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corruptfate

Exchange versus taking more "relevant" courses

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Hi everyone, 

Exchange applications are due soon at my school and I'm trying to figure out what I should do. During the fall semester, I took several criminal law courses with the intent in pursuing a career in criminal law. However, my interests shifted by the time OCIs rolled around, which I was then fortunate enough to secure a 2L position at a full service firm. At this point, the only corporate course I've taken is corporate law in 1L. Due to my school's selection of courses, I likely won't be able to take any corporate-related courses in winter term. 

So my question is, should I go on exchange?

On the one hand, I am very interested in doing an exchange in 3L. On the other, I'm concerned I will be at a disadvantage (in terms of knowledge) by taking fewer corporate-related courses. Furthermore, I'm not sure if it will affect how the firm perceives me if my transcript shows that I have only taken 1 corporate course and the rest being criminal (although one of those courses is evidence, which is useful in civil litigation). If I do go on exchange, I will have 2 electives in 3L which I plan to use to take income tax and some other corporate course ( trusts, bankruptcy, employment, securities, and M&A). If I decide not to go on exchange, it will leave me with a 6 electives. 

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13 minutes ago, neymarsr said:

Is your firm even gonna ask you for a transcript now that you're hired?

I’m not sure about my firm, but I’ve heard some firms do

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58 minutes ago, corruptfate said:

Hi everyone, 

Exchange applications are due soon at my school and I'm trying to figure out what I should do. During the fall semester, I took several criminal law courses with the intent in pursuing a career in criminal law. However, my interests shifted by the time OCIs rolled around, which I was then fortunate enough to secure a 2L position at a full service firm. At this point, the only corporate course I've taken is corporate law in 1L. Due to my school's selection of courses, I likely won't be able to take any corporate-related courses in winter term. 

So my question is, should I go on exchange?

On the one hand, I am very interested in doing an exchange in 3L. On the other, I'm concerned I will be at a disadvantage (in terms of knowledge) by taking fewer corporate-related courses. Furthermore, I'm not sure if it will affect how the firm perceives me if my transcript shows that I have only taken 1 corporate course and the rest being criminal (although one of those courses is evidence, which is useful in civil litigation). If I do go on exchange, I will have 2 electives in 3L which I plan to use to take income tax and some other corporate course ( trusts, bankruptcy, employment, securities, and M&A). If I decide not to go on exchange, it will leave me with a 6 electives. 

I'm not sure the firms' thinking is what should drive your planning - most firms assume (correctly) that you know shit all and they'll have to teach you from scratch.  It true, I suppose, that your course choices might be a way of effectively signalling interest (e.g., I'd probably be worried about hiring a new call or young lateral who expressed an interest in, say, trusts or securities law, but didn't take the courses in law school), but I don't know how much weight to put on that, if you article at  firm that practices in those areas and you can name drop a partner or two from those practices, that's going to count for more.  Firms do ask for transcripts (at least in the first few years) - but probably want to see good grades. 

That said, I'm a big fan of getting as much exposure to the relevant law (e.g., not "Space law" or "Surfing Tort Law") as you can.  If you plan on being a business lawyer, you should probably take income tax (corporate tax too, if possible), securities, trusts (every lawyer should have to take trusts - how many lawyers get in trouble for fucking up their trust accounts?) and evidence (which you've probably taken) - these are courses that cover topics you will have to deal with in a business law practice (whether as a litigator or solicitor) and which are damned hard to pick up on your own.  Other courses you might consider are things like bankruptcy, secured transactions, M&A (whatever that is), employment, remedies - these are things that will also come up routinely, but which you can probably pick up a basic knowledge of on your own.  It's not a question of being an expert in those area, it's a question of knowing what you don't know - I'm always blown away by the number of senior lawyers who don't know shit about what a trust is, or don't know how privilege works.  And, from a practical perspective, having a basic knowledge will at least mean you can understand the language the partner is using when she's asking you to do some research for you, even if you haven't the slightest fucking idea what she's talking about.  

I get the appeal of spending a term smoking pot and taking space law in Amsterdam, but you're training to be a professional with a 40 year career ahead of you.  Lean everything you can now.  

Somewhere here I've posted a list of courses I think business lawyers should take.  It's been a while, but I suspect that list is consistent.

Edited by maximumbob
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1 hour ago, corruptfate said:

Hi everyone, 

Exchange applications are due soon at my school and I'm trying to figure out what I should do. During the fall semester, I took several criminal law courses with the intent in pursuing a career in criminal law. However, my interests shifted by the time OCIs rolled around, which I was then fortunate enough to secure a 2L position at a full service firm. At this point, the only corporate course I've taken is corporate law in 1L. Due to my school's selection of courses, I likely won't be able to take any corporate-related courses in winter term. 

So my question is, should I go on exchange?

On the one hand, I am very interested in doing an exchange in 3L. On the other, I'm concerned I will be at a disadvantage (in terms of knowledge) by taking fewer corporate-related courses. Furthermore, I'm not sure if it will affect how the firm perceives me if my transcript shows that I have only taken 1 corporate course and the rest being criminal (although one of those courses is evidence, which is useful in civil litigation). If I do go on exchange, I will have 2 electives in 3L which I plan to use to take income tax and some other corporate course ( trusts, bankruptcy, employment, securities, and M&A). If I decide not to go on exchange, it will leave me with a 6 electives. 

I strongly advise staying in Canada! 

It's true you won't know much of what you need to know at your firm, but it's well known by now that having exposure to a subject makes it easier to learn in more detail. It's like pre-reading on a bigger scale. 

Bottom line is that imho, being a lawyer means being the best for your client. I think that starts in school by improving your skills and knowledge as best as you can. I have no idea how taking EU corporate law in Ireland would help in the first 10 years of your career. 

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14 minutes ago, grishamlaw said:

I strongly advise staying in Canada! 

It's true you won't know much of what you need to know at your firm, but it's well known by now that having exposure to a subject makes it easier to learn in more detail. It's like pre-reading on a bigger scale. 

Bottom line is that imho, being a lawyer means being the best for your client. I think that starts in school by improving your skills and knowledge as best as you can. I have no idea how taking EU corporate law in Ireland would help in the first 10 years of your career. 

But it might have less time pages to read! (just kidding!:))

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33 minutes ago, providence said:

But it might have less time pages to read! (just kidding!:))

Lol I was just getting over that

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2 hours ago, maximumbob said:

I get the appeal of spending a term smoking pot and taking space law in Amsterdam, but you're training to be a professional with a 40 year career ahead of you.  Lean everything you can now.  

2

Dude, space law is going to be, like, important in the, you know, future. 

Edited by Hesse
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You know the answer. Obviously, learning law is helpful to being a lawyer. Your firm won’t fire you for going on exchange. Smoking a bunch of weed in Europe and partying for three to four months is fun.

Those are the terms. There’s no other point to consider. It’s just a straight up choice of having fun or developing as a future lawyer. Only you can decide which one is more important. 

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I dunno. I never had the chance to do it but can't you still learn valuable things in an exchange? Wouldn't other countries learn about trusts and securities too? 

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48 minutes ago, providence said:

I dunno. I never had the chance to do it but can't you still learn valuable things in an exchange? Wouldn't other countries learn about trusts and securities too? 

Oh. There are tons of things to learn in other law schools. But it hasn’t been my experience that people come back from exchange raving about their newfound fluency in European securities law. 

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3 hours ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

Oh. There are tons of things to learn in other law schools. But it hasn’t been my experience that people come back from exchange raving about their newfound fluency in European securities law. 

And if they did who cares. The likely application of that knowledge is about zero. Sure go on a boondoggle but recognize it for what it is. 

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I’d do the exchange. When I was doing interviews I never cared about your course selection, but having lived and studied in another country instantly makes you a more interesting candidate. If you just spent your time smoking pot and have nothing interesting to say about it, you’ll lose that credit during the interview, so just don’t do that to yourself. 

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17 hours ago, corruptfate said:

If I do go on exchange, I will have 2 electives in 3L which I plan to use to take income tax and some other corporate course ( trusts, bankruptcy, employment, securities, and M&A). If I decide not to go on exchange, it will leave me with a 6 electives. 

I highly recommend going the exchange route. The primary reason is that you say you're "very interested" in doing the exchange, and I think you should do what you're interested in (you'll probably come back for the end of 3L or beginning of articling feeling rejuvenated and happier too), but there's several other key reasons:

  • This is perhaps your last opportunity to live abroad for the foreseeable future. That sounds extreme, but it's likely true. You've embarked on a seemingly unstoppable path: from 3L you'll do articling, then you'll want to be a first year associate, then you'll want to stay for a few years to get experience, then you may have an opportunity to pivot (but that probably won't be to somewhere abroad) or you'll get a mortgage and want to focus your last few years of associateship on making partner, then you'll be a junior partner focused on building your practice, then you'll have kids, then you'll...die? Okay that sounded grim, and there will be plenty of fun times within there that I skipped over, but the point is this: the risk vs. reward to live abroad will never be as balanced as it is now.
  • You'll have corporate law plus two other corporate electives (based on your quote above). I agree with others above that it does help during articling to have taken related courses, but it's really not that big a deal. Here's my recommendation: figure out what corporate classes you're going to take as your electives in 3L, then pick a couple others that you think would be useful during articling. During your exchange, get summaries for those classes, perch yourself on the banks the Seine with a piping hot latte, and read the summary one evening a week (I mean, it's exchange anyways - you won't be doing much other studying/reading). If you're really keen on an area, find out what the big recent cases in that area are (they'll be in the summary) and Google to find some articles by the big firms about those cases. You'll have a familiarity with the area of law. Remember, taking a course isn't the only way to learn a subject - it's just the only way to be graded on a subject.
  • After being out of law school for even a year you will forget a lot of what you learned in the courses (or at least I did...). You will be able to recognize where there may be issues, but you'll always have to do additional research to figure out the precise nature of that issue and how to solve it. So don't think "I will be a bad partner if I don't take enough corporate courses!". Your firm also will not care about the courses (that's not to imply they'd never care - if someone had no corporate courses at all then they may be like "WTF?"). For the record, I had approximately the same number of corporate-related courses as you will if you go on exchange (corporate + a couple electives) and it was never an issue, either for myself or for the firm.
Edited by TheGazeboEffect
oh god I spelt "Seine" as "Siene" I might've just lost all credibility...
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16 minutes ago, TheGazeboEffect said:

I highly recommend going the exchange route. The primary reason is that you say you're "very interested" in doing the exchange, and I think you should do what you're interested in (you'll probably come back for the end of 3L or beginning of articling feeling rejuvenated and happier too), but there's several other key reasons:

  • This is perhaps your last opportunity to live abroad for the foreseeable future. That sounds extreme, but it's likely true. You've embarked on a seemingly unstoppable path: from 3L you'll do articling, then you'll want to be a first year associate, then you'll want to stay for a few years to get experience, then you may have an opportunity to pivot (but that probably won't be to somewhere abroad) or you'll get a mortgage and want to focus your last few years of associateship on making partner, then you'll be a junior partner focused on building your practice, then you'll have kids, then you'll...die? Okay that sounded grim, and there will be plenty of fun times within there that I skipped over, but the point is this: the risk vs. reward to live abroad will never be as balanced as it is now.
  • You'll have corporate law plus two other corporate electives (based on your quote above). I agree with others above that it does help during articling to have taken related courses, but it's really not that big a deal. Here's my recommendation: figure out what corporate classes you're going to take as your electives in 3L, then pick a couple others that you think would be useful during articling. During your exchange, get summaries for those classes, perch yourself on the banks the Seine with a piping hot latte, and read the summary one evening a week (I mean, it's exchange anyways - you won't be doing much other studying/reading). If you're really keen on an area, find out what the big recent cases in that area are (they'll be in the summary) and Google to find some articles by the big firms about those cases. You'll have a familiarity with the area of law. Remember, taking a course isn't the only way to learn a subject - it's just the only way to be graded on a subject.
  • After being out of law school for even a year you will forget a lot of what you learned in the courses (or at least I did...). You will be able to recognize where there may be issues, but you'll always have to do additional research to figure out the precise nature of that issue and how to solve it. So don't think "I will be a bad partner if I don't take enough corporate courses!". Your firm also will not care about the courses (that's not to imply they'd never care - if someone had no corporate courses at all then they may be like "WTF?"). For the record, I had approximately the same number of corporate-related courses as you will if you go on exchange (corporate + a couple electives) and it was never an issue, either for myself or for the firm.

This makes me incredibly sad :(

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17 hours ago, maximumbob said:

Firms do ask for transcripts (at least in the first few years) - but probably want to see good grades. 

I’ve been told generally that once you’re hired to a full service firm via OCIs, they (the firm) don’t really care about your grades anymore, let alone ask to see your transcripts. I guess it would ultimately vary between firms..? But would you say it’s common for firms to ask for transcripts once you’re ‘in the door’? And for those that do ask for transcripts, would they base how well your grades are by the end of law school on their decision to hire you back?

Edited by Lyricaltoast

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For god's sake go on exchange.  Law school is a total waste of time.  People move to totally different countries from where they went to law school and don't miss a beat.  You should not consider even for a second that you should not participate in an exchange because you might miss out on secured transactions.  If you must, take some relevant corporate law classes while on exchange.  They will be equally useless abroad as in Canada but if it makes you feel better who am I to stand between you and your dream of taking corporate law classes.

Edited by NYCLawyer
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54 minutes ago, Lyricaltoast said:

I’ve been told generally that once you’re hired to a full service firm via OCIs, they (the firm) don’t really care about your grades anymore, let alone ask to see your transcripts. I guess it would ultimately vary between firms..? But would you say it’s common for firms to ask for transcripts once you’re ‘in the door’? And for those that do ask for transcripts, would they base how well your grades are by the end of law school on their decision to hire you back?

Sure, they don't care much about grades once they've hired you - they've seen you work.   But, odds are pretty good that you won't spent your entire career with the firm that hired you in OCIs - in fact they're pretty good that won't be there five years after your OCIs (either because you're not hired back or because you move in your first couple years of practice). And your potential new employer may not know you from Adam.  Those are the people you need to be thinking about. 

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If you’re not hired back after articling at your large full service firm, is the door to a first year associate position at any other large full service firms closed? Or would you be able to apply with decent chances, provided that you received 'good' (on par) training (and maybe a reference letter from the firm)?

Edited by Lyricaltoast

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On January 20, 2018 at 1:36 PM, Lyricaltoast said:

If you’re not hired back after articling at your large full service firm, is the door to a first year associate position at any other large full service firms closed? Or would you be able to apply with decent chances, provided that you received 'good' (on par) training (and maybe a reference letter from the firm)?

It's not neccesarily closed - I've known a number of people who have found positions in those circumstances. But, it's not easy and it kinda depends on what's going on in the market. I had one colleague who didn't get hired at our firm (he was interested in a specific practice area and was really good, but they just didn't have capacity for him) so he ended up getting snagged by a competitor (largely on the strength of recommendation from the partners in that group). I had other colleagues who came on the market just as our firm was ramping up one of its practice areas, so got snaffled up. On the other hand, I know a number of people who did the "Deloitte Doc Review" thing for a while while trying to find such a position (without success). 

People at other firms would always look at you, even if you weren't hired back by your firm (since that's often less a comment on your ability than on firm/practice area need and "fit"). But, it's a competitive market with lots of new calls chasing those positions.  

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