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Where do McGill grads end up? Considerations for anglophones practicing in Montreal?

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I recently got accepted to McGill, which is a dream come true but I am trying to figure out whether it would be practical for me to accept, as one of my biggest priorities is attending school in the place I will eventually end up practicing. I am hoping that some current McGill students or grads could help answer some questions.

1. Where do most anglophone McGill students end up articling and practicing law? Does a large proportion stay in Montreal? Does a big proportion go to Toronto?

2. How lucrative is it for an anglophone to practice law in English in Montreal? My preference is to practice law in my native language (I am not saying I never want to speak in French; I know that in Montreal I would have to speak in French, but I just wouldn't want all of my work to be in French). My impression is that law is a career where it really helps to display a mastery of language, and the ability to use it in a very nuanced manner. As such, I worry that I would always be at a disadvantage if I were practicing in a language I learned in university as opposed to my native language. I recently talked to an anglophone lawyer practicing in Montreal who told me that being an anglophone is actually an advantage in a lot of contexts, such as corporate law when dealing with corporations whose main headquarters are in anglophone jurisdictions. His impression is that Montreal is a truly bilingual city, and it is not a problem to practice mostly in English, with some interactions with clients or colleagues being in French. I just wanted second opinions on this. For context, I am currently interested in labour and employment, but I know that could change.

3. How difficult is it to be called to the bar in Quebec? Do many anglophones get called to the Quebec bar? My plan would be to immerse myself in French as much as possible if I went to McGill so hopefully by the end of my studies this would not be too great a challenge.

4. My impression is that associate salaries are higher in Montreal than Calgary. I was wondering if anyone has information on billing targets at large firms.

 

Thank you!

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It's worth distinguishing between an anglophone who is fluent in french and an anglophone who muddles through the french parts of the program.

1) I'm tempted to say most anglophones leave Quebec. That's much less true for the ones who are comfortable in french but I think it's fair to say that most people who come from out of province don't end up staying. And yes, there's a large contingent in Toronto.

2) You'll be at a sizable disadvantage if your french isn't up to par. There's certainly lawyers in Montreal with substandard French but they usually have something else to offer that makes it worth keeping them around. Also,  I don't see speaking English as an advantage given that virtually every lawyer in downtown Montreal speaks passable English.

3) I don't know but I imagine it's not too hard.

4) This surprises me. I'm too lazy to look it up but conventional wisdom is that Calgary pays more (in the same ball park as Toronto). I think Montreal salaries are comparable to those in Vancouver.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond.

 

22 hours ago, msk2012 said:

1) I'm tempted to say most anglophones leave Quebec. That's much less true for the ones who are comfortable in french but I think it's fair to say that most people who come from out of province don't end up staying. And yes, there's a large contingent in Toronto.

This is worrisome to me. I assume most people go into the program being comfortable reading, watching movies, conversing etc. in French, and yet most choose not to practice in Montreal. I guess it speaks to how hard it is to compete with native speakers?

22 hours ago, msk2012 said:

4) This surprises me. I'm too lazy to look it up but conventional wisdom is that Calgary pays more (in the same ball park as Toronto). I think Montreal salaries are comparable to those in Vancouver.

I am just comparing first year associate salaries at Norton and McCarthy in Calgary (80k source: YYC associates survey) vs. Montreal (106k source:

).

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As someone who has worked in Quebec for the past two years, I would also caution you to consider the differences in income tax between provinces which may lessen the pereceived differences in salaries

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Yeah. Also to note, the class is about 67 percent Anglophone. 5-15 percent end up in New York. 10-15 percent end up in Toronto. 

Those Anglophone speakers almost always preferred to leave to those cities, not because they were afraid of French practice/competing with native speakers, but because they wanted those jobs. This is already a third of the Anglophone population (though note, not all of these students are Anglophone)

 

As erinl2 said a number end up in Ottawa. Some small percentage go out west. A not insignificant number go abroad somewhere.

 

At McGill people often don't choose to leave Montreal because of French. Some do but it's often not that. McGill has a decent international/national reach (as far as Canadian schools go for international) so people often leave because they have a lot of options outside if the Montreal legal sphere.

Edited by pzabbythesecond
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26 minutes ago, couscous said:

As someone who has worked in Quebec for the past two years, I would also caution you to consider the differences in income tax between provinces which may lessen the pereceived differences in salaries

True, but my impression is that cost of living is more reasonable in Montreal.

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8 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

At McGill people often don't choose to leave Montreal because of French. Some do but it's often not that. McGill has a decent international/national reach (as far as Canadian schools go for international) so people often leave because they have a lot of options outside if the Montreal legal sphere.

Good to know. Even if people don't leave because they aren't worried about competing in a foreign language, I was wondering if you have any perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of choosing to practice law in Montreal as an anglophone. In my case, my reading and listening are good. I read novels in French (my reading is a bit slower than my reading in English, but not by much) and watch French movies (generally don't have problems, except if the movies feature bratty teenagers who use a lot of unfamiliar slang). My accent is horrible though, and my range of expression is nowhere near as rich as it is in English.

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1 hour ago, lau said:

Good to know. Even if people don't leave because they aren't worried about competing in a foreign language, I was wondering if you have any perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of choosing to practice law in Montreal as an anglophone. In my case, my reading and listening are good. I read novels in French (my reading is a bit slower than my reading in English, but not by much) and watch French movies (generally don't have problems, except if the movies feature bratty teenagers who use a lot of unfamiliar slang). My accent is horrible though, and my range of expression is nowhere near as rich as it is in English.

Reading and listening are good? What about speaking? Practising law is all about the speaking. 

I haven't practised law in Montreal, but I am very familiar with it as a city as I have lived there. It is a truly bilingual city and I would think living there without being truly bilingual - almost equally comfortable in both English and French - would be a disadvantage generally.

I have also heard that the Quebec bar exam is harder to pass without very good French.

http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/in-quebec-more-anglophones-are-choosing-french-universities

It was only once she had graduated that she realized the full benefits of her choice. Ninety-five per cent of legal work in the province is done in French, she discovered, including discussion between lawyers, procedural work and most courtroom litigation. The bar exam is mainly in French, and U de M ranks highest in percentage of students who pass the bar on the first try. Trifiro passed in 2013, and now works in civil commercial litigation and family law.

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1 hour ago, lau said:

Good to know. Even if people don't leave because they aren't worried about competing in a foreign language, I was wondering if you have any perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of choosing to practice law in Montreal as an anglophone. In my case, my reading and listening are good. I read novels in French (my reading is a bit slower than my reading in English, but not by much) and watch French movies (generally don't have problems, except if the movies feature bratty teenagers who use a lot of unfamiliar slang). My accent is horrible though, and my range of expression is nowhere near as rich as it is in English.

I couldn't tell you because I'm not practising yet myself. I've been told Anglophones who aren't perfectly fluent can make it here and that their careers are fine. There are firms who focus on Anglophone clients even. 

 

Keep in mind your French won't remain static (If you choose to work on it; it can remain static given it's a bilingual city). So don't imagine you with your French now practising. 

I can't be of more help though. Sorry.

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1 hour ago, lau said:

True, but my impression is that cost of living is more reasonable in Montreal.

It is, especially housing. And tuition is less.

Edited by providence
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http://www.sollaw.ca/fr/blogue/26-the-challenges-and-rewards-of-practicing-law-in-montreal

Firstly, the English-speaking members of the Montreal Bar are not only highly bilingual - the highest of any Bar anywhere – but arguably the most “polyvalents” juridically. Indeed, for almost a generation now, a significant number of Montreal’s anglophone lawyers and an ever increasing number of francophone lawyers have had the benefit of being trained trans-systemically in an integrated fashion, both in the two great legal traditions of the civil and common law.

Edited by providence

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13 hours ago, providence said:

From this site: 

 

Man, I had baggage in 2010.

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On 1/11/2018 at 9:53 PM, providence said:

Reading and listening are good? What about speaking? Practising law is all about the speaking. 

I haven't practised law in Montreal, but I am very familiar with it as a city as I have lived there. It is a truly bilingual city and I would think living there without being truly bilingual - almost equally comfortable in both English and French - would be a disadvantage generally.

This is my fear--I have a good ability to manipulate language in English, but my range of expression in French is more limited. I worry that my French will never be as good as my English, and aside from the Nabokovs of the world, I doubt that most people can become as proficient in foreign languages as they are in their native language (if they learned the foreign language as an adult). I had several brilliant professors in university who, despite living in Canada for decades, still frequently made mistakes when speaking and writing in English. Nobody would say these professors are not bilingual and they are very well-known and respected in their fields--but practicing law is a whole different ball game. That is why I would prefer to be able to speak in English when making my case, even though in my personal life I would like as many opportunities as possible to speak in French and living in Montreal would certainly help.

The idea of studying at L'UdeM to really focus on french is interesting, and one I had not thought of. If I had my heart set on practicing law in Montreal, it would be a tempting option.

Edited by lau

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