lumberjack23

What area of law should I pursue

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It might be a bit early to ask this as an incoming 1L but I wonder what kind of ECs and courses I should gravitate towards to fit my goal. I am interested in business law, but not the mindless M&A transaction work in corporate law, but the area that pertains to international business transaction, or even the policy aspect such as trade treaties. Is there an established career path for this and what resources are there that could help me get there? Would appreciate some pointers. 

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Posted (edited)

As an incoming 1L, please tell me more about how mindless M&A transactions are; I'd be interested in hearing about your legal experience in this area.

Anyways, if you want to do "international business transactions", most of them are going to be M&A deals. I work on "international business transactions" now, and while not in an M&A context, I had to do a lot of M&A to get where I am. 

A graduate degree in policy, at not a law degree, would be the established career path to being a policy wonk.

Edited by conge
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It's a bit early, your 1L curriculum is set for you, and there are lots of ECs you can pick that will give you some introductory legal skills that you can market when applying for your first job. By the time you're at the point where you're picking your classes you'll have a better idea of what you want to explore, and what will be useful for you moving forward. 

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OK, Conge gave what would have been my immediate flippant comment. But let me ask you this question: what do you think of as an "international business transaction"? Cross-border M&A work would be my first response - since it accounts for a huge portion of what I would consider to be "high-end" business law in Canada. 

But, are you thinking about cross border commercial transactions, generally? Maybe dealing with cross-border loan or supply agreements.  Maybe customs or trade law? (Personally, having helped on a number of customs files - customs issues often overlap with HST issues - I found that area to be exceedingly technical and boring. But some people like it, I have a friend who recently wrote a lengthy commentary on the latest judicial pronouncements on the proper tariff classifications of hockey gloves). Let's define what you think you want to do, then we can talk about what areas of law might interest. 

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Not to put down an interest in business law, but keep an open mind in 1L. You have no idea what will strike your fancy. It's a good thing your courses are picked for you. 

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There is no established career path for any specific type of law. There is an established career path to becoming a lawyer, and if you've been accepted to law school, you are on it. What you do as a lawyer depends on what work you can find or what work is assigned to you at your firm. There's no pro bono cross-board transaction students of Canada club.

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Posted (edited)

I should've been more specific. Surely most of the transaction work is M&A. I guess the kind of work that would bore me out of my mind is to meticulously go over a contract line by line just so the deal doesn't break. What would excite me is litigation, commercial arbitration, and treaty negotiation (I suppose things that don't take place in national court is a good way to define it). A quick google search suggests that Osgoode actually has an LLM specializing in this area whereas Toronto doesn't. However, I can see quite a few classes at Toronto that are relevant. Still, what should I do to put me on the right track?

Edited by lumberjack23

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52 minutes ago, lumberjack23 said:

I should've been more specific. Surely most of the transaction work is M&A. I guess the kind of work that would bore me out of my mind is to meticulously go over a contract line by line just so the deal doesn't break. What would excite me is litigation, commercial arbitration, and treaty negotiation (I suppose things that don't take place in national court is a good way to define it). A quick google search suggests that Osgoode actually has an LLM specializing in this area whereas Toronto doesn't. However, I can see quite a few classes at Toronto that are relevant. Still, what should I do to put me on the right track?

I spend plenty of time at work meticulously going over commercial documents line by line. I guess it's not the most exciting thing that I do, but something you have to grasp as a law student is that the work that needs to be done isn't always exciting, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important or that it doesn't need to be performed well. I will concede that you need the right personality for it, it's very detail oriented and the work can fly at you pretty quickly, it isn't everyone's cup of tea. That being said I like transactional corporate work, and I certainly don't find it boring. 

The thing about the areas of law that you mentioned is that they won't always be exciting either. My litigation focused friends spend all sorts of time working on factums related to disputes that they don't find interesting. It's the same thing as I face, as a student you do the work that needs to be done, regardless of whether it is exciting or not. 

Now as far as the courses you can take in the areas you've noted, I've taken classes in those subject areas (international trade arbitration and the like), and yeah, a lot of it is really high level and really interesting, so I can see why you'd be intrigued by it. I just think you're kind of putting the cart before the horse here, there's a lot of work that needs to be done before you can make the sort of decision you seem to want to make here. If I was you I'd be focused on being ready to go when 1L starts so you can keep your options open when you are in a position to figure out where you want to go and what you want to do. 

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That's fair. I knew I was thinking ahead of myself. Gotta sit down and grind first. 

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7 hours ago, lumberjack23 said:

I should've been more specific. Surely most of the transaction work is M&A. I guess the kind of work that would bore me out of my mind is to meticulously go over a contract line by line just so the deal doesn't break. What would excite me is litigation, commercial arbitration, and treaty negotiation (I suppose things that don't take place in national court is a good way to define it). A quick google search suggests that Osgoode actually has an LLM specializing in this area whereas Toronto doesn't. However, I can see quite a few classes at Toronto that are relevant. Still, what should I do to put me on the right track?

It's very hard to give advice since you aren't giving us much guidance on what you are interested in. 

 It sounds like you're more interested in litigation than solicitor work. I would caution, though, if reviewing contracts line by line is boring, imagine reviewing tens of thousands of emails looking for some that might be relevant.  Or reviewing those same contracts , line-by-line, 5 years later trying to come up with an interpretation that will win in court or in front of an arbitrator.  

In terms of "things that don't take place in a national court", I'm not sure what you have in mind. Like NAFTA or WTO Disputes? The reality is there are a handful of such Disputes in a decade.  Are you thinking commercial aribtration - basically litigation outside a court?  

If you're thinking of working with treaties, OK - what types of treaties are you thinking of? The people who work on trade treaties are different from those who negotiate tax treaties or environmental treaties. What substantive areas of law interest you?

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3 hours ago, maximumbob said:

It's very hard to give advice since you aren't giving us much guidance on what you are interested in. 

 It sounds like you're more interested in litigation than solicitor work. I would caution, though, if reviewing contracts line by line is boring, imagine reviewing tens of thousands of emails looking for some that might be relevant.  Or reviewing those same contracts , line-by-line, 5 years later trying to come up with an interpretation that will win in court or in front of an arbitrator.  

In terms of "things that don't take place in a national court", I'm not sure what you have in mind. Like NAFTA or WTO Disputes? The reality is there are a handful of such Disputes in a decade.  Are you thinking commercial aribtration - basically litigation outside a court?  

If you're thinking of working with treaties, OK - what types of treaties are you thinking of? The people who work on trade treaties are different from those who negotiate tax treaties or environmental treaties. What substantive areas of law interest you?

Thanks, this is actually very helpful. Tbh I was really just fishing for ideas. And I know that entry level of any high power profession is a lot of grunt work, which I've come to terms with. From what I heard about IB, PE, and consulting, work gets more and more interesting as you become senior. I just want to see if there's light at the end of the tunnel for business lawyers. 

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On 8/12/2017 at 11:28 AM, lumberjack23 said:

I should've been more specific. Surely most of the transaction work is M&A. I guess the kind of work that would bore me out of my mind is to meticulously go over a contract line by line just so the deal doesn't break. What would excite me is litigation, commercial arbitration, and treaty negotiation (I suppose things that don't take place in national court is a good way to define it). A quick google search suggests that Osgoode actually has an LLM specializing in this area whereas Toronto doesn't. However, I can see quite a few classes at Toronto that are relevant. Still, what should I do to put me on the right track?

Oh boy. The first thing I want to mention is that which classes you take in law school will be extremely unlikely to determine if you end up doing transactional work you find boring or transactional work you find interesting. I would not consider that.

The second is that if you're interested in international arbitration, you will most likely spend your early career doing document review and other yeoman work.

The third is that LLMs are not important unless you want to be a prof or you get your first law degree in a less prestigious jurisdiction.

And fourth is that treaty negotiation happens through foreign policy officials and policy wonks, and lawyers with 20+ years of applicable trade law experience, often both solicitors and litigators. 

On 8/13/2017 at 0:57 AM, lumberjack23 said:

Thanks, this is actually very helpful. Tbh I was really just fishing for ideas. And I know that entry level of any high power profession is a lot of grunt work, which I've come to terms with. From what I heard about IB, PE, and consulting, work gets more and more interesting as you become senior. I just want to see if there's light at the end of the tunnel for business lawyers. 

Some lawyers like the things you're putting down. M&A work moves from being diligence/fact-based grunt work to drafting work to reviewing/project management/client managing work to structuring/business development work as you move up the food chain in a law firm. It can also lead to a significant number of exits onto different career paths, including different areas of law within a firm, government work, regulatory work and international policy work. Litigators actually have - I understand - far fewer exits. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not sure that there are fewer exits for litigators. For example, for many companies their in-house counsel deal principally with litigation arising from their business. I think of one friend of mine who is GC for a small public company. He deals with leases, contracts, acquisitions and all that sort of stuff, but he also manages all the litigation that flows from that business - slip and fall artists, employment Disputes, human rights claims, contract fights, etc.  

Otherwise I agree entirely. 

Edited by maximumbob

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Posted (edited)

On ‎12‎/‎08‎/‎2017 at 1:49 AM, lumberjack23 said:

That's fair. I knew I was thinking ahead of myself. Gotta sit down and grind first. 

This is a good attitude to have; work hard and stay humble. The path to the things you want will become more clear after a few years of law school, summering, articles, etc.

Edited by conge

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