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Everything posted by lcrowne

  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.
  15. Me. Less than 5 years to go. How the fuck did this happen? I could have been voted least likely for all of this. And re judging. As far as I can tell, it's also a lot about political connections. The person I know who is now a judge was very involved in Conservative politics for a very long time.
  16. I'd be careful of thinking of work-life balance as a 9-5 job. I recently went from private practice to in house. In private practice, I worked more hours, but had more interesting and engaging work. I also had a lot more flexibility in terms of work schedule. Feel tired this morning? Come in late. Want to leave early to have drinks with friends on a Friday? No problem! Just make sure the work is done on time and the rest is up to you. In house is a 9-5 job. But that means I have to be here at 9 and can't leave before 5. If I want a day off, I have to take a sick day or a vacation day. And so far, the work is pretty soul crushingly boring. Fortunately, the current gig is only temporary and I get to go back to the firm at the end of it. But for me, the flexibility and control over my schedule is far more worth it than predictable hours. Ymmv, though.
  17. I don't weigh in much here any more, but I'll chime in on this point. I went to law school at 36 at left a job making roughly $50k. I wanted to do all the things you did, but ended up at a national firm and have just moved in house to a very large corporation. The things that made it worth it to me were: I could pay cash for my tuition; My partner could support the both of us on their salary; I was willing and able to move to another province to go to school (and did); I was willing and able to move anywhere to get a job (which ultimately wasn't necessary); I was willing and able to stay where I went to school and not go back home (and I did); and At the end of the day, I was not disillusioned when I realized that being a constitutional/human rights lawyer was not actually a real job. Essentially, there was very little risk for me because I could afford it and could do what I needed to do to get a good job. And it worked out--for me. I have counterparts for whom law school was a spectacular disaster. And be wary of the "just be a criminal, family, or immigration lawyer" folks. These are hard, often soul-crushing, jobs, and when you first start out, you likely won't be making a ton of money for the effort you put in. I know some people who have really made a go of it doing this work, but you need to take a lot of initiative, have an entrepreneurial spirit, and be able to afford the risk that it doesn't work out. The question I would ask myself in your shoes is whether, at the end of law school, you become some sort of corporate lawyer (in the most generic sense), the sacrifices you and your family make will have been worth it to have gotten you there? I'd talk to some real lawyers and get a sense of what they do day to day. Does it sound better than what you're doing? Does it sound $250k and hours and hours away from your family every day worth it? Only you can decide.
  18. I burst out laughing when I read this. This is totally my job. And I work in biglaw.
  19. Word. I had to excuse myself from a 2-day JDR to get called. Started as a student, finished as a lawyer the next day.
  20. Y'all know that if you earn more than $60k (for 2014), and you collect EI, you have to repay 30% of your benefits come tax time?
  21. I totally agree with this. I'm 3 years post graduation and am only now starting to feel like I'm back in control of my life. There's still some ways to go.
  22. The program I want doesn't have a start date yet. I wouldn't be in a position to start until next fall anyways. So I'm going to sit on the idea for a while, but I still think it's a bad idea and, ultimately, of no career value.
  23. The reason that private schools are a scam is that they admit anyone, whether they are academically prepared for the program or not. This is also true of many programs at public universities that admit international students (for their increased tuition fees), many of whom simply don't have the English language proficiency to succeed in the program. So, they take these people's tuition money knowing full well that they have no hope in hell of succeeding in the program. Then the students struggle along, repeat some courses that they've failed (more tuition $$) and eventually drop out. Then the students who never would have gotten jobs in the first place aren't part of their job placement statistics because they haven't graduated. Why do you think it's so easy for Canadians to get into law school in Australia and the UK? It's not because Canadians are inherently smarter...
  24. Pyke, what did you decide on this? I have recently been eyeing one as well, particularly since they can be done online. I need to be talked out of this post haste.
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