interest payments a month? 

And do people think if they had a license they would start earning enough as a sole? They don't have the money to invest in a practice, they need to get a job, either way. If they can't get articles no one is going to want them as an associate, either.

Edited by QuincyWagstaff
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10 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Why should I feel sorry for some shmuck that borrowed 125K and can't or won't  find a job that pays enough to make a few hundred in interest payments a month? 

And do people think if they had a license they would start earning enough as a sole? They don't have the money to invest in a practice, they need to get a job, either way. If they can't get articles no one is going to want them as an associate, either.

I work full-time a non-law job and only practice law part-time as a sole practitioner. By choice, not unemployability!

But if someone is competent and of good character, what does it matter whether they're good at finding employment? I know disabled people who have difficulty finding employment for that reason - doesn't make them unqualified at their jobs. If a disabled law school graduate can't find work (and can't prove discrimination) that's bad, but it would be worse if they were prevented from even becoming a lawyer because of that difficulty. And similarly if they have difficulty for non-OHRC reasons unrelated to competence.

I want market forces to decide after people are called to the bar. And, if it's truly necessary, in finding articles. But I don't think it is - we already (in Ontario) accept that clerkship instead of articles, or Laurentian, or the LPP, is a substitute for articles. And we accept that someone who articles in one field of law only, is licensed and can do anything (subject only to their own ethical judgment, which even if honest is subject to self-perception flaws).

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3 hours ago, epeeist said:

I work full-time a non-law job and only practice law part-time as a sole practitioner. By choice, not unemployability!

But if someone is competent and of good character, what does it matter whether they're good at finding employment? I know disabled people who have difficulty finding employment for that reason - doesn't make them unqualified at their jobs. If a disabled law school graduate can't find work (and can't prove discrimination) that's bad, but it would be worse if they were prevented from even becoming a lawyer because of that difficulty. And similarly if they have difficulty for non-OHRC reasons unrelated to competence.

I want market forces to decide after people are called to the bar. And, if it's truly necessary, in finding articles. But I don't think it is - we already (in Ontario) accept that clerkship instead of articles, or Laurentian, or the LPP, is a substitute for articles. And we accept that someone who articles in one field of law only, is licensed and can do anything (subject only to their own ethical judgment, which even if honest is subject to self-perception flaws).

Isn’t the argument that students aren’t competent until they’ve completed articling, a clerkship, or the LPP? 

 

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1 hour ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Isn’t the argument that students aren’t competent until they’ve completed articling, a clerkship, or the LPP? 

 

Sure, but you don't need to be competent at getting hired to be competent at doing that. And it is a bit ridiculous that say a tax court clerkship (not to pick on that, just trying to pick something specialized) qualifies you to practice in any field of law?

That is, I'd have more sympathy/support for the articling requirement if it was e.g., must have family law, and corporate, and civil litigation (including client interviews and motions and conducting your own small claims court trial), and criminal, and IP, and tax, and real estate, or maybe more modestly, litigation of some sort (if one wants to be admitted as a barrister...), but whose articles are going to have all that?

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14 minutes ago, epeeist said:

Sure, but you don't need to be competent at getting hired to be competent at doing that. And it is a bit ridiculous that say a tax court clerkship (not to pick on that, just trying to pick something specialized) qualifies you to practice in any field of law?

That is, I'd have more sympathy/support for the articling requirement if it was e.g., must have family law, and corporate, and civil litigation (including client interviews and motions and conducting your own small claims court trial), and criminal, and IP, and tax, and real estate, or maybe more modestly, litigation of some sort (if one wants to be admitted as a barrister...), but whose articles are going to have all that?

Yeah, I would agree that we should have stricter requirements for practice. But to me that's an argument for more restrictions on post-articling practice, rather than an argument against articling. 

I think the concerns over the "crisis" are a bit bunk when you consider the LPP exists. The LPP essentially gets rid of the requirement to convince an employer to hire you (in so far as I'm not particularly concerned about anyone who is so incapable as to be unable to find an unpaid work placement for four months with the help and support of both the LSO and Ryerson), while still ensuring some level of competence. 

I think we're more or less on the same overarching side on the articling issue, though, so I may be preaching to the choir. 

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10 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Yeah, I would agree that we should have stricter requirements for practice. But to me that's an argument for more restrictions on post-articling practice, rather than an argument against articling. 

I think the concerns over the "crisis" are a bit bunk when you consider the LPP exists. The LPP essentially gets rid of the requirement to convince an employer to hire you (in so far as I'm not particularly concerned about anyone who is so incapable as to be unable to find an unpaid work placement for four months with the help and support of both the LSO and Ryerson), while still ensuring some level of competence. 

I think we're more or less on the same overarching side on the articling issue, though, so I may be preaching to the choir. 

LPP only one province, and I think hasn't been renewed.

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When I articled, just as we were beginning to really acknowledge the articling crisis, I was at a 3 lawyer firm and, like the other articling students, making less than minimum wage.

 

There are a few things contributing the the rapid decline of salaries for articling positions and for associate positions in general (though, the hardest hit are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year lawyers).

 

1. The downturn in the market has not helped, and a lot of firms are feeling some level of pinch (it's felt at the lower end more than at the top).

 

2. The articling crisis is caused by a massive glut of new law students. You can thank places like Bond, City of London, Leicester, and Cooley for that.

 

3. Because of the increased demand, students do start to ask about articling at least partly for free. From their point of view, this makes sense. They didn't get paid for going to school and they view the articling term as just another 10 months of school. Small price to pay for being able to get your license. I remember that I had already received notification that I had passed my Bar Exams and all that was left was for me to article (after I finished my LL.M.). I was getting desperate and hoped that if I just got my license I could turn things around. Hence how I ended up working for below minimum wage. there was just no other way to do it. As it stands, I was lucky, because that same firm further slashed the pay for articling students and I'm told that some now article for free.

 

4. It is so bad out there for spots that I had someone actually offer to PAY ME to take them on as an articling student. I thought that was ludicrous but, after thinking about it, I realized that it's in the same thought as "well, I could work for free..." because you just think of it as another year of school. I sometimes wonder if I'd have been willing to do that if I'd gotten a bit more desperate... (also, no, I did not take that person's money, nor would I. It just seems cruel).

 

5. Given the sizable oversupply that has absolutely surged just in the last 5 to 8 years, the fact that people are prepared to work for minimum wage and less just to get a job, and given that there are zero real incentives provided by the LSUC to take on an articling student (like how about a reduction in the licensing fees or something?), the market forces push things towards a salary drop.

 

BUT IT GETS WORSE!

 

6. Little factoid for those who didn't go through the LSUC information release in the wake of re-evaluating the LPP course. You know that big surge of NCA candidates that has resulted in the surging demand? These candidates are also most likely to not secure a job after articling. Also, a sizable number of people in this group are immigrants getting their credentials transferred, which is significant because immigrants are more likely to take the risk of entrepreneurship and try to start their own firm. This means that you have an increasing number of people who are just starting out, who are taking on the expense of setting up their own firm, and who, therefore, simply don't have much money available. When the market conditions provide incentive to view articling students as cheap labour, and when you need help but don't have any money, and when the price of an articling salary is already dropping, and when you have students who are desperate to just get articling over with so they can get their license, then you have a recipe for salaries to bottom out.

 

What's that? You would never work for wages that low? Okay, good for you. Guess what, though... the articling applicant behind you will. That's the person who sees how much debt they went into to get the degree and figures they'll never make the money back unless they get their license, so they'll take the short term hit to make it happen.

 

Welcome to the shit sandwich, ladies and gentlemen!

 

I always chuckle a bit when I see people post "if you can't afford to pay them X then you shouldn't hire anyone." Firstly, that's not the market incentive. Secondly, that leaves the struggling articling student even worse off because now you've taken away their choice.

 

I hated that I worked for less than minimum wage for abuse, racist **sholes. I felt like shit the entire time. I could have dealt with the lack of money if it weren't so awful in all the other ways. It also didn't help that they were complete morons who were thoroughly ignorant of the law and legal procedure, but on the upside that meant I had to teach myself just about everything. Plus, the fact that they were lazy meant I had a ton of stuff to do and experience is a great teacher.

 

As much as I hated it, I'd have been worse off without the choice. Enduring that time allowed me to get my license. Once I had my license, I got to strike out on my own. I'm still not making much money (actually, I'm still making below minimum wage given what it costs to operate a firm), but at least I'm building something.

 

But I digress...

 

Yes, the salary situation is still crap. If anything, it's being perpetuated by the worsening of all the above issues I described (the market has still not fully rebounded and many of us took a hit when the housing market turned south about a year ago. Fewer house closings means fewer house deals that I'll get paid for).

 

The number of people looking for articling positions in small law where such positions do still open up more regularly (larger firms tend to recruit much earlier) has only increased. Oh, and now this will be the last year of the LPP. So whatever pressure the LPP was taking off the shortage (which I'm not sure was all that much) is going to be returned to the articling system.

 

Not only has it gotten worse, but I don't think it's reached its bottom yet.

This, and other scary stories, are made available to you by the good people at LSUC. LSUC: where the desire for the power to regulate meets the laziness to not do so unless it means taking your money.

 

Welcome to the profession.

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On 06/08/2018 at 2:35 PM, Gomez said:

When people ask how much I make as an articling student I'm ashamed to tell them. I have friends who graduated with great marks working in big law who are making 60k. I'm making a meagre 800/mth, but the only thing that keeps me going is the fact that once I'm called better opportunities will open up. 

Correction: 500/mth*

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A mandate forcing firms to pay for articling—even minimum wage—would further decrease the limited number of positions, effectively making this crisis worse. To add to that, after articling, job prospects are not very bright either. The focus should be on de-saturation of the market so that lawyers can pay off the absurd amount of student debt owing. A good idea would be for law schools to stop increasing class sizes. 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, HarveyBirdmanberg said:

A mandate forcing firms to pay for articling—even minimum wage—would further decrease the limited number of positions, effectively making this crisis worse. To add to that, after articling, job prospects are not very bright either. The focus should be on de-saturation of the market so that lawyers can pay off the absurd amount of student debt owing. A good idea would be for law schools to stop increasing class sizes. 

 

 

Why is that a good idea? There’s no reason for law to become even more inaccessible. 

If students want law to be a career and don’t like their chances at that career post-grad, they should not attend law school. 

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