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Everything posted by SS624

  1. I can't really answer either of those questions. What I would recommend you do is browse through people's profiles on Linkedin. Do some searching and see what type of background in house counsel have for various types of positions. You'll see their year of call, city, and how long they worked where and did what. It's probably the best way for you to figure out the pathway to get to those positions.
  2. I'm pretty sure that both started out in private practice and then left after a few years. I know a ton of other lawyers in in-house positions, I just don't know their salaries so haven't mentioned them. Most people seem to start off in private practice. It makes sense, since organizations want their hires to have some experience since often in house roles can be relatively independent. Government was everything - civil litigation, environment, social services. I think civil litigation was likely the busiest.
  3. I think I can shed some insight into what (some) lifestyles look in Alberta doing in house/government work. I did a summer stint with the Alberta government. Most of the lawyers arrived at 8 and left around 4-5. They took lunches, chatted quite a bit, would leave early to go for drinks every now and then, etc. But things do get very busy for them depending on what is going on. For example, if there's a trial or a big case they work a lot of overtime. Sometimes a ministry is also asking for a work product ASAP and to comply you have to stay late. Generally though, I would say their lifestyles have a lot more balance than private practice, but their jobs aren't always limited to regular business hours. It's also a lot harder to be pulling those 60 hour work weeks like your private practice friends when your salary is lower. They start around $90 and top out around $185 at the end of your career. I think there's been raise freezes though... Another lawyer I know works in house at a large corporation and said she makes $130k and does 40 hours a week. She's admittedly not career motivated and while there are plenty of opportunities for her to work harder or do overtime, she declines them. She doesn't get a bonus or a raise and won't be promoted at all, but she's fine with it. Another lawyer I know works in house at a small corporation and makes $110k. Hopes to eventually go to around $140 over time. Work hours are max 40 a week with a daily lunch. There's also limited room for advancement though, including bonuses, but the pay off is guaranteed work-life balance. I think if you want in house, generally you'll be able to find an in house job that allows you to work as much as you want. Some of them though are hard to get and require you to put in a few years in private practice to be competitive.
  4. Cold-emailing can definitely work if you do it right. I was looking for a job in a different city during my first year of call, and I cold-emailed two lawyers at big national/international firms and were offered jobs at both. I think the trick is that you have to genuinely be interested in the lawyer's area of practice or firm you are cold-emailing. Your email should be both personal to you and personalized to them. Otherwise I think it doesn't work and people's bullshit-meters go off. What I would do is not send an application at first, but email a partner at the firm and express interest in their practice area(s) or the firm. Introduce yourself as a student looking for articles, and ask them some questions about their firm and practice areas. Show interest and try to rationally connect their individual firm with your desire to article for them. It's a lot more work than merely spamming a bunch of firms with your application, but I think it has a higher chance of success?
  5. As others have said I don't think it's very possible as an articling student because your schedule is really not your own. You can certainly try, but there will inevitably be people wondering where you are or sending you urgent emails. There's more of an expectation that you'll be around at their beck and call. As an associate however, it's very possible, especially as you get more independence. I work at a large 100+ lawyer firm and a few of the junior associates go to the gym during their lunch hours. You're much more able to control your schedule and balance work around a gym break. On the plus side they then stay in the office until later and look like 'harder workers' 😂
  6. Interesting. My international-sized firm doesn't do anything like this for lawyers, but I know they have something like that for staff. Lawyers are on their own for investing.
  7. Hi OP, I admittedly don't work at one of the 'classic' seven sisters (Blakes, Davies, Goodmans, McCarthy, Osler, Stikeman, and Torys) nor do I work in Toronto, but I work at an international firm in another busy market. I also find that asking people what time they log on/off every day is not the best manner of testing workload, since there are periods of chaos and calm at big firms so these numbers vary widely week to week or month to month. It's also so difficult to get a sense of workload this way because some lawyers work 8 am - 7 pm, but only bill 7 hours because they're socializing and browsing the internet in between files or taking a full lunch. Others work 8 am - 5 pm but bill 8 hours because every waking moment is on the clock. You may want to ask people how many billable and non billable hours they fulfill a month/year, or just ask more generally what their lives look like. For example, I will clock 1850 billable hours for the year as of next week. Some weeks are hell for me and I hate my life and want to die. Other times I am so happy to be at my job and I have great balance and finish at 4 pm for days straight. I may bill 13 hours one day, but then I'll try and take the next day entirely off to decompress. Overall it's tough to sustain and you sacrifice a lot. Reaching that target is hard and requires a lot of work. I'm sure someone here at a large firm in Toronto can provide some insight into their specific lifestyle. I imagine it's the same though, if not worse.
  8. There's a similar post called "How to not get into 100k + debt pursuing a law degree" where people have shared some of their experiences and insight. You may want to check it out. I graduated with 70k student debt in 2016, and it was paid off three years later. I made $55k articling and then kept the same standard of living under that salary over the next three years despite my salary going up significantly each year as an associate. I kept my old car, rented a cheap apartment, didn't buy fancy things, travelled to cheaper destinations. You can pay your debt off relatively easily if you don't fall into the trap of trying to mimic the flashiness of lawyers years ahead of your call with much more disposable income. Yeah many young lawyers were more fashionable that me with cooler gadgets and better pads, but I felt so good every month siphoning all my remaining paycheque towards my debt. I think the trick is to convince yourself to stay at a lower standard of living similar to one you articled with or had in law school. Then all your excess associate salary goes to your debt. It can be tough at the start to not feel pressured to look the part as a lawyer, particularly if you are working in a financial district where everyone seems so glamourous. But ignore it.
  9. Thought I would add my two cents in here for those worried about struggling! I graduated with $74k in law school debt in 2016. I was stressed as all hell, but then I paid it off three years later in September 2019 while living on my own. My salaries slowly increased from 55k while articling, 75k, 98k, and then 130k (moved to a city with higher pay grades that last year). I really focused on paying down my debt as much as I could, but I was still able to take 2 international vacations each year so I was by no means miserly - just cautious in what I purchased. Outside of vacations I think I kept the same standard of living throughout until the last penny was paid off. Alternatively, I have friends who graduated in 2015 and are making $160k+ but who still haven't paid off their debts because they make the minimum payments. Instead they live lavish lifestyles and just consider the debt to be like a monthly expense. There's no rush for them to pay it off. The debt melts off a lot faster/easier than you think. My advice to anyone would be to maximize those student loans and ENJOY THEM. Eventually, you'll likely find that you have more money than time when you're a lawyer and wish you hadn't been so money-cautious in law school, when you had more time than money. So take an extra $10k out after you graduate and go on a trip around the world! (...after Covid)
  10. For your first number of years practicing as a lawyer (I would say 1 - 7 at my firm), your year of call is very important. To quote the word you used, measurement stick, it really is just that. One key point is that year of call typically sets salary. Most firms advance associate salaries on a lock-step grid depending on year of call with some deviation for how profitable you are and how hard you work. For example, at my firm you make $90k as a 1st year call, $110k as a 2nd year, $130k as a 3rd, and $150k as a 4th. How well you perform your job may be more reflected in a bonus than in your salary. If you vastly underperform in comparison to your peers at your level, you may not go up in the lockstep and then you fall behind your peers for salary. Year of call also sets expectations as to what you should be learning and doing at your firm. For example, my firm has guidelines for the types of experiences an associate should be seeking out depending on their year of call. E.g., watch a trial as a junior associate (1-3 year call), involvement in a trial as an intermediate associate (4-5), and second chair a trial as a senior associate (6-7). Critically, your billing rate also goes up every year. So a 1st year call will bill, say, $200 per hour while a 4th year call bills $350. The firm gets to charge more for higher year calls, but then clients also expect them to be more experienced and do their work faster. Clients also expect partners to be distributing work according to complexity and cost - like a simple assignment should go to a 1st year because it will cost less. Also, If you are looking to move laterally from one firm to another, you will typically see job postings advertise for their ideal the ideal years of call they are looking for (1-3, 5+). At your 7th + year of call, that's also when you start to seriously be considered for partnership material and your profitability really matters. So, yeah, while other metrics like the number of clients you have, the significant of your projects, etc., are important, typically your year of call will be the most important measuring stick for a long time.
  11. You can certainly maintain a practice in multiple areas of law, and many lawyers do. But in terms of having done one exclusively and then trying to move to another... depending on the fields of law you are coming from and going to, it can be either easy or more nuanced and complex. For example, switching between civil litigation fields (commercial, estates, personal injury, family, insurance, bankruptcy and insolvency, etc) is done often and is very easy since the basic principles are the same. Switching from solicitor work to litigation or vice versa is more difficult because it's a different set of skills. Or, for example, from criminal law to any other area. It also depends on how junior you are. The more junior you are the easier it is to transition. If you have been called to the bar for 5+ years though and have only ever done criminal law, it will certainly be harder to transition, but mostly in terms of finding a firm that will take you and train you in a new area. Then you'll have to spend a large amount of time re-learning the field and won't be as profitable. One person at my firm is a 10+ year call and recently made a switch from immigration law to commercial litigation. I think they are treating him like a 5 year call, so he's essentially had years of experience erased. It had a steep learning curve but he's doing it.
  12. Also Ptolemy, how is the cost of living in Halifax?
  13. Thanks you two! Yeah cost is definitely an issue... but something I'm willing to absorb. I would love to live in Halifax, but I feel like Queen's has better programs. Arg. Phoenix-Wright: I deliberately didn't apply to any schools in Alberta, actually. I wanted an adventure and wanted to explore the rest of Canada!
  14. Hello everyone, I was hoping people could enlighten me as to the benefits and cons of going to either Queen's or Dalhousie. I have been accepted to both, and am utterly failing in making a decision! My ultimate career goal is criminal, family, or civil law, and I am originally from Alberta and will probably be returning there after graduation. Both schools seem excellent, so I was hoping some actual students could share their brains with me! Thanks so much
  15. Oh you know... record low... my personal statement must have blown their minds... Good luck, too! You will probably be hearing very shortly, since we're within the same range.
  16. I have similar numbers as you, and I was just accepted today. LSAT 161 cGPA 3.5, last 2 years 3.8 Province: AB My resume, however, includes two research publications, various research presentations, having worked for both the Government and the Police, numerous research assistant positions, and excellent references. I think that gave me an edge over my mediocre numbers... but it's possible!
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