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KingLouis last won the day on April 15

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  1. Let me give a nuanced answer to this. The other post was short only because I was so busy. If people are really feeling this, the only thing that's going to help is knowing that other people feel the same way and struggle through this shit each day. When you're in law school and you have a trajectory toward something, you're blind to the reality that when you get into the adult world you're going to lose control over everything. Traditional mid-life crises happen when people buy into something and lose their identity and know that something's gone wrong and it can't be fixed. That's a feeling most people completely avoided up 'til the point of being handed their JD. Aside from people who are truly depressed, the OCI and grade stuff will take on realistic dimensions as problems that can easily be solved. The problem of losing your naivete and having to work to feed yourself and eventually dying isn't something that you can slough off by going for a long walk. You can't return to childhood. The next stage of life is struggling to gain perspective and finding some way to enjoy the struggle. The temporary relief of a new relationship or a promotion or having kids will have to be integrated into that narrative. But those things are temporary. Surround yourself with people who can understand you. Do your best each day to maintain perspective. If you believe in something, fight for it. Then you'll be fine. But it won't be like it was.
  2. Of course many of us feel the same way. You have to think of this as you'd think about a person you loved who split with you or died. My euphemism for it--which I use all the time--is "Adult Life." It sucks. It's not good. Sure, there are some interesting things about it. But the responsibility of working and paying bills and being a spouse or parent is as far away from those carefree days as you'll get. Also, aging isn't so great. There are good things to look forward to, but they won't be as good as the things that have passed. No different than Gatsby staring at the distant, blinking light.
  3. Yep. Only there's a slight difference in the quality-of-life of someone who spends their time painting pictures or writing fiction vs. someone who's arguing cases at trial. The real problem is the Ontario government continuing to spit on defence lawyers while at the same time using both hands to stroke the balls of Crown counsel. If everyone shared the pain equally there wouldn't be so much anger. But when a retired Crown's DB pension is paying $150,000/year in perpetuity, there's a lot to be upset about.
  4. Increasingly I think the answer is "no one". For example, in one pretty big district in southern Ontario the departure/retirement of all of the defence lawyers over 55 would mean 3 defence lawyers for 6 courts. I'm pausing as I write to reflect on that. But it's true. And that district has 28 Crowns (I was counting names on their phone directory).
  5. LAO has a very limited "public defender" stable of lawyers--their Senior Counsel program. It's been obvious for the past few years that they're winding it down despite the obvious need for and success of the program. They publish annual reports. I think they had 20-something lawyers a few years ago, and now they're down to 11. I know some of the lawyers--one particularly, in Toronto, who's excellent. The reason they're gradually shuttering it is because it's more expensive to fund the program than it is to grant clients certificates. Yet the reason the program exists is because those lawyers are largely representing clients who can't get certificates (i.e. they're not "legally eligible"). Let me pronounce authoritatively on this subject: the best service model is Duty Counsel doing simple pleas and adjournments and diversions, private counsel doing complex matters where certificates can be issued, and a 20-30 strong panel of LAO "public defenders" providing full representation to poor (financially eligible) clients who can't afford counsel and can't get a certificate. All it would really take to put a serious dent in the number of self-rep poor people leaning on DC for guilty pleas (when they should be setting trials) is a $5 million-ish investment. LAO made that investment five years ago, but now it's getting peeled back.
  6. When I was in LS my prof would talk about the graying of the bar and the opportunities for younger lawyers doing defence. In the past 7 years, I've seen the graying transition to outright thinning as those lawyers have died or retired or just turned their practice into a plea-only type deal. (I've really seen this latter situation pick up in the last few years.) The odd thing is that there is more work than ever for younger lawyers. Only it's increasingly pro bono work. I guess one big difference between Crown and Defence is that the Crown gets paid for prosecuting a de minimis case whereas the defence lawyer won't be able to squeeze a dime out of LAO (or, in fairness, the client) for defending it. While we'd all love in our 20s and 30s to do that kind of work, the cost of living is just so goddamn extreme in Ontario that you really have to be prepared to accept the consequences. No--the future doesn't look good for the defence bar. My strange impression having worked in so many different districts is that all defence lawyers are either 35 or 65. And I see more people leaving than entering the profession. I believe the Crown will continue to poach defence lawyers over the next 5 years as boomer Crowns retire on their excellent DB pensions. It just doesn't make sense for them to hire new calls who can't run an impaired trial when they can get experienced defence counsel for about the same money. And the bar will continue to thin, and the demands on the remaining defence-side trial lawyers will grow more and more extreme.
  7. Challenging yourself to improve or mature or test your mettle is, to me, far different than building a fantasy narrative in which one is the best. That narrative has nothing to do with being challenged. It's solely a facade to flood the reactor chamber of your insecurity with good feelings and prestige so (for a few years) you don't melt down. And, again, analogies from sports or business just don't work well in litigation. The worst Crown can easily beat the best defence lawyer if the evidence and/or the judge are on their side. A teen self-rep who was shot by an officer upon a shoplifting arrest is going to "beat" the best Crown at a trial. You can challenge yourself by taking more difficult cases, but you're not changing the level of competition. I watch SCC hearings and see excellent advocates routinely defeated by the facts--not their opponents. Outside of litigation, I can easily see being the best in a particular firm at rainmaking or pitching or writing and research. But I don't think the op was asking about the desire to be the best pitchman in Canada. I think this is about being the best lawyer or advocate.
  8. Many of us probably have that drive. It's not really a question of suppressing it. It's more like it actually destroys you and then you have to figure out how to live. That's what I was talking about when I said that thing about drifting toward the end of your 30s. I could write something much lengthier, but it's really as simple as saying that the concept of "the best" is too easily pierced to be something you can sustain even into mid-adulthood. If you're "the best" litigator, you've probably built a narrative around yourself that you'll never lose. Well, guess what: you will lose. Then instead of thinking you're the best, the pendulum will swing completely and you'll be the worst. Then you have to deal with that pain somehow. Hence the substance abuse that's rampant in our profession. I'm 36 and my contemporaries are drinking daily now. It's no joke. There's no answer here. And I can't sermonize about this, because it really affects me too. The only thing I can say is that you must have perspective. And you must have some routine for getting back to reality when the ego stuff gets too extreme. You might think this is crazy, but it can be as simple as walking through a cemetery.
  9. Forget about being the best. You're a working adult now drifting toward middle life.--just try to stay humble. Outside of some arena where there's an objective measure of performance, the concept of "the best" is purely a manifestation of insecurity. Purely. We're not talking about some race you can win and therefore know you're the superior competitor. The problem with living as "the best" is that it seeps into every task you perform and every conversation you have. A partner pops in to ask you some obscure legal question and you don't immediately know the answer. The guy in the next office does because he just wrote a memo on it last week. You're crushed. You can see how self-destructive that is.
  10. I'm in my mid-30s now and approaching that traditional mid-life crisis milestone of 40. My adult approach to satisfaction is figuring out if, in quiet moments, I have peace-of-mind more often than not. Even a 51:49 split would be okay with me. The childhood ideal of being happy all the time doesn't exist in adult life. If your friends or colleagues are living the kind of fairy-tale where they never have a bad day, they're living as children. Remember that. The delusion of believing you can make the right career moves and marry the "right" person and have the perfect kids you always wanted is a dangerous thing. So is the stupid and offensive Hollywood script of the Marie Henein super-litigator adored by the media and aspired to by the hordes of striving young litigators. You have to push those narratives out of your mind. Relationships evolve and decay, and working as a lawyer is an assault on your emotions. No matter how much you stylize and airbrush and puff up another lawyer's life, they're still climbing the same ladder you are, and they still have their own limitations. Adult life is all about accepting those things and making the internal/external changes to minimize their damage. What I'm trying to say is that there are obviously things you want to avoid. Being miserable doing a kind of law you hate 100% of the time is one of those things. But don't expect to love whatever you replace that with 100% of the time. It doesn't work that way.
  11. No, it doesn't get better over time. The only thing you gain is the perspective that comes from going through the troughs and knowing that you've found your equilibrium eventually. Now I can say, "I know this sucks. I know I feel like shit and everything can burn. But eventually this will pass." There's no way to avoid the emotional pain of practice if you're doing your job properly. That's like asking how you can stick your bare hand in a fire and not be burned. If you're losing winnable cases by making mistakes, that's a hell you can only escape by acts of mental lifesaving. Here's the reality: if you're litigating cases by calling evidence, this will happen over and over again. There is no way to escape this, even with maximum preparation. What you have to try to avoid is the delusion of thinking every case is winnable. But here's a ridiculous gloss on your question: I won a trial recently for a client who didn't even show up on the original trial-date. I had to go to his house to get him. Today I saw him at the local convenience store, and he gave me the finger.
  12. This is a relevant topic for 0Ls and practicing lawyers alike. I'm hoping people can stay calm enough that we can have a discussion without the thread being killed. Colleagues and judges have urged me for years to leave the defence-side and go over to MAG because the money's better. These are painful conversations that take place in the most explicit terms: "KingLouis, why don't you become a Crown. It's so hard to make a living as a defence lawyer." I don't want anyone left with the impression that defence lawyers are all millionaires. The guy driving the Rover might just be someone who didn't remit his HST or declare cash income. Those stories are legion. Not everything is as it seems. There's a reason why I know 3 defence counsel who've crossed over to MAG in the last 18 months. We don't even have to discuss the A2J issue of LAO cuts widening the gap between most defence lawyers and Crowns. It's self-evident that we're entering a bad time. I am a busy Ontario criminal defence lawyer. I earn less than a Crown of my year-of-call. I have a wide network of friends and colleagues in the defence bar. Each of them earns less than a Crown of their YOC. When I say "earn," I mean "net income." I will concede the following: The highest earners of the defence bar far outstrip the incomes of the highest-earning Crowns. The lowest earners of the defence bar earn a fraction of the compensation paid to Crowns of their year-of-call. While, as my first point suggests, you can earn far more money as a defence lawyer than you would as a Crown, the lower bound suggested by Point #2 firms up the reality that you can (and will likely) earn less. You'll find in any city or district a handful of lawyers who can bill private clients for $20k on an impaired case or even a YCJA joint submission on a property offence. Anomalies happen. DUI specialists can charge $20k for a loser Charter defence if the client has money and is willing to try anything to keep their licence. The Heneins of the world doing white-collar crime can bill their embezzling clients at $500/hour. And they can even collect the money. I am not saying that's impossible. It's just as possible as a chef leveraging their brand and charging $75 for a $2 spiced chicken thigh. As I've said, at the upper bound, defence lawyers who can bill private clients for five-figure trials are making excellent money. Even if a senior defence lawyer is billing $200k/year, subtract rent, LSO/LawPro fees, HST, a secretary or paralegal, and office administrative costs. Then compare that to a 10-year Ontario Crown with a gross income of $150k-ish. Their fees are paid; they have no administrative costs; they get a paid vacation. They have a DB pension. It's not hard to see who's coming out ahead--even with tax deductions. This doesn't have to be a bitter argument. To me, it's just reality.
  13. I love talking Ontario Crown compensation. Because it's so outrageous. No one had the foresight, years ago, to grasp that LAO funding would be cyclical whilst the Crown CBA would guarantee a steady rise through the ceiling of income disparity. Doug Ford could legislate LAO out of existence tomorrow. Everyone would be a self-rep. But a socially conservative government is never going to touch Crown funding. Anyone could have seen that--I wonder if anyone DID see that. We're now at a point where the disparity is beyond obscene: Ford dynamites LAO, whilst the upper-reaches of Crown compensation hit pretty damn close a top 1% income in Toronto. You have homeless people sitting in court waiting to plead guilty for forgetting their probation appointment. And the Crown's at the front of the room talking about the last $100,000 they spent on their yard. Then they perform the harrowing task of reading a synopsis and putting their sentencing position on the record. No offence to anyone here who wants to be a Crown. But that's why I laugh when I hear someone in MAG worrying about money. If I were a Crown I'd be driving a Bentley now. And I'm dead serious.
  14. I empathize with the OP. It's a difficult situation because you're probably 7 months away from even knowing if you've been admitted to a school. You have to get out of your parents' house. If you're working to save for law school, set aside that plan. You're much better off using that money to rent a room or a small apartment and be on your own. Look for the most immediate and pressing problem; solve that first. You can worry about paying for law school in 4 years once you've graduated. If you're working an office job and making close to minimum wage, think about doing something where you can be outdoors. Mindless general labour is so good for clearing your head. If you can work as part of a crew, you'll be amazed how that transports you from your problems. You don't need to be stuck in a library or your bedroom for the next 3 months studying for the LSAT. That would be a big mistake. Life is difficult and painful. More difficult and painful for some than others. If you can get to the point where you can laugh at and enjoy the absurdity and unfairness, you've--to an extent--won. It's a very rare place to be, though. I know you're living in the whirlwind of a crisis, and I've been there too. Do whatever it takes to get out of your head and stop spinning your wheels. That's the only good advice I can give.
  15. Not a big house. Definitely not a mansion. But I lived in a 350 sq ft apartment for 3 years, and I'd never choose to do that again. I can see the argument for smaller spaces, but it gets prickly for me when you're combining a small space (that you're probably aspiring to leave) with a price-tag that will probably keep you there forever. If someone wants to pay $1,000/month to live in a 500 sq ft apartment with a sink too small for an average sauce pan, that's okay. To pay $30k in after-tax dollars for that privilege is the gateway to a nightmarish reality.
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