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delije89

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  1. Hicks Morley pays Toronto rates across all of their offices, including Ottawa, whereas most other regional and national firms will adjust rates (and therefore compensation) based on the geographic area. As such, an associate in Ottawa could earn $30,000 less, for instance, than their counterpart with the same year of call in Toronto. Hicks does not "discriminate" based on the office's location and so all associates are being paid the same amount, which is probably a downside if you are working in Toronto (and a significant upside if you are working in Ottawa). The billable hours target at Hicks is 1,600 but that is practically considered the strict minimum. Last I heard, a 5th year associate at Hicks was being paid around $175,000, but this is anecdotal.
  2. I did not insinuate that all of the "many firms" are national firms, although mine certainly is. I will not be naming and shaming the firm on a public forum, but check your PM.
  3. Not every national firm has a lockstep system throughout. Some (such as the firm where I work) only use lockstep for the first two years, and then it's all discretionary raises. This year, that same firm handed out what is essentially a cost of living allowance (2% increase) to all of its associates except those who have exceeded their billable hours target (and even then, I am not entirely sure if all of them have received the usual raise). Some associates have received no raise at all. By all accounts the firm fell short of its original pre-pandemic budget by 1%. The firm has not gone "gangbusters" but it was certainly busy and these 2% raises have resulted in extreme dissatisfaction at the associate level. Now the firm is dishing out a 10% "special bonus" in May (for all associates) and another 10% bonus in December (for those who are on track to hit their target), but the exodus of associates (me included) has already started.
  4. Many firms opted to cheap out during the annual compensation review. Instead of the usual annual raises, some firms provided cost of living increases (e.g. 2%) to their associates, even those who were dangerously closed to hitting their billable hours target. Now those same firms are dishing out retention bonuses to retain their associates. Too little too late, in some cases. What has really frustrated associates is that some of these firms either exceeded or fell just below their original budgets for 2020.
  5. I am a 2014 Ontario call. I articled at a small firm and then worked there for another 8 months post-articling. I hated the experience and decided I would step away from the traditional practice of law for a bit. I joined an insurance company as a claims professional instead, and worked there for a few years. During that time I built an extensive network with a number of lawyers from various firms. I will be joining a large national firm as an associate at the end next month. I went from a small firm to an claims position (non-practicing) to a large firm. It is not an easy path, but it is possible. I can let you know how that goes for me after I join the firm in question.
  6. I would suggest you look into a career as a claims professional where your skills and abilities will be highly valuable. It is very much "law-adjacent" as you would call it, particularly if you deal with professional liability claims (e.g. claims against directors and officers). You would be providing instructions to defence counsel, and you would still be attending mediation and settlement conferences, albeit as a client. It's a career that provides much more of a work-life balance, and one where you won't feel like you've wasted your time and money going to law school.
  7. Where are you located? You should start looking for articling opportunities in smaller markets, where there won't be as many applicants. The important thing is to get a position, and complete the articles in 10 months. Once that is done, your grades becomes less and less relevant, as time goes on.
  8. The work is different depending on what kind of insurance we are talking about. For instance, if you work in automobile insurance, I would presume the work is fairly redundant. However, I work for one of the largest insurance companies in Canada and one of our products is D&O (Directors and Officers) liability insurance. These policies cover almost every single aspect of a corporation's operations. The files can therefore range from small condo disputes, to employment or human rights matters, to large securities class actions worth tens of millions of dollars which, of course, would allow you to get tremendous litigation experience. Then, there is another aspect of insurance law, which falls outside the scope of defense, and concentrates on the content of insurance policies. Sometimes, an insurer may request help in interpreting its policy wordings, or may ask for a coverage position, or there can be coverage disputes between the parties.
  9. Not a small firm by any means. Sure, they only have a few lawyers in their Ottawa office but overall it's much closer to 45-50.
  10. I articled at a small firm in rural Ontario where the annual income was $30,000 (prorated to 10 months) and $40,000 after becoming licensed. Some colleagues who had up to 10 years experience still earned less than $60,000 per annum. In addition, there were no bonuses whatsoever, just a fixed salary no matter how hard we worked, and worst of all, no employee benefits. While the firm did cover LSUC fees and LawPRO premiums, it did not pay for licensing examination fees and refused to cover some rather trivial expenses such as the notary public application fee and the seal as these were considered to be personal expenses. Needless to say, I was looking to get out of there as soon as possible. I worked there for approximately six months post-articling and was finally able to land an infinitely better position a few months ago. I know certain rural area firms offer better terms and conditions for their employees but, generally speaking, the overall picture does not look good. There is an increasing problem in that the current legal professionals working in these areas are getting older and have no successors so we have to wonder how these firms will attract lawyers in the future. More often than not, young lawyers who work there see them as merely transit stations towards better opportunities, with no real intention to remain employed there given the low wages and sometimes traumatizing experiences which you can read on this discussion board. Some larger urban firms are opening satellite offices in smaller towns and villages where administration staff is present at all times but where lawyers travel from their homes once or twice a week to meet clients and such. I'm not sure that is a viable solution.
  11. While I know several people who struggled to find an articling position, myself included, I don't know anyone who actually went on to article for free. I know someone who never found articling and, rather than article for free, simply found work with the federal government and still works there. I did not have an articling position until a couple of weeks after I wrote my last exam in 3L. I was panicking, but I was still not at the stage where I would accept to article for free. Had I not landed that position, I still would have continued applying until I found a remunerated position and if no such position was to come, I intended to wait for the next articling recruitment cycle.
  12. Coincidentally, I spoke with a LSUC representative on the phone this afternoon as I had a similar question and I was told that the receipts have been mailed out and that we should be expecting them this week. I had written an exam in November 2013 and the other in March 2014, so this receipt should include the licensing examination fees as well as the articling program fees. I agree that it makes no sense to lock us out of our licensing process account. Instead, they should upgrade that account after the Call to the Bar and allow for those outstanding documents to be sent to our LSUC portal.
  13. Unless I am mistaken, Borden Ladner Gervais starts at around $75,000 for a first-year associate. I doubt some other firm offers more than that.
  14. While I know that OP's experience is not the norm, I can affirm that I have had a very similar experience during my time as an articling student. OP, perhaps it will feel good to know you are not alone. I did not change firms, so all of the misery took place at the same firm until I left after working there for another 5 months post-articling. It can definitely kill your confidence as well as the drive you had when you first enrolled into law school. It's a shame that people and firms like that exist but, as someone explained earlier, there is no realistic possibility to bring a complaint against them. I would strongly suggest that you start looking for employment outside the legal field, but find a place where your skills and critical thinking are still a valuable asset. I can assure you, your degree holds high value on the job market. Whatever you decide, don't settle for being a mechanic after so much work. On a positive note, your terrible experiences from the past will always be a good life lesson and I'm sure it has helped you to develop a thick skin. Just like in my case, it's highly unlikely you will ever have a boss that is worst than what you've already had.
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