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lcrowne last won the day on May 6 2013

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  1. I used to be a big law associate. I went on a year-long secondment to a very important client, which was not entirely my choice. It was so important to the firm that I come back from the secondment that the client entered into a no poaching agreement with the firm. I came back, energized about resuming my position with the firm and building on my relationship with the client as external counsel. Not only was I not welcomed back with any enthusiasm, I was largely ignored, to the point that I left just over a year later. At the time I came back, another associate (same year, same working group), went on a leave of absence to travel. He came back just as I was leaving. By all accounts, that associate was back up to a full practice within weeks. Guess which gender each of us is. This isn't just about mat leave.
  2. I started law school at 36 because I wanted to change careers and didn't really know what else to do. Things started out great--got a great article, got hired back, had a ton of great experiences, has great mentorship, made good friends, all the good stuff. Problem is, 10 years later, I'm hitting the ever-so-cliched "do I really want to be a lawyer for the rest of my life" time. Some of this has been brought on by factors way beyond my control (like my great firm becoming one of those behemoth international firms and never being the same). I'm on my 4th legal job (not counting law school employment, but counting a secondment) and, at this point, would really rather not be a lawyer anymore. I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. (Incidentally, this is the point at which much of your law school cohort will have disappeared from the profession...) But here I am, 46 years old, too old to go back to school AGAIN, and kinda stuck. Can I do this for another 20 years? Probably. I have a good income that's hard to replace, and the job itself gets easier (and more tedious) with time, but I wish I could do something else. All things being equal, I'd go back to my last career, which, but for the money and stability, I liked a lot better than law. I sometimes wonder if I should have made a bigger effort to make things work in my last career, like trying some combo of employment and self-employment. If I'd had a crystal ball, I could have really made something for myself online knowing now what the internet was going to become. Alas... So I guess this is my advice: law is a tough profession, filled with variously unhappy people. It can be a grind, but it can reward you, too. Unfortunately, many of the rewards are financial. If you end up relatively successful like me, you may have enough money, but be disappointed by the lack of challenge and stimulation, as well as the emotional costs--the number of assholes (and nice people too!) with untreated mental illness in law is staggering. And the way that the profession tacitly accepts this fact is, quite frankly, depressing. So, consider what you're giving up to become a lawyer. "Going to law school" is overly romanticized, but really, for most people, it's what you do when you have a terminal undergrad degree and few or unappealing career prospects. There's nothing wrong with that, but when you're older, I think you should consider what the path might look like further down the road. If I was 10 years younger, I would probably be trying to transition out of law at this point, but from what I've looked at, that's a pay cut and a risk I just don't want to take at my age. When you graduate from law school at 39, with some student loan debt and all your savings gone, you have to make up for lost time if you ever hope to retire somewhere that is not under a bridge. Don't get me wrong--overall things are good. But, based on my observations over the last 10 years, it doesn't seem like being a lawyer makes most people happy. The things I know about humanity at this point...
  3. I went to SFU back in the day and spent 6 years in biglaw. For whatever that's worth...
  4. OP, I went to law school (at 36) with a number of mature students, some of whom were even in your age range. They are all still practicing law 6 years later. You don't need to be an academic superstar to be a lawyer. There is a significant need for what I would call "small file" work--residential real estate, small business corporate, middle income divorces and custody, middle income wills and estates, employee-side employment, and so on. Many of the mature students I know went into those types of practices. (Which isn't to say this is the only path. A number of us went into biglaw, and many others are in government.) I agree fully with MP that you need to demonstrate some current aptitude for academic coursework. A few courses from Athabasca with high marks will likely do the trick, along with a decent LSAT. Apply to schools that have a mature student category and write a personal statement that sets out the kind of practice you want. I think you've got a shot.
  5. I went to law school at 36 and got called at 40. I even articled and worked (until very recently) in biglaw! I left to take a plum job in a boutique focusing on the practice area that I love. Happy to chat in PM if you'd like more info.
  6. I articled in biglaw, got called at the age of 40 and still work for the same firm 5 years later.
  7. I work at one of those firms you'd want to know about. But the answer depends on so many things, which city, which practice group, which lawyers in that practice group, that I couldn't possibly give you any meaningful answer to your question. Even in my practice group, my experience varies greatly from that of others. Go into a different practice group, and it's a complete other universe that I have some minor, possibly unhelpful, insights into. Leave my city and go into another city's office--I couldn't begin to give you any opinion. You're best off speaking to people who work in practice groups you'd be interested in joining rather than picking firms based on a random person's assessment of it.
  8. Not to re-rail the thread, but on an almost weekly basis, I cry, forlorn from my office, "why is there so much goddamn math in the practice of law!?!"
  9. I went to one of these back in the day and felt somewhat duped when I realized that it was one of those pretend to debate issues but really a conservatives attack the unsuspecting liberals who have been invited to present their points. I recall actually apologizing to one presenter for how embarrassingly rude a large contingent of the audience was to him. I'm pretty sure a lawyer there told me (in all sincerity) that hate speech laws threatened their right to publish non-mainstream views on property law. This same group held a debate on campus that year about abortion where the group's presenters steamrolled some presenters from Planned Parenthood (I think) with fake facts about abortion--this was around the time when that bill was on the table about fetus' rights (or whatever the nonsense was circa 2009). Mainly I was mad because I traveled to go to this thing and was stuck there for the whole weekend. YMMV.
  10. IIRC, each school had its own definition of mature. For most it was your age, not your years since graduating, though.
  11. This isn't really for the OP, but for other hopefuls following along. I've been a lawyers for three whole years now. In addition to the actual law (of which there is a never-ending slog beyond law school), here are some other subjects I've had to become extensively familiar with in order to competently represent my clients. Note, I did not know a single thing about any of these things before the file landed on my desk: financial statements and accounting corporate tax schemes business valuation design, engineering, and operation of various utilities (from valve failures to entire system designs) lot grading (this involves physics and stuff!) airport operations securities trading Law school did not prepare me for any one of these files. But, in a way, undergrad did. Despite what many of you seem to think, undergrad is not a pointless hoop to jump through before going on to the real deal that is law school. Undergrad, if you're doing it right, is where (as someone upthread pointed out) you learn how to read, think, assimilate, and synthesize information. By the end of it, you should be able to critically engage with material and form your own understanding and judgment of its worth. This is a critical skill for being a lawyer. Law school, on the other hand, teaches you the very basics of the law. Interestingly, law school requires very little of the skills you acquired in undergrad--aside from the ability to read large volumes of material. It can be quite frustrating, because you're rarely, if ever, asked to critically engage with the material. The law is the law. What you think about it is largely irrelevant. Once you've finished law school, you should be able to look at a real life legal problem, identify the basic legal issues (i.e. this is a contract and it's been breached) and go from there. Hopefully, within a couple of years of practice, you'll start to have a sense of how much you don't know, but you'll at least be able to start to recognize those gaps and strategies for filling them. (i.e. I need a tax lawyer to give an opinion on the tax consequences of the damages for breach of that contract). Once you start really practicing, your undergrad education and your legal training start to interact. Your client has a problem. Before you can give an opinion on how to solve it, you need to understand the facts. This may involve some learning--and even further study--to really understand what's going on. Then you need to understand how the law applies to your facts, or whether you can realistically bend the law to serve your client's interests. You need to be able to synthesize the results from various decisions and critically apply them to your client's case. This is what is so cool--and so hard--about being a lawyer. It's one of the few jobs where being smart is truly an asset. But it's also a job that will grind you down if you're not smart enough. Now don't get me wrong--you don't have to become an expert on everything under the sun. You'll hire people to do that. But you still need to be able to understand and evaluate what your expert is telling you. You're also going to need to understand the bigger picture--your client's practical concerns. The law is only one tool in your box, and often, you'll leave it in there for another day. You may be right, but is there another solution that won't cost $100k in legal fees? And on top of this, there's all the other bullshit that comes with being a lawyer: unreasonable clients and opposing counsel, office politics, business development and marketing, the ongoing administrative minutiae of legal practice, and so on. You have to be able to juggle all this while being one of the smartest people in the room and keeping your shit together in the most difficult of circumstances. It's not hard to see why half the profession drops out within 5 years. So, if you're thinking that law schools are being "unfair" by not admitting you because your grades and your lsat are a little low, think about whether performing averagely in undergrad and organizing some stuff outside classes is even in the ballpark of what being a lawyer requires. If you're going to make it in practice, you need to show up with a lot of skills already under your belt. Once you're in the conveyer belt of law school, the opportunity to do so becomes more and more limited. (And for the record, I'm one of those "back door" applicants. I didn't have the undergrad GPA for law school (for similar, but less serious reasons than YB), but got in based on grad school marks and a highish LSAT.)
  12. http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2015/06/how-to-share-your-unpopular-opinion-without-being-an-asshole/#idc-container
  13. Word. I don't take sick days anymore. I just "work from home." Everybody understands what that means.
  14. At least where I am (not Vancouver), most municipal law is practiced in large and boutique firms. Only big cities have in-house counsel; most smaller cities, towns, rural districts, etc engage external counsel when needed. So, if municipal is what you really want to do, you are probably best off figuring out which firms do that kind of work and applying there. And even though most of the work may come from other parts of BC, it will likely still be done in Vancouver firms. Edited to add: a good chunk of municipal work is litigation, though. Other possibilities include acting as counsel for local municipal boards (approval of development permits and the like), but again, this is largely external counsel in those same downtown firms.
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