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Showing content with the highest reputation on 08/07/20 in all areas

  1. 3 points
    Was waiting until the end of the first week of August to ensure everyone has a fair shot at this! Giving away first year textbooks to an incoming College of Law student who has accepted their offer and is definitely attending this fall. You must give the books away to an incoming U of S student next year through this forum (publicly) and add one additional primary textbook (if the list changes or there is a new edition) or a secondary text you found useful (i.e. if no changes to the list or new editions; cannot be the Criminal Code). The hope is to extend this generosity to future years for as long as possible.After receipt of the textbooks, the recipient must make a post in this thread.These terms are to be explained to and carried out by future recipients as well.First person to message me and agree to these terms gets the books. I will not be in Saskatoon for the foreseeable future but we can figure out something that works best for both parties.
  2. 3 points
    I think you just need to be honest about why you want to go to these schools, and then massage that into something suitable for applications. E.g., an honest answer might be: "I want to go to the University of Ottawa because my francophone partner lives here, they won't move any further from Quebec, and I don't want to do long distance; also, I really like living here and I won't have to move, disrupt my life, or spend as much money if I go to Ottawa." It might be massaged into: "I really appreciate the bilingual nature of the University of Ottawa and I want to improve my French, etc. etc Also I have lived in Ottawa for several years and have been volunteering at X; I feel a strong connection with my community and I believe going to law school will help me better contribute and being even more a part of my community, etc etc."
  3. 3 points
    Very concerning rumours flying around from well-connected sources about a few Bay Street firms in serious difficulty. Worried about some good friends across the street that have been killing themselves to get ahead in places with an uncertain future. You think all these firms are generally the same, and then something like this happens and there's a huge spectrum from the sky falling to firms doing so well they want to incorporate work-from-home on a permanent basis. Bay Street is going to look very different on the other side of this. The same kind of tiers might still be there, but all you applicants are going to have much more variety in your choices. Some firms are going to come out stodgy and unfazed; others are going to completely roll over into coffee-shop drop-in bistros; some might be slashed to near-irrelevance or merge (I can think of two clear candidates)... what a time to be alive.
  4. 2 points
    Very fair point, but I think what @Turtles meant was to focus on "softs" like work experience and extracurriculars. I think OP would be well-served highlighting what they can contribute to the classroom and legal profession (as demonstrated by specific examples) and what inspired them to pursue law in the first place. These don't necessarily need to be excuses or exceptional circumstances (as indicated by your post - which I agree with everything you said regarding exceptional circumstances), but they need to highlight unique points/strengths. At my law school's admissions panel event, it was emphasized that the school already assumes candidates want to attend their law school (but this may be school specific?). From my own experience, I had an average/subpar LSAT (this depends on the school ofc) and wrote most my essays with the assumption that schools would not need convincing why I would choose them (granted, I made exceptions for some schools when I got a "vibe" that they promoted certain aspects of their school heavily - U of A was not one of these exceptions - but even then, I did not spend a lot of space on it.). Instead, I focused on conveying a cohesive and compelling story, giving specific examples of how certain experiences demonstrate a unique perspective/strength/interest in law and it all worked out in the end, as evidenced by my acceptance despite a subpar LSAT and average GPA. I have a lot to say about personal statements. OP (and I guess anyone applying), I'd be willing to give more information/advice over PM if you're interested.
  5. 2 points
    Update in case anyone needs this in future. After speaking with LSO, LSBC, and LawPro, here's what I found out. (Obviously not legal advice, double check with all of those places before doing anything yourself in case rules have changed etc.) First off, bad news: the rules have now changed regarding annual fees. If you want to keep your Ontario licence but practice outside the province, you will still have to pay 100% of the Ontario annual fee as well as 100% of the other province's annual fee. Which is... ridiculous, IMHO. But there it is. I needed to change my Ontario status to "practicing" before ordering my Certificate of Standing. BC requires you to be a practicing lawyer in your home jurisdiction if you want to be able to transfer without writing the licencing examinations. It's an easy fix, and is fine to do even if, like me, you're not technically "practicing" until you transfer and your new job starts. PM me and/or call LSO if you have any questions about that. LawPro thought I would need to change my insured status from "exempt" (because not practicing law) and get coverage for 30 days while awaiting the transfer, because LSBC would require it. I confirmed with LSBC that they do NOT require insurance coverage. They get that I'm only "practicing" for purposes of transferring, and do not require me to get coverage if I would otherwise have been exempted. It's complicated, and again, I highly advise speaking to LSBC on this. Rules can change. Anyway. It's a confusing process, but the ball is now rolling and hopefully it will be (relatively) smooth sailing from here on out. Hope this helps folks.
  6. 2 points
    Your LSAT and GPA are not ideal. Use every word in your personal statements to talk about why you are (otherwise) an ideal candidate, not why you would like to attend the school. That would be a wasted opportunity.
  7. 2 points
    Thanks for the update! Obviously disappointing not to get a second interview but at least I don't waste the next week thinking I still had a chance. 😀
  8. 1 point
    Hi everyone, I'm pleased to finally release a project that I've been working on since law school started last fall. It's a web app that builds off of my current one, but makes substantial improvements. It has the following features: Admissions FAQ - The number one thing that applicants come here for is to find answers to their common law school questions. I've compiled all of the information I've gleaned over the course of the last several years related to admissions from a variety of sources, including this website, practitioners, and a number of law school colleagues who've served on admissions committees. Hopefully it will help out new applicants! OLSAS GPA Calculator - Much like the old one, it calculates your OLSAS GPA, but it's cleaner, supports applicants who have grades from more than one university, and supports grades from US schools. It also saves your grades so you can edit them later. Admissions Predictor - I've expanded on the old utility and included some feedback about grades and LSAT that will be personalized to your stats. It even has a neat graph to go with it. And, it gives you your chances given the model I built from the data on this website. Personal Statement Assembler - One of the main problems I had when I applied was the fact that OLSAS is terrible with personal statements. It mangled what I typed if it contained certain special characters. Character counts were way different than the ones you got from Word if you pasted stuff in, so you ended up having to edit in-place. The editor times out after a while, so hitting save sometimes became a gamble. The personal statement assembler presents you with the prompts from each school and gives you a much nicer editor that counts characters like OLSAS and replaces special characters with their ordinary alternatives. It also saves your place regularly, so you don't end up losing everything by accident. It basically gets your personal statement ready to be pasted into OLSAS. You can see some screenshots of these features on the home page. There's even a neat feature where you can take the grades and test scores you entered and create an anonymized link so you can share them with people here (or elsewhere) and get feedback. Your schools, courses, and any identifying info will be redacted, and you can disable the link whenever you want. My goal with this is to make the law school application process as painless as possible. Hopefully this helps a bit. I'm always looking for feedback, so feel free to shoot me a message or reply! PS - I should note that this is a personal project and is not affiliated with Morgan or ls.ca, so if you have any questions about it, I'm the guy to contact! PPS - There's a Facebook page now. Spread the word if you like the site!
  9. 1 point
    With an 80% GPA you are going to have to have a stellar LSAT score and an exceptional Personal Statement. I would say you have a decent chance with a 168+ and a good chance with a 170+. I know there is not a big difference between a 80 and 83 average but, the difference does significantly impacts your chances and so you will have to really aim high for that LSAT.
  10. 1 point
    Those are good questions. Here are my thoughts: 1. Unless the UofA doesn’t recognize the school you got those 4-credit courses from, I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t count all four. 2. Are your 4-credit classes year-long? You’re right, the general rule is that the UofA includes all grades in the semester in which your 60’th credit lands, not the entire year. But I don’t know whether — if there is a year-long course in that Winter semester — they would only count Winter grades or both Fall and Winter. If you’re worried, it would be worth asking Admissions. 3. UofA considers all university-level classes in their calculation, regardless of whether they’re 1st year, 4th year or graduate/postgrad. Don’t worry about those 1xx/2xx classes! Good luck with your application!
  11. 1 point
    I don't think there was anything on my report that suggested I was of particular risk either. I occasionally let a balance linger on my cards, but they were almost always below 10% utilization. No new inquiries. No late payments. No collections. I'll call when I get some time to see if they have any particular reasons listed as to why they reduced it. In the last month on this forum we have also had a person with excellent credit get rejected for a Scotia PSLOC and another person whose cards weren't going to get renewed after the expiry date (however, he later contacted someone else and they said it was a mistake). It looks like Scotia, like with most banks, are tightening credit and reviewing their exposure. We are yet to have anything that has effected a large number of people yet though. It might just come down to dumb luck as to whether their discretion effects you negatively. --- Better name for this thread would probably be "Looks like Scotiabank is beginning to reduce credit card limits" for now.
  12. 1 point
    To expand on that, there are employers hiring outside the formal recruit who have summer law positions available that don't make articling available. Usually they're organizations (think government and companies) and an in-house experience can be quite rewarding.
  13. 1 point
    No problem! That's what I was told by LSO. I mentioned I had heard the fee is 50% when practicing in a different province, and the membership services person I was speaking to said "yeah that used to be the case, but the rules have recently changed". I took a peek at the rules regarding practice status and they've been updated to specifically say you need to be at 100% fee status if you're practicing in a new province. So there goes that money-saving plan, lol. Seems silly to me... LSO is trying to gouge more fees out of its licencees, but all they're doing is guaranteeing more lawyers will full-on surrender their Ontario licences when they transfer instead of keeping them at 50% status. As for how easy it is to get it back if you ever want to move back to Ontario, don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure you just go through the transfer process again, but in reverse. I guess your path will depend on how long you want to stay in the other province: if it's only for a year or so, it would probably cost less to keep up your Ontario licence than it would to go through the transfer process again; if it's longer, you'd actually be saving money by dropping it and then paying the transfer fees later. That said, I definitely recommend talking to the LSO and asking if it is indeed that easy to hop back to Ontario after surrendering your licence. I find often with the LSO logic dictates one answer, and the LSO gives another 😂
  14. 1 point
    Minute difference but one thing to note about those numbers. They mixed up the historic entries for Western and Queen's in the latest version. So under Western for 2018 you'll see 62 and Queen's 52. But if you go to the 2018 version it was actually Queen's that had 60 something and Western was in the 50s http://ultravires.ca/2018/11/toronto-2l-hiring-numbers/. Not sure if they've also mixed up the columns other years in the past but I would look for the actual report of each year instead of relying on the historic numbers column at the bottom.
  15. 1 point
    As in you can't have a non practising status in Ontario and practising in the other (so as to reduce the Ontario fee?) And if you do have to give it up, how easy or difficult is it to get it back? Thanks for sharing!
  16. 1 point
    We will count all of the courses in the Winter 2020 semester to identify the last 20 half-courses, but grades of D+ (or equivalent) and below, and credit/no credit from that term will not be used in the GPA. This means you may have fewer than 20 grades (half-courses) actually used in the GPA calculation, depending on your individual circumstances for that term.
  17. 1 point
    just dont. you’re already applying to their school and paying their application fee, thats enough demonstrated interest right there. concentrate less on why theyre a good fit for you and more on why youre a good fit for them.
  18. 1 point
    I'd also like insight on the firms, but I do know that Agro Zaffiro, Camporese and Sullivan Festeryga are predominantly insurance defence (and personal injury for Camporese). This makes up the majority of their practice.
  19. 1 point
    "If you require immediate assistance, please contact a representative via telephone at 215.968.1001. For inquiries regarding Accommodated Testing, please call 1-855-384-2253. Call Center Hours: 8:30 am to 6:00 pm (ET). Access your www.LSAC.org account for up to the minute information.” I just sent them an email and received this auto-response. I hope this helps you!
  20. 1 point
    I edited to add my credit score. It’s currently 819 per scotiabank’s website. I’ll update here if my credit limits are reduced
  21. 1 point
    Being appointed to a judge position is a long process. You have to practice law for a minimum of 10 years and be in good standing (having a good reputation helps too). You apply for a position, a committee reviews all the applications and creates a short list of candidates to interview. After interviews, reference checks etc the committee makes a shorter list of recommended candidates and the Attorney General choses the candidate who will receive the position from the recommended candidates. I think the role of the Attoney General in the process may have recently changed, or been removed completely. It isn't easy and all the judges I've met had a long and successful legal career before becoming a judge. Many of them were crown 'prosecutors' (/attorneys).
  22. 1 point
  23. 1 point
    My friends at mid-size and small firms are still going into the office a few times a week or are pressured to do so. While I echo other posters’ advice to move out unless your grandparents need you to take care of them, I would first recommend you get the input from your future colleagues. Some offices or groups are face time heavy, others could not care as long as your billables are good. Get as much info as you can and try to make the decision that is right for you. However, you asked for my opinion, so the short answer is that if I were you and I were told that face time is important, I’d move out and keep my grandparents safe.
  24. 1 point
    https://www.mcgill.ca/law/bcl-jd/admissions-guide You'd be doing yourself a huge favour by reading through the admissions guide.
  25. 1 point
    LOL. When I saw your initial post, my first thought was how badly your inbox was about to get flooded.
  26. 1 point
    RIP my inbox. I guess some more historical context might be useful to those of you who don't remember what it was like in 2008 because you were literally children.* When Goodman & Carr folded, and Heenan Blaikie after it (I guess in context those were kind of comparable to... McMillan and Norton Rose today? Ish?), a lot of their talent was poached by other law firms and basically all of their articling students were taken on by other Bay Street firms. Kind of an unspoken obligation. Again, far from saying that anything like that is going to happen -- it almost certainly won't, probably not even close -- but because we have some catastrophic thinkers out there, just remember that your absolute, meteor-strike worst-case scenario might be that if the firm folds you'll end up at Torys. Ugh. (Kidding, I'm kidding. Don't @ me.) * I don't know if I shared this here, but we were at a firm event just before Covid and there was a trivia question about '90s music. They played Bittersweet Symphony and the question was, "which band played that song?" We answered, The Verve. The new associates were like, "we didn't know that". And the olds were like, "no worries, you were probably thinking The Verve Pipe, but that's a different band. In any event, one-hit wonder, can't blame you if you don't remember." And they were like, "No, we've never heard that song."
  27. 1 point
    Even though well-placed, they're still just rumours; I don't want to be out here getting on the wrong side of some good old-fashioned trade libel. Since a lot of you weren't here 12 years ago, just a quick reminder that just because a firm is having a hard time doesn't mean the students are in trouble. In the last couple of recessions, we saw some emergency mergers that actually caused students to be "upgraded" into better firms... international buyouts that catapulted some "mid-tier" and regional firms into international juggernaut status... we saw some lower-billing senior associates and overpaid senior partners move from firm to firm... and generally when financial difficulties hit law firms the result was lower hiring at the OCI stage and not necessarily lower hireback. For many firms, mine included, cutting on hireback or new hires is more of a last resort. If you've just got a job at a Bay Street law firm, you should be the opposite of panicking, even if your firm happens to be one of (what are hopefully a very few) that are going to have to make some changes. As I say, I'm worried about my friends on the brink of partnership; you jerks are probably going to be fine.
  28. 1 point
    That was a very frustrating time on the internet.
  29. 1 point
    Everyone had awful hot takes about that case. See e.g.: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/court-throws-out-law-barring-self-induced-intoxication-as-defence-to-violence https://www.google.com/amp/s/beta.ctvnews.ca/local/toronto/2020/6/5/1_4971355.html
  30. 1 point
    IIRC, CP24 was also responsible for reporting the ONCA case of Sullivan & Chan as effectively allowing intoxication as a defence to sexual assault, when in fact the cases were not even about sexual assault. A lot of stupid petitions went around calling on the Ontario AG to "overturn" ONCA's ruling. It looks like a lot of really intelligent people are working at CP24.
  31. 1 point
    Actually both you and Bloc are wrong in your cost calculations. Neither one of you have calculated the income foregone while attending law school. Also, what you are both doing is calculating the true cost of law school, not the opportunity cost. True cost = actual cost + opportunity cost. Both you and Bloc have added some actual costs (ie tuition) and called it an opportunity cost. The real opportunity cost of tuition is not what you pay for tuition, but rather what else you could have done with that money. I apologize if this all seems overly pedantic, but my undergrad was in economics.
  32. 1 point
    We meet again, lol. At risk of derailing the thread a bit, thanks. To add something constructive for OP: since you're regularly scoring 170+ on PTs, for blatantly apparent reasons I have limited advice to give you on studying. But since the one edge I do have is that I've taken the LSAT already, and October is coming up quickly, I will advise you to not stress out. This sounds like an obvious statement. But I was woken up by horrible nausea at 5:30 AM the day of, and would recommend avoiding having this happen to you. I got myself to relax once I let myself understand that I can just take the damn thing again if I need to and life carries on no matter what. I didn't score my best, but well enough that I'm giving this round a try. As other posters have said, even if you also wound up not at the top of your game, you might still be competitive. Keep working hard on studying, but enjoy the rest of your summer and the start of your final year where you can.
  33. 1 point
    LSAC has just announced that beginning with the October 2020 LSAT they are reinstating the retake limits first established in September 2019, but that have been suspended for all tests from May through August of this year. For those unaware, here are the restrictions being resurrected for multiple attempts: • You can sit for the LSAT three times in a single testing year (LSAC's year goes from June 1 to May 31). This applies to cancellations as well as to kept scores. After three attempts you have to wait until the following June before you are permitted to test again. • You are allowed five attempts within any five year period (the period in which LSAC reports scores to law schools). After your fifth LSAT you must wait until five years have passed since your first test before being allowed to retake. • You can take the LSAT seven times in total. After that no further attempts are allowed. These limits apply regardless of whether future tests are Flex or in-person, but will not be enacted retroactively: the May, June, July, and August 2020 LSATs do NOT count toward these limits, but tests from September 2019 through February 2020, and tests after August 2020 all will. So plan accordingly as you map out your testing timeline—taking the LSAT solely for experience now comes with additional consequences. In other LSAT World news, we will release a PodCast episode shortly that breaks down the scoring info above and the ongoing July 2020 missing-score debacle. Here's the link if you want to give it a listen, Episode 62 when it posts in an hour: https://www.powerscore.com/lsat/podcast/
  34. 1 point
    In BC we call them K files. They can be the most complex and frustrating cases because so often the parties continue to complicate the file by continuing to engage with each other - sometimes by mutual agreement, sometimes one side only, sometimes they have to because kids, etc. And then they call you, Crown or defence, and expect to direct your response to an ever-evolving situation. And what they want you to do changes the next day. Often it is clear cut, but more often it isn’t. The only thing defence can do is look at the file they have and try to keep their client from stupid breaches. Crown have a tougher time because the public interest in prosecuting the file along with the chances of conviction is a moving target, especially if the complainant is calling every week to revise their version of events or report the latest text message breach or ask Crown to remove the no-contact condition. Give any of us a nice clean bank robbery any day. K files are a whole other level of criminal law.
  35. 1 point
    I am going to be blunt here. Law schools are not charities. You say your dream is to be a lawyer, yet that is not evidenced by anything I have seen here. You have a dismal GPA and subpar LSAT score. Contrary to all the advice you have received here, you do not want to a) attempt to raise your LSAT score, b) attempt to raise your GPA, or c) apply later on once you've gained some experience. You say you do not want to waste your 20s way, but what else do you have going for you; what are your alternative plans? Why are you this quick to give up on your "dream?" Maybe law school isn't for you. You can look into policing but there is also law clerk, paralegal, and legal assistant programs. Moving forward, my only advice is to put in some more effort to reach your goals, whatever they may be. Failing to reach your goals, then putting the blame on all these external factors is not the way to go about impressing people (including law school admissions). How have you overcome these struggles and adversity to prove yourself? Why do you deserve a seat in a law school? Your "only" con for Windsor is not just your GPA. What are your extracurriculars and community involvement like? Do you have any special accomplishments; artistic and athletic accomplishments; additional languages you speak, etc.? Do you have a public interest or social justice background? Essentially, if your stats are on the low-end, what have you done to prove to them that you deserve a seat in their law school? If you're saying you should be looked at as a charity case because you suffered from illnesses, took care of an ailing parent, lived in poverty, and worked full-time during your summers offer (and part-time during the school year), this is really not going to go down well with anybody.
  36. 1 point
    How many of those years have occurred since early March? P.S. If BlockedQuebecois is reading: no need to educate me on how time works, again. I'm just joking.
  37. 1 point
    If any online school suggests otherwise then get written confirmation from the NCA before you attend. A lot of these places might sell you lines like “this is the future” but I don’t recommend actually betting your own future on their promises.
  38. 1 point
    Most, if not all, schools make more offers than there are spots available. They have experience with the yield number vis a vis offers. It isn't until they get down close to that yield number that they will then go to the waitlist. Those on the waitlist are applicants that they will accept if initial offers are not accepted. It does make sense. As for ranking the waitlists, many schools do not divulge ranking numbers but that doesn't mean that there isn't a ranking system in place for the school.
  39. 1 point
  40. 1 point
    To add onto Diplock's point. My friend who's been working his keester off trying to get into a Canadian med school as an Ontario resident (it's a thing; way tougher if you're an ontario resident vs another province) and he's been a bubble candidate for years is now considering the US. He's been a bit too non chalant about the massive debt he'd take on and the quality of school he'd be open to. For example, one school had a 35 percent match rate in the U.S. To which I said you're gambling, and the number one rule of gambling is that the house wins. Except this time, you're betting 300 grand for worse odds than a black jack table. It was tough love. But it made him take a step back. And I don't think another approach would have worked. There's a time and place for kindness and tough love.
  41. 1 point
    As a mean guy, I approve of this topic and I hope the mods read it and stop deleting my posts!
  42. 1 point
    I did it. Got Called in Ontario on a Tuesday, moved to Vancouver the same Friday. As @Chuckles64 noted, it was an expensive administrative pain in the ass, but it's so, so nice to be on the West Coast. If you're thinking about surrendering your Ontario license, get on that process as soon as you're admitted in BC. Surrendering takes forever. Granted, some Vancouver firms like having lawyers who can practice in multiple jurisdictions and might pay your fees in both BC and ON, but I wouldn't bank on it. Protip - once you're insured in BC, contact LawPro asap and tell them you're covered in another jurisdiction so you don't have to pay ON and BC insurance fees. I paid for 5 unnecessary months of overlap because I thought it was tied to my ON surrender process, not my BC admission. Ugh. Also, the Call ceremony is going to feel weird. It's SO CHILL. Like, uncomfortably chill. Like, people who are in the building will just swing by and watch for a hot second and then get back to whatever it is they were at the courthouse for. Tres bizarre. I also found it disconcerting when people were congratulating me on my Call in BC - I literally did nothing but pay and show up, all the hard work was done ages ago. And they congratulate you on becoming a lawyer and you're like "thaaaaanks but I've been a lawyer for X months / years somewhere else?" May have just been me but it felt odd and I sort of wish they had a transfer-only Call ceremony. Aaaanyway, come on down, everything is green and the weather is great! Well... when the rain stops.
  43. 1 point
    I made this exact transition. Good news and bad news: Good news: you may have misread the transfer procedure. My experience is that you only need to write the BC exam if you are transferring to BC from a non-reciprocating jurisdiction. Ontario is a reciprocating jurisdiction. Check here: https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/becoming-a-lawyer-in-bc/transfers/transfer-to-bc-from-another-canadian-jurisdiction/ Bad news: you're going to have to pay something like $2,500 in administrative fees to LSBC to transfer over. Good news: other than the fee its relatively painless Bad news: unless you surrender your Ontario license, if practicing law in BC you will still need to pay 50% of your LSO fees (if you can't find a job and have no income, don't worry, LSO will find it in their heart to only charge you 25% for the right to not practice using your Ontario license) Good news: when Ontario friends complain about sub -20 temperatures you can respond that you feel their pain and had to suffer the indignity of putting on a light sweater that morning. Bad news: trying to surrender your Ontario license may take months (or over a year), during which said fees still accrue. Good/Bad news: you get to / have to sit through another call to the Bar ceremony. Shoot me a PM if you have any questions about my experiences in transferring over.
  44. 1 point
    I'm a solo practitioner who is working to expand, and as part of that I just finished going about hiring an articling student. What follows is my advice to students on what to and not to do in the course of securing an articling spot. Please note that this does not necessarily work with every other employer, even if they are small firms. These are merely my own observations and views based on my recent experience in hiring an articling student, mixed in with my experience of hiring summer students in the past. I will break this down into the following sections: Cover Letter, Resume, Application in General, Interview, Application Procedure, and Concluding Thoughts. Cover Letter The reason I put the cover letter first is because it is the single most important thing I look at. Surprised? Frankly, I was too. When I was a student I didn't think the cover letter mattered all that much. What could you possibly want to know about me that isn't in my resume? That's where my education and experience are, so why do you want me to state it again in the cover letter? Well, it turns out, employers don't want that. We've just gotten used to it because, frankly, most applications suck. 1. I'm going to lay a hard truth on you now. You aren't special. I know, Disney said otherwise, but you have no idea how not-special people are until you've got a bunch of CV's lined up and everyone is basically the same. Most of the classes are the same, most of the grades are pretty close (that B curve...), most of you have the same experiences as each other (basically pick two or three of a legal clinic, pro bono, writing for or editing a law journal, entry level summer position at a firm where you basically filed documents when you weren't just sitting around with nothing to do, and/or some kind of law school club). Do you know what I use the cover letter for? I use it to determine if you can string coherent sentences together. How's your spelling and grammar. Did you manage to spell my name/the name of my firm correctly? No joke, that's how low the bar is. What I've found is that a lot of people are very, VERY careless with their cover letters. You know what it says to me if you're careless with your job application? It tells me that you have poor attention to detail and are going to let a lot of things slip through the cracks. 2. Your cover letter should make it seem like you bothered to look at my firm's website. It's not rare that I get a cover letter that talks about wanting to do stuff that my firm clearly doesn't do. 3. I get it. You're busy. I remember thinking "I don't have time to make an individualized cover letter for every single firm." That's fine. I did the same thing. But you can't make it be obvious that you didn't care. If you want to design paragraphs that you can just reuse again and again and just have to change out the firm name, that's fine, but at least put some effort into that. 4. So if the basic use of a cover letter, for my purposes, is to see that a person can manage to show basic attention to detail, good spelling, grammar, and writing habits, what does a great cover letter look like? The best cover letter I have ever seen was submitted this summer by a Queen's student. He had three solid paragraphs on what he could do for me and my firm, and a final short paragraph about why he was interested in working for me. The paragraphs were concise and got straight to the point. He had clearly either looked at my website or else had devised a cover letter that worked for small firms and blended things very well. He talked about what he'd accomplish and that translates into "this kid will make my life better," and "this guy will help my business grow/help me make money." I was ready to hire him over the phone just based on that. Sadly, when I called him to book the interview the very next day, he'd received a job offer that morning and taken it. Just based on how amazing his cover letter was, I wanted to hire him. I had my assistant look into the budget to see if we could increase what we were going to pay because I didn't want him to slip away. THAT is what a good cover letter can do. You have to think about it from the employer's perspective. I'm not trying to hire someone so I can give someone a job. I have a need that I am trying to meet. What is my need? How do you help fulfill that need? That's what you need to ask yourself. It has little to nothing to do with what you're interested in or mentor-ship (usually. That said, I personally get a kick out of teaching and mentoring so I do look for an eager student as well). 5. By the way, if you have a problem with your academic history, such as your grades or a gap in time, confront that in your cover letter. Don't go on about it at great length, but at least mention it and be upfront. One of the students I interviewed had such a deficiency in his academics that I almost tossed his application into the pile of applications to interview only if I didn't find a winner in my top 10 list (I broke down the applications into an initial top 10, followed by subsequent groups of 10). But when I looked over his cover letter, I was impressed that he addressed the issue. He did it succinctly and directly. I respected that and put him straight into the top 10 to interview (I didn't select him in the end, but I think he was in my top 3). 6. Oh, and don't include weird stuff. If your cover letter starts to read like a dating profile then I'm going to slowly get weirded out. 7. As an additional note, I'm just going to point out that women are really kicking men's asses in this area. So to the men reading, if you want to do better then maybe talk to women you know. I find women put in the effort to properly edit their cover letters, and pay close attention to detail. When it isn't done, then it really shows, and guys... your stuff really shows. Also, men seem to be prone to doing weird stuff like giving me strange information and even including head shots. Why would you do this? I'm told it's common in Europe, but this isn't Europe. Do the normal things everyone else is doing! Resume 1. Your resume's all look fairly standard, and that's not a bad thing. When resumes stood out for me because of their style instead of their content, it was NEVER for a good reason. You want to go the extra mile on your resume style? Make sure it matches the style of your cover letter and reference list (if you make one. I did when I was applying around, since it give a quick reference guide, but you don't have to, in my opinion). If you use a letter head that indicates your contact info and name, and especially if it has a line below it to separate it from the page, then it should align with the one on your cover letter. It makes it look crisp, well thought out, and well put together instead of being a hodgepodge of documents. 2. As for how you order the content, I recommend that you start with your education (which can include a section on awards, or you can weave it in to the education points), then go to work experience, then go to volunteer, and then leave associations/clubs for last (if you do it at all. Frankly, you should only be listing that stuff if you did something on the exec).You can have a publication section if it's applicable, but I'd probably put that after work experience. Frankly, your education and work experience should appear on the first page. It's okay if your work experience bleeds onto the second page, but that's why you always do these things with the most recent stuff first. 3. If you're going to include an "interests" section, please keep it really, REALLY short. It can be one line at the very bottom. 4. If you went to school abroad, please don't put your work experience first and then bury your education on the second page. Every single time I saw this it was done by an Ontario student who went to school abroad at one of the usual suspects (Bond, City of London, Leicester, Cooley, etc.). It's not clever. It just makes me assume you're ashamed of where you went. Pretty well anyone looking at your application will assume you went to one of those schools because you couldn't get into school in Ontario or even Canada at large. Maybe your undergrad grades were crap (usually the case from what I saw), or maybe your LSAT score wasn't good enough (which I assumed was the case when the undergraduate grades seemed fine). But then there's always the chance that you actually wanted to go to one of those schools (for some weird reason), or that you were actually a fine student with a fine LSAT score and just didn't get into a Canadian school. It happens. I'm sure there are a number of people who go to these schools who were the final ones to not make the list into a law school here who were as good or even better than the bottom admits who may have been admitted for other random reasons (like a particularly good entry essay/"about me" section/personal statement). Be upfront. Trying to hide this stuff makes me think that 1. you're ashamed, and 2. you think you can pull that one past me (or anyone. We will obviously check where you went, if only out of curiosity). Hiding it does nothing. It doesn't emphasize your experience to me. Have both education and work experience on the first page and you're fine. I will sift through your resume to find what I want in the order I want to find it (what school did you go to, what experience do you have, did you keep busy with extra-curriculars instead of work experience, is your resume a hot mess). It doesn't increase your odds of me noticing your work experience and it just makes you stand out as different from the rest of the applicants (and not in a way that's good). Law isn't generally about reinventing the wheel. We have particular formats that we MUST follow. I want to see that you can follow a format. What you do inside of that format is where you can impress me. Great experience, great writing, etc. but if you can't handle formatting/instructions then we have a problem and I don't care what experience you have. Whether I like it or not I have to submit stuff in particular formats as mandated by the courts and/or the government. That's life. Application in General 1. Your formatting should match throughout. It just looks better and doesn't look half-hazard as a result of mismatch. 2. On a couple of occasions (it's rare that I do it) I have seen applications where I thought the applicant might be interesting and worth at least an interview, but their application was kind of crap. On one occasion I asked the individual to redo their application package and resubmit it. I even gave notes as to what I thought the problems were (normally they'd just go into the rejection pile, but there was something about this person that made me interested enough to want to give them a second chance). What was sent back to me was largely the same damn thing. They made a few changes, but they didn't alter one of my main notes to them, and then justified leaving it as was in the email back to me. Basically, I thought they put too much about their interests all over the application. Again, to be frank, I don't care about your interests. That you really like to bake is not going to make me hire you (though when you mention particular things that you cook my assistant wonders if you're going to bring samples to the interview since you talk it up so much). I informed this applicant that it was a bit strange that it appeared so prominently in their cover letter, and then again in the resume interests. While it was fine to have it in their resume interests, the cover letter wasn't really the place for it and there was more I wanted to know. They emailed back that they decided to leave it all in because they'd gotten good feedback and follow up questions about it from others who had interviewed them. In my head, all I could think was "I'm sure you got follow up questions, and feedback, but I don't think the feedback was as good as you think it was." Basically, it's something that makes you stand out in a weird way. Not that baking is a weird hobby, but just that it's a weird choice to feature it so prominently when applying for a position that has nothing to do with baking. Also, I had just given them negative feedback about it but they chose to leave it in. Even if you want to leave it in for other interviews, at least take it out for the person who is giving you a second shot. Not doing so makes you look stubborn and incapable of following instructions, not to mention bad with constructive criticism and feedback. 3. Speaking of following instructions... FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. Check the website of the law firm. Read the instructions regarding the application carefully. Before I go through the applications my assistant divides them up. The easiest separation she does (beyond just checking for spelling and grammar in the cover letter. And I don't mean with a dictionary, I mean just on reading through it for command of the English language) is those who were able to follow instructions and provide a full application package and those who couldn't/didn't. If you're asked for a cover letter, resume, transcripts, and letters of reference (if any) then provide those. And I recommend doing it IN THAT ORDER (that being the order listed). I ask for them in that order because 1. that's usually how it's done, 2. that order makes a lot of sense if you think about it, and 3. that's the order in which I care about what you're submitting. Same thing with the writing sample (arguably I rank that one above the letters of reference). 4. By the way, with your letters of reference, I'm rarely reading them in full. Usually I skip to the bottom to see how they recommend you in the last line or two. Usually that indicates to me how strongly they felt about recommending you, and whether or not they did it because they felt obligated to or because they were legitimately happy to recommend you. Not that your letters of reference will make or break you (at least with me. I think I'd use them as a tie breaker usually), but I want you to know what I'm looking for, and how many shortcuts there are for your interviewers to read between the lines. I think I've only ever called on reference, and it was for the articling student I just hired. There was a lot in there that was great, but there were one or two things that weren't where we'd want it. It came down to him and one other applicant who didn't have any flags but also didn't have as many strong positives in their favour (in particular it was . I had my assistant call the reference and confirm what was in the letter and the nature of the experience that was listed in the resume. If it checked out and they were as excited about the applicant as they seemed in the letter then he'd get the job. If not, then I'd give it to the safer bet with less experience. Everything checked out, and the reference couldn't say enough good things about the applicant. So that's who we went with. 5. Oh, last point, but this related to the weird stuff in cover letters and resumes, because I don't care about your interests you shouldn't include weird stuff that makes me dwell on it. Usually it's guys who are guilty of this because they like to let me know that they enjoy deadlifting and the like. Just say "working out" or "going to the gym." It's an application, not a dating profile. Interview 1. Don't just be on time, be early. I think 15 minutes is good. Half an hour is ridiculous and a bit weird. Just a few minutes is the same thing as being dead on time. Reasons to be early: a). It makes you seem interested and eager. b). It makes you seem punctual, good at planning, responsible, and generally on the ball. c). I may be able to see you earlier than we planned/booked because of any number of reasons, and it puts me in a better mood to remain productive and therefore have the option to see you a bit earlier. I've actually done this when applicants showed up early and the interview before them (or meeting, or phone call, or whatever) is cancelled. d). If you're going to be late, or you think you'll be late, CALL US! Give us a heads up. Making your excuses once you arrive makes me think you were late and misjudged things and now you're lying to me with a fake excuse. Calling while you're on your way to say "I'm so sorry, but there's been an accident on the road and we're all just stuck and not moving" or "my cab got lost," or whatever, makes me believe you, see you as considerate with regards to the time of others, level headed, thinking clearly under pressure, and just generally on top of things. That said, it's always best to not be late, because it means you adequately evaluated how much time you'd need to accomplish the task of arriving. 2. During the interview, do not interrupt. Speak clearly. If you're offered water and you know you tend to get a bit dry mouth during these situations, ACCEPT THE WATER! Don't feel like you need to fill all moments of silence with noise. I'm not looking for noise, I'm looking for good answers. You don't have to "uuummm" and "aauuuuhhh" before you speak. Take a moment. Take a breath. Take a sip of water. Think about what you're going to say. People who seem calm, confident, collected, and like they're thinking things through go a LONG way in my books. 3. The first question you're asked is either going to be an ice breaker or, in the case of other firms, a standard "why do you want to work here" or something like that. For my ice breaker questions I will ask you something that stood out for me from your resume or transcripts. Did you list that you like to do spelunking? I'm going to ask you about cave diving (please don't make any sexual innuendos. Because we want everything to be above board we won't be making such jokes, we won't be responding, and that means your comment will just hang in the air awkwardly). Did you take weird sounding courses like "thinking about thought?" I will ask you what you learned in that. I generally don't care about the answer. I'm looking to make you feel more comfortable by giving you a genuine softball as the first pitch. I know these things are stressful (and some of you show up shaking like leaf), and my philosophy is that you will eventually become comfortable working here even if you're hella nervous and anxious most of the time, and that you will likely do better work when relaxed, and that the interview process is stressful, so if I can help you relax a bit then I'll get to know more about the real you and whether or not I want to work with you. 4. That said, no matter how comfortable we get during the interview, remember that it's still an interview. Sit up, don't lean back and to the side in the chair. Don't slouch. Don't get overly casual in your language. For the love of god, don't start talking to me about family issues or mental health problems, because I promise you I'm a lawyer and not your therapist! There is a time and a place for that sort of discussion and it's NOT in the middle of your interview. 5. Oh, and you may be interested in work life balance, but please don't use the term "work life balance." You want to ask me about the hours? Fine. Do so. But when you tell me that you're concerned about work life balance then it really does conjure up this notion of fragility (rightly or wrongly). I know the big downtown firms talk about it on their websites and in seminars, but I promise you that they don't actually care. They're trying to attract top level candidates but they will chew you up and spit you out (I've known a few friends who went and then left the practice of law all together afterwards because of the stress). If you're concerned about work life balance then ask the questions around it, don't just ask me about work life balance. I'm usually in the office 7 days a week and 12 to 16 hour days are not uncommon for me at all. I don't expect you to do that (obviously. The burdens of a small business owner are not something I would shovel onto a student), but I don't want to hear about your need to ensure that you've got enough time to Netflix and chill. The reason I work those long days and hours now is because I'm still young enough to do so and I assume it will pay off for me with an easier time later. If you tell me that your priority is balance now then I assume you're not someone who thinks about short term sacrifice for long term gain. How does that help you? 6. When you come to the interview, bring additional copies of your application package (make sure you're using the right one for the right firm). I've never needed them, but you should have them in case. If I've lost your application then I probably won't waste time to go find it and will continue on without it. It sucks, but that means a worse interview for you. I prepare for the interviews I hold, but not everyone does, so come prepared. 7. Make sure what you're wearing looks good/appropriate. This is really more directed at the men, so I'm going to talk about this in terms of suits (I don't think there's ever been a problem with what women have worn to interviews at my office). Please make sure your suit fits. Some of you show up in suits that you look like you're swimming in, and they're almost always plain black (I assume it's for funerals). I assume it's your dad's suit and you're borrowing it. Do yourself a favour and go to Moores when there's a special on (like a two for one sale). You need a blue one (dark blue. It's not prom) and either charcoal or grey. Do NOT go plain black (that's for proms, weddings, and funerals). Get some shirts that fit properly. Look at tie combinations. Don't just go with a plain one, but don't go crazy with the patterning. It should look nice but not be something I keep staring at because I can't figure out what's going on with the pattern. With blue suits you should wear brown or burgundy shoes with a matching belt (for bonus points, if your watch has a leather strap, match the watch strap/watch). If you're wearing charcoal/black, then only black shoes and belt will do. If you're wearing grey, you can go with just about any set of shoes and matching belt, though I find burgundy doesn't look as good with grey, and I prefer black with it (in all cases, your socks should match your suit pants. Not exactly, obviously, but blue with blue, grey with grey, black with black). The standard is a white shirt, but you can go with colour just don't go overboard. Subtlety is good. If you're going to do colour, then I recommend a tie that has colours of the shirt and the suit in it (or at least of the shirt). If you talk to someone at Moores they can help you out. French cuffs are a bit much, so I don't care how much you like your cuff links you should leave it at home. Don't wear lapel pins (unless it's remembrance day, then the poppy is fine), and pocket squares are unnecessary (but if it's part of your style, then sure. Just keep in mind we can often tell when you're not comfortable with what you're wearing and that it's just not your style). Tie clips are fine (I wear them), but please wear them properly. If you wear them right at the top then I assume you figured you should "bling" up and add flair, but you have no idea what it's actually for and so you just look ridiculous. Wear the tie clip about 1/3rd to half way down. I usually put mine towards the bottom of where the skinny part of the tie is behind the main tie. Also, make sure the tie clip matches with what your wearing. I take into account the finish on my watch and the buckle on my belt, as well as the colour of the tie. You want to look put together. Oh, but don't bother with a three piece suit. You will just look uncomfortable. Those things are better when you're going to be taking your jacket off, and you shouldn't take it off during the interview. Also, this isn't 'Suits', it's real life. Speaking of Suits, don't buy high peak lapel suits. That's a Harvey Spektor thing, but no one actually does that unless it's on a Tuxedo or you're running a game show or hosting an auction (something like that). Go regular notched lapel. And while having your pants tapered can look nice, I recommend doing it as a slight taper from the knee down. Doing it higher up makes them look like you're trying to recreate skinny jeans. If you can't afford a lot of tailoring then that's fine, but at least get what you buy off the rack fitted to you. There's plenty of places you can go to get that done cheap (often most small shops that do dry cleaning services will do it). Best bet is to go shopping with a friend who knows something about this stuff and go to a place like Moores and they'll help you out. 8. You will see me taking notes. Don't get flustered about me writing stuff down. I may not be writing down anything related to what you're talking about in the moment. It may not even be about you if I've just had a thought about something else. Sometimes I'm writing down exactly what you said because I like the way it sounds and I may want to quote it later. Sometimes I'm taking notes like "good posture," or "answered directly," or other things like that. Don't get nervous, just keep talking to me. Even if I'm not making eye contact while doing it, you should still be looking towards me (or my assistant, who sits in on interviews) ready to make eye contact. 9. If you've prepared an "elevator answer," try not to stick to the script too hard. In fact, scripts are lame. I want to see how you do as just you. On the subject of yourself, you shouldn't need much preparation. 10. Have questions prepared to ask me about the firm, or your duties, or anything like that. It's okay if I end up answering the question before you get to ask it when I give you a spiel about us. You can say so, I won't hold it against you. But you should seem like you at least thought about it. 11. While my assistant sits in on the interviews, don't read too much into it if she has to leave in the middle. Assistants handle all the things that keep the firm running so that lawyers just have to sit down and do the work they can bill for and then pay the assistants. While big firms might do this, I don't like to charge for check-up phone calls or drafting confirmation letters, or doing anything that isn't legal work. My opinion is everything else required to do the legal work should be built into the price. In order to do that, assistants have to carry a lot of the burden and sometimes that means she doesn't have a solid half an hour to an hour to sit there. Usually I'll warn interviewees as we get started, but just in case, don't read too much into it (unless it's right after you said something that caused my facial expression to change and you weren't sure if you should have said it but decided to anyway. Then it might be an indication of what you just said... so, you know, don't say inappropriate stuff!) 12. Likewise, don't get too nervous if the interview gets a bit shorter than you expected. The articling student we hired was one of our shorter interviews. The interview length tends to be determined by a few things, including when I feel like I've got the information I need, how quickly you answer questions, how quickly I remember the questions and think of follow ups (which sometimes can take me a couple tries to frame and phrase properly. I'm only human), and whether or not I start droning on in answer to a question of yours. Don't feel bad about it. It often doesn't mean too much (unless I just feel like I'm getting nowhere with you and your answers aren't addressing the questions). Sometimes the length of the interview will be affected by things that have NOTHING to do with you. As the day wears on, I get more efficient at asking questions and drawing out answers, so that cuts down on the time too. 13. Your handshake should not be weak. Don't squeeze off my hand, but I shouldn't be shaking a wet noodle. Have direction behind it. Don't just put your hand in my hand. 14. If you've got an interview, odds are that you're going to look, on paper, pretty similar to the others, and that likely means you have similar ideas about work and the like. Many of you interview quite similar (so my notes often say things like "confident" or "well spoken). Interviews are more of an elimination round than anything. You don't win much, though you CAN if you blow us away (we like confidence, good command of language, direct in speech, and good at talking about what you can do and what you've overcome). Application Procedure 1. When you receive notice about the interview, it's a good idea to follow up and confirm the date and time. It makes you look organized. Feel free to ask if you should bring anything additional or if we want additional information. People who look eager are great! 2. If you email or call in, we do make note of that. One application that made it into our top picks was only selected because the individual called back to confirm everything and was well spoken on the phone. I didn't even speak to him. My assistant liked how confident he sounded. 3. Be nice and respectful to everyone at the firm, not just the lawyer interviewing you. The assistant you might not think much of? She's more helpful to me than any 10 of you. Good assistants keep a firm running. Great assistants basically run the firm and just give the lawyers law stuff to do. I have a great assistant. I can't do without her, meanwhile I don't even know your name. If you're rude to her, take a guess at how that will play for you. Also, who do you think controls the order in which I look at these applications? Whose opinion do you think I will listen to about them? If you can't get along with my assistant then you can't work here, because I need her and she's amazing at her job. And if she's not happy, that's going to effect me and my practice. When you're rude to my assistant, she will tell me. She will mark it down on your application and make sure I know about it, because she knows I will back her up (if only because she backs me up). So do yourself a favour and don't be an ass. 4. After the interview, do a thank you email. I always thought these were stupid, but once you're on the other side you like to know that it's appreciated that your time was taken up. Actually, I don't even care about that so much, but it's more that it starts to stick out when someone DOESN'T do it vs. doing it. Also, my assistant likes it and, well... see above. 5. If you don't get the job, it's okay to follow up and ask what you could have done better. Generally, people don't mind that. But don't be surprised when sometimes it's ineffable. Often there isn't one mistake I can attribute it to. Sometimes it's just that another person had more experience in an area I need someone with experience. Sometimes it's demeanor/attitude, and sometimes it's confidence, and sometimes it's that you made an inappropriate comment or seemed to not know about the firm at all. But often it's that you were just edged out based on something else (not always, though. At bigger firms it's different. But here, I don't have the time to interview a hundred people, so it's a pretty hard selection process to get to the interview stage). 6. When communicating with the firm, I should not suddenly be receiving lots of emails from you. One to confirm the interview and follow up with questions if any, and a thank you afterwards. We're not pen pals (also, you'll probably be dealing with my assistant). 7. DO NOT try to add me on LinkedIn or other social media at any point during the course of the application process. It's seriously weird to me. I don't know if that's a younger person thing (not that I'm that old, I'm only at the old end of millennials so there shouldn't be THAT much difference in our thinking) but it's strange. We're not buddies. If you get the job, I guess you can add me on LinkedIn (not that I use it), but generally you should wait until you've started the job. Concluding Thoughts There is a standard way of doing the interview process that you shouldn't deviate from. Most of the decision process is made by eliminating people who make mistakes (incomplete package, bad formatting, poor grammar and spelling/command of the English language, poor communication skills in the interview, not following standard procedures). If your application is just plain weak, then you've got problems. Poor grades, going abroad to a last-chance-law-school, and no work experience will simply not bode well for you. I guess you can do the LPP, but you'll still have to pass the NCA's and Bar exams. After that you need to either start your own firm or adjust your expectations severely in terms of what your work will look like. A lot of places you want to work won't hire you, and the places that will hire you will have lousy pay structures. You've got to think about that stuff carefully when doing this. If you haven't gone to law school yet but are considering it and you can foresee these problems. then maybe think hard before committing to this career path (it could be an expensive mistake). Also, if you get hired, that isn't the end of things. I have been deeply impressed by my recent hire who asked if there was legislation or acts he should be reading before starting so that he's up to date on areas of particular concern to me, and offered to assist with some things. That's one hell of a way to impress, which is especially important in firms where you want to be hired back or get a really strong letter of reference. Frankly, I think all of this can be summed up by effort. Some people are prepared to put in the effort, and other people aren't. If you're ready to make the effort to do things properly, you'll do fine. If you aren't, then you won't. Good luck out there.
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