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sunnyskies1992 last won the day on September 2 2018

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  1. To update my previous post (I previously posted that my husband’s firm cut associate salaries by 20%), his firm announced last week that they would be restoring all associate salaries back up to the regular levels. They will not be providing any back pay for the lost salary from April to June though. Upon review of the firm’s receivables and the associates’ billable hours, it appears there was no drop in revenue in Spring 2020 as compared to Spring 2019. So the firm will be keeping the difference. At my firm my boss has rehired everyone except for the three part-time students, who are likely to remain permanently laid off. Revenue dropped by approximately 22% in April and May, then rebounded in June to higher than normal levels. We were hired back at our full wages, but we are unlikely to be paid for the three weeks in which we were temporarily laid off with no salary but expected to keep bare-bones operations running. Three weeks’ salary isn’t enough to sue or make a complaint, but I know that decision significantly hurt morale amongst the employees and people stopped going above and beyond for the firm, which may have an impact on the firm’s revenue in the coming months.
  2. I once worked at a firm like this. Each month, the senior lawyer that I worked for had me meet in a private room with a printout of my billings for the month. She would then have me change 50-70% of my entries into the code for non-billable work. I was aware that I was missing my target by a large margin and began trying to work longer and longer hours to compensate, as I was aware that missing target would disqualify me from any bonuses and impact my future at the firm. I was also aware that I was not the only worker that she was doing this to, and that she was doing this liberally with the summer students, articling students, junior associates, legal assistants, and paralegals that passed through her department. I can't say for sure, but from my observation it appeared that the senior lawyer was under immense pressure to meet her own billable target which was quite high, and to also network for new clients. She also had young children in daycare and had to generally leave by 5 to pick up the kids. Often there were insufficient funds in the retainer to have all students, lawyers, and staff bill their hours in full, and the clients were unwilling or had no funds to pay more. I think there was a lot of pressure on her to have all of her own hours count as billable hours so that she could leave the office at 5 and maintain her good standing at the firm. When I resigned, I spoke to HR about this practice. HR said that they were unaware that this was occurring, and that the official policy of the firm was to reduce hours across the board (i.e. if a 10% discount was given, that all partners, associates, and students who worked on the file would have their hours reduced by 10%). HR said that they would be speaking with that lawyer. I don't know what happened after that. I do know that the two articling students who worked for her (and who were hired back into that department) subsequently resigned within the year.
  3. You are probably already doing this, but if you are not I would consider "warm networking" in addition to applying for posted positions. Contact everyone that you know (friends, family, former law school classmates, acquaintances in the legal community) and advise that you are looking for [describe the position you are looking for, be specific], and ask to be forwarded any leads. Ask lawyers out for coffee. Volunteer for a good cause and make contacts. If you are not part of the Facebook Law Job Exchange Facebook group, I would join, as they have some great opportunities. I would also consider sending my resume in to legal assistant/paralegal positions and asking if the firm would consider hiring a junior associate. The firm who is posting the position has work that needs doing, and the ability to pay a salary. Articling and the first year of call are the hardest, if you can get over that hump things will likely get easier.
  4. A small/midsized litigation firm that I know has laid off all part-time staff and has cut salaries of remaining lawyers and support staff by 25-50%. The idea is that the boss will be using the wage subsidy to cover 75% of employee salaries up to a maximum of $847/week ($44k/year). The wage cuts will be a temporary measure until the courts reopen or until the wage subsidy runs out (at which point the firm may close completely).
  5. I would be applying widely and considering any job offers I received very seriously. It's an extremely competitive job market right now with all of the layoffs that have recently occurred, and likely not a time where you'll get to pick and choose between multiple offers. Right now a paying employer is a good employer. If you do get laid off, apply for benefits as soon as possible as the government is wading through 1.5 million+ applications and you don't want to be at the back of the line.
  6. Even if a layoff starts off as temporary, it may turn into a permanent one. If it does, the employee will be glad that they took home their things, especially if relations between the employer and employee end up souring down the road. Also, if it turns into a permanent layoff, the employee will be glad they started searching for jobs early. When my boss first laid us off, he was insistent that it was a temporary layoff and that all staff and lawyers would return to work by June 1, 2020. After two weeks, he ended up rehiring three employees (myself and the two managers). The four of us are now running the existing work. He has now pushed back the start date for the remaining employees, and is considering not rehiring them back at all. I asked him whether he needed to communicate with the laid-off employees that he was considering making the layoffs permanent, and he said there was too much uncertainty and that he would play things by ear.
  7. My husband works at a mid-sized solicitor’s firm specializing in real estate, corporate commercial, and wills & estates. All associate lawyers were called into the office today and advised that their salaries would be cut by 20% immediately. There was no warning, and the boss would not answer whether this would be a temporary reduction in pay or a permanent one.
  8. All lawyers and legal assistants at my firm have been laid off from Monday March 23, 2020 to June 1, 2020. I question the legality of this as temporary layoffs are neither permitted by our contracts nor part of our industry nor done by consent, and because we were not provided with notice/severance/holiday pay. However, I’m worried that if I ask too many questions I just won’t be hired back in June, and it’s not a great time to be searching for jobs.
  9. It depends. In general, you become more efficient over time and can thus more easily hit your billable hour targets. As a 2+ year call you also have more mobility and are eligible for a larger variety of roles, thus you can choose something that works for you. For me the turning point came when I reached a certain level of seniority in the firm where if I said no to tasks I felt fairly confident that I wouldn’t be fired.
  10. When answering a question like this, I think the base question is, “Am I likely to get a “better” offer elsewhere”? Better is subjective to each individual. That question is dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to: 1. Practice area: Not all practice areas have the same level of compensation. A 1st year criminal lawyer is likely to earn less than a 1st year at a boutique litigation firm. 2. Job market: Are there a lot of openings right now in your area for 1st year associates? Or are people struggling to find work? Keep in mind that 2-5 year calls tend to be significantly more marketable than brand new calls. 3. Mentorship: Are you getting a good learning experience at your firm? If they pay less but invest good time in teaching you, that’s worth considering. 4. Value-Added: Do you produce exceptional work? Are you extremely hardworking? Do you possess traits that other firms may value, such charisma/rainmaking ability, a second language, etc? 5. Geographic location: Is the firm situated in a convenient location for you? Or are you commuting in? 6. Culture: Is the culture of the firm a good fit for you? Would you be happier elsewhere? 7. Work-life balance: Do you have good work-life balance? How many hours per week are you expected to work? Keep in mind that asking for a raise may make an employer consider replacing you. At two separate firms now, I’ve seen someone ask for a raise and the employer has given it. Shortly after that, the employer hired a junior to train under that individual. A few months thereafter, after the new person had been fully trained, the original raise-asker was let go with severance, with the employer citing cash flow issues and concerns over the economy. Not saying that this happens in every scenario, but it is a possibility.
  11. The in-house counsel I know appear to have the best work-life balance. One such acquaintance of mine advises that he generally works 9-5:30 pm, with no evenings or weekends. Another says that she generally works 40-50 hour weeks, and that as long as she is in the office between the core operating hours of 10:00 am to 3:00 pm she can do the rest of her work remotely. It's not an area that most people think of when applying for law school, but foreclosures work has excellent work-life balance compared to other areas of litigation. I have almost all of my evenings off, and I have never worked a single weekend since starting at the firm two years ago. I think this is because as opposed to other areas of litigation, in which you and the other side each set approximately 50% of the hearings, in foreclosures we essentially set 100% of the hearings. Thus, things are done on our schedule. Also, the majority of our hearings go uncontested, as the other side acknowledges that they borrowed the money, and generally has no money to retain counsel (as if they did, they'd likely be paying their mortgage instead). In addition, almost all of our work is done on a summary basis in Chambers, and we rarely (if ever) proceed to a full trial (this may vary by province). As a junior lawyer I generally work 50-60 hour weeks, but my boss (senior counsel) works less than that. Also, perhaps consider a firm with flexible work arrangements.My firm lets me start early to get my hours in (7:00 am to 6:30 pm), so I can come home to have dinner with my husband. Other acquaintances of mine have commented that being able to work remotely or work varying hours on different days allowed them to schedule activities on the evenings and weekends. Of the litigation practice areas, family law is likely one of the areas with the worst work-life balance, because all of your applications tend to be both urgent and last-minute (i.e. protection orders, s. 91 applications to freeze family assets, etc). During family trials you will also likely be working 16-18 hours per day. Criminal law is also difficult because clients need to be able to reach you at all hours of the night/evenings/weekends, and because clients don't come to your office (you need to travel to various courthouses). My husband works as a solicitor (real estate, corporate, wills & estates), and he generally works about 50 hours per week (9:30 am to 7:30 pm). However, he will go through busy times where he's working until 2 am and then getting up at 5 am (I'd say those times generally work out to about eight weeks a year). If you take a yearly average he and I likely work about the same number of hours.
  12. Of the four small/midsized firms I’ve worked for since being called, 2 paid for my bar fees and 2 didn’t.
  13. I think the going rate is currently between 60-80k. If the offer is 60k+ and your boss/firm is not crazy, I’d probably take it to continue to get post-call experience, a steady salary, and (hopefully) some mentorship.
  14. Great thread idea @Hegdis! 1. Generally having my weekends off (used to work Saturdays and Sundays for retail); 2. Being able to eat out at lunch; and 3. Being able to go to Costco and buy the random stuff my partner requests over and above our regular groceries.
  15. How do you handle losing cases? Do you get better over time at trying to keep it in perspective, and learning for next time? Is there any way to shut off the spiral of self-doubt? It’s one thing to acknowledge that every court application is a calculated risk, and that you weigh the pros and cons with the client in advance, and that you’ve decided to take your chances. At some level, though, you believed that the outcome would come out in your favour (especially as the Plaintiff), otherwise you would have accepted a settlement. The rumination on “maybe I should have said this” or “maybe I should have told the client that” or “maybe I should have accepted a settlement” or “maybe if I were a better/smarter/more experienced/more confident lawyer this would have gone differently” or “maybe I just fuck up the lives of people who trust me” keeps me up for weeks and the impact of any losses outweighs 100x the impact of any wins.
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