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Rashabon

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Rashabon last won the day on May 15

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  1. I articled at a big shop. My salary was $1450/week. I know enough to know I'm not in a good position to talk about an articling position at what is clearly a small/solo practice. Not enough people around here remember to focus on their strengths instead of expecting their knowledge is universally applicable. The value of a student, in my world and in my personal practice, is like an assistant that does more substantive work, or a law clerk that I expect to learn the law a bit when doing a task and is willing to do the most basic things to free up more senior people for more senior tasks, and can cheaply assist on either good work, or work that shouldn't be done by someone billing my rate (or slightly lower). I can't ballpark the value they bring because literally everything a student can do can be done better, quicker and mostly cheaper by a junior associate. I thought I was paid fairly as an articling student, though it should probably go up given inflation and the passage of time since the last raise (unless it has gone up). But frankly as a student, I was the one getting value, because I was receiving necessary training towards becoming a lawyer, and was ultimately hired back at my firm as an associate with a good salary. A student is as much a cost and a burden as a "value". So it's not a good idea to think about "value" because a small shop can simply argue that a student is a net negative - come work for free if you want to get licensed. A student should figure out what is fair and market practice for their position and try and get that. I don't think students should work for free or accept shit salaries, but there are limits to what students earn generally, and the market they are working in will largely dictate that. An articling student in crim working for a sole practitioner or a two-three person shop in Saskatchewan shouldn't expect to earn the same amount as a student working on Bay. Anyway as I said, I defer to people that work in OP's world as to what is fair for an articling student. Even associates in that world don't necessarily make an annualized $75K, so my personal experience is wholly alien to assisting in salary negotiation. But I did know that you were wrong and off on multiple points, and shouldn't get in the habit of assuming that your history as a co-op student means it is directly applicable to being a law student/articling student. It's not. My value was also in making sure readers don't go off half-cocked assuming things about employment law that aren't true because someone states it so on the forum - there are plenty of ignorant readers here that might actually think its the case, and that's why people should avoid legal advice generally on the forum. It doesn't mean you need a lengthy disclaimer in bold every post, but does require some common sense about how you phrase and discuss things.
  2. You're not a lawyer so I'll forgive you for using words like "illegal" without knowing that this isn't illegal, but don't get in the habit of speaking about legal realities of things you do not know about. It's bad form for a student/prospective student, it is worse for a lawyer. Suffice to say, unpaid articling or less than minimum wage is not "illegal" for articling students. Moving on, you again are not lawyer, so to say that what an articling student should be making is "1/3 of the work you can bill" is ludicrous. That may be a benchmark an associate should consider, but that's not an articling student consideration. Articling students are there to learn, they aren't meant to be profit centres, even though firms can derive value from their practice. If someone was looking to article and wanted 1/3 of what they billed, (a) I'd probably laugh, and (b) you're a student who has no control over billings - it's a terrible idea for benchmarking your pay. I'll let someone else who is in a smaller firm or has dealt with this situation weigh in for OP since in my world, everyone gets paid, and gets paid a decent amount per week, but I would strongly suggest that the OP ignore the entire post I'm quoting.
  3. Yes, Osgoode is practically a guarantee with these stats. The median GPA was 3.87 and median LSAT was 166 at U of T last year. Your GPA isn't that far below the median, and your LSAT is well above. U of T is also a lot harder to get into than Osgoode.
  4. Focusing on OP's question about OCIs specifically, a letter of reference isn't useful. It's not requested by the firms for a reason and I don't think any big firm is going to pay attention to a letter of reference, if they read it at all, certainly not from a professor. I also probably wouldn't put in an appendix to an application explaining your grades. They are what they are and emergencies happen all the time in practice and otherwise. You may have to take your lumps and see how many interviews you get and then focus on winning your interviewers over at that stage. To the extent your grades come up in a verbal discussion, you can take the opportunity to spin your exam results accordingly. Doing it in writing is not ideal and like NYCLawyer said, sympathy for emergencies only goes so far - you still got the grades you got and there's no basis on which anyone can reasonably say you would have done better. My comments on a letter of reference would possibly vary for a smaller firm - they might be more likely to read them and consider them when making a hiring decision than a big firm would. Likewise can't comment on applications to a broader subset of firms in terms of including an appendix. But for OCIs? You try your best with any firms that are willing to give you a shot and then work on improving your 2L grades.
  5. The latter. At most (all?) schools, your first year is set for you. After that, it is generally wide open, though certain schools may have mandatory upper year courses that you would need to fit in at some point, or mandatory "types" of classes (e.g. you might need to take at least one paper course). Course selection otherwise is wide open and you focus or not at your own discretion. Addressing your last point, unlike undergrad, you shouldn't be advertising "knowledge" based on your law school classes to prospective clients or otherwise. The only way this comes up is by advertising "interest" to certain firms, e.g. if you are applying to an estates focused firm, you can demonstrate that you are interested by showing that you took multiple courses relating to estates. Law school is the basics and everything else is learned in practice. You should advertise your knowledge of a certain area to clients (or other lawyers), once you are a lawyer, based on your self-assessed satisfactory competency in that area. This isn't like undergrad where you have a specialty in molecular biology because you majored or minored in it. You might have a specialty in estates because you work in that area, know the law, keep up on the law, take CPD focused on it, attend conferences related to it, etc.
  6. This is not a global rule and if a law firm can't work with a Macbook they have some shoddy and low rent IT practices. My firm as well as plenty of small firms I am familiar with have easy offsite access for Macbook computers. If your firm can't set up a VPN that connects to a citrix or other software based instance of Windows, they might as well still be working with typewriters. This doesn't apply to tiny firms of a couple to a handful of people because in that case it may not make financial sense to do so. I've used a Macbook for years, particularly because I got a free, full replacement partway through law school and haven't had to upgrade in a long time. It was fine for law school and has been fine for practice as well.
  7. Grades do trump all in that someone with Straight As and nothing else is getting a lot more interviews than a B student with a ton of ECs. But as you start to move from the margins, the analysis gets muddied a bit. Not having ECs is not going to kill your chances - the initial OCI screening is still heavily weighted towards performance in school. You just might have to work harder in your interviews as you may have less obviously interesting things for an interviewer to ask about. But that's not to say you can't overcome that. When I interviewed, most of my interviewers brought up the same one thing on my resume and then with half we moved on to discussing Toronto sports or law school generally. Being engaging, intelligent and memorable in a positive way will trump what was on the paper when it comes time for those folks doing hiring to make a final decision.
  8. Come on dude. Why would you not apply just based on someone saying grades matter on a forum? What's the cost and time commitment to whip up some cover letters? You've got a smattering of above average grades and some course awards. Just apply. Literally nobody on this forum can give you a definitive answer on chances for jobs because nobody here is involved in hiring at more than their own, one firm/department. That goes double for jobs in government.
  9. This advice may be applicable to small firms but not to OCIs with big firms. Big firms don't necessarily care if you have an express interest in a practice area, because you aren't applying to one practice area, and big firms know better than candidates that their preferences will shift over time. I can't tell you the number of candidates who come through with weirdly specific interests or a misread of how a big firm operates, particularly for student training, and tank their chances by seeming inflexible or too interested in a niche area we don't practice or don't have a ton of spots for students in. My firm will track the expressed interest of a candidate in their cover letter and help use that to try and get them in front of the right folks, but it doesn't go much deeper than that. I'm also pretty sure nobody ever cross-references the resume against the cover letter to see how sincere the interest is. When I applied, none of my ECs connected with the practice of the firm generally, but there were some interesting ones involved that gave me something to talk about. In my cover letter, the closest I got to expressing an interest in anything to do with practice was a reference to the firm's focus on complex, often multidisciplinary issues, or something along those lines, which I found in some promotional material. I agree that all candidates need to put some shit on their resume, because that's how I (and most other interviewers) find hooks to begin a conversation. If the resume has nothing at all, that's a problem.
  10. Take a deep breath and calm down. Like immediately calm down. You have above average grades. You will be fine for OCIs, unless you come across as this neurotic in person. Speak to your CDO about mock interviews so you can see if it is something you do in person. 1L jobs of some fashion, while not rare, are not very common, especially at bigger firms. This will not be a hindrance for something like Ontario OCIs (I cannot speak to prairie hiring). I was hired as a 22 year old and my resume wasn't a world-beater by any stretch - grades with the ability to connect to interviewers remain the easiest route to certain law jobs. Stop panicking and review your resume and start to learn to talk about things you've done in an interesting fashion. Re-examine things you thought might not be interesting or relevant and find a nugget of something to talk about and focus on. Spend the summer polishing cover letters and your resume so they are in top shape (assuming you are applying for Ontario OCIs). Also again, relax and calm down. You're worried about an articling position 2-3 years from now, with above average grades. It's not time to be Chicken Little. Paranoid is a good song but a terrible way to go through life.
  11. Maritime law is particularly relevant if you want to be a freemen lawyer.
  12. Lol I have an honours degree in a subtopic of biology and secured one of the top positions available in something like the OCI recruit. I'm not insecure about anything and I think the folks that think their computer science degree means their god's gift to the universe deserve to be taken down a peg. Comp science students are no better than bio students are no better than English students are no better than business students. But they sure do love to pop up on the forum to pat themselves on the back more than any other major.
  13. Why waste an entire year when he or she can just study for it for 6-8 weeks like a lot of folks? I wrote mine after 3rd year undergrad and just studied from shortly after the end of the semester until whatever day I wrote the exam in early June. Wasting a year before undergrad studying for the LSAT is an astronomically terrible idea. Especially since LSAT will expire 5 years later, and when they may not even be eligible or want to go to law school after studying in undergrad. There's a lot of stupid ideas on the forum but this one really ranks at or near the top.
  14. The majority of candidates find law jobs outside of the OCI recruit. You'll need to put more emphasis on hustling, work harder on networking, make sure your resume and cover letters are pristine and you'll need to apply more broadly. Start talking to your CDO about options, review the lists of available employment opportunities and try and get an application in for everything you can find. Also still apply to OCIs - you never know. You should also ask to meet with your professors and go over exams and work on your study habits/exam writing abilities. You should also consider whether you might benefit from some more paper courses in upper years. Your 2L grades will matter for things like the articling recruit or finding articling jobs after 2L/during 3L, so improving on 1L should be a priority.
  15. Not really. OP has an A-A+ average. It's helpful advice that people give all the time to the folks who lack perspective on their grades, and is a reminder to calm down and not hyperventilate about "going downhill" all the distant way to an A-. There was that one McGill student all over these forums who needed to consistently get that advice because she was having meltdowns about not having a 3.9 or something ridiculous. It is very much overblown that clerks have straight As, because straight As are exceedingly rare and not everyone with the grades to clerk wants to go clerk anyway. I personally would have had a negative view of any of my student peers that had OP's grades and described getting an A- instead of an A or A+ as "downhill" or having to compensate for a single B+. They get ostracized as the grade-grubby, gunner types that lack perspective. You may not like the advice, but it was fairly given to remind someone to keep things in perspective.
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