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barelylegal

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barelylegal last won the day on August 18 2018

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  1. This is not true. First, as noted above, people hired due to connections are rarely substantially deficient in other aspects of the package. If there are two people competing for one job, one has great grades / CV / personality and a connection, and the other has great grades / CV / personality and no connection... how is it that hiring the one with the connection has shut out someone "arguably more qualified"? It could very well be that the two candidates are equally qualified - one just comes with the added bonus of making a client or referral source happy. I don't know what happens at firms other than my own, but I'd be surprised if it was common practice for firms to hire people based solely on connections, if everything else about them indicated a lack of qualification. Second, people hired/interviewed who have connections aren't necessarily hired because of the fact of the connection. If someone gets referred to us in the articling recruit through a connection, that connection may be, for example, a partner at a different law firm where the student summered, whose work/reputation we know and respect. We don't necessarily like that student simply because they have a connection - we like that person because X lawyer is a real hardass with high expectations and nitpicky preferences and difficult work, and this student managed to do well enough to impress that lawyer and get a glowing recommendation. That speaks well to the student's abilities and qualifications. Yes, it came through a connection, but it's not like that connection was a substitute for qualification. Third, connections are treated differently by different firms. At my firm, if someone comes to us in the articling recruit through a connection, that gets them an interview - it's a foot in the door. They have to take it from there and get hired on their own merits - they won't get hired if they don't stack up to the competition. And even with that, it's not necessarily a zero-sum game. If we were planning to interview 40 people, and then someone came in through a connection and it's a person we may not have otherwise offered an interview to based on their application package, we might open up a 41st interview spot; it doesn't necessarily mean someone who otherwise would have gotten an interview will be deprived of one. Beyond the first interview stage, the connection might only become relevant again if we have two truly identical students that we need to choose between (for hiring, ranking, or anything else) and need a tie-breaker - at which point there's no issue of unequal qualification. Fourth, in any event, these issues tend to come up in the student hiring context specifically... at which point there's little way to know whether someone is actually qualified, and there's relatively little risk to the firm of passing up a hidden gem by hiring someone who only has a connection going for them. Someone can look great on paper, excellent grades and extracurriculars, but be unable to master the practical aspects of the job, or be unable to cope with rigorous hours, and flame out. Likewise, someone can have bad grades, awkward personality, little extracurricular involvement... but be a hard worker, adapt to the new situation, and ultimately excel as a lawyer. Biglaw firms hire large student classes in part to manage this risk - their student group might be a mixed bag, and larger quantity increases the likelihood of finding the best lawyers for them. You simply can't know at this early stage whether a connections-based hire is more or less qualified for the job than someone else, or whether you've opted not to hire someone who would have turned out to be more qualified. Obviously, these types of scenarios aren't always the case and can vary a lot by person and firm, and nepotism of course exists to some extent. But just realize that it's a more complicated issue than students tend to think, and it may not have the impact assumed.
  2. I had this mindset when I started out - if I wasn't at work, but there was outstanding work to be done, I felt like I should be doing it and had this overhanging guilt during off time. For me, it went away with experience. As a junior, it felt like any work I had was somewhat urgent, should be delivered as quickly as possible, to make a good impression with the partner/client/whomever. Over time, I naturally learned what is and isn't high priority, what needs to be done now vs. what can wait, typical turnaround times for different aspects of a file, etc. With that knowledge, it became easier to just go home at a normal time instead of working late to do work that didn't need to be done that night, take breaks, and enjoy the off time.
  3. I'm several years out of law school, but can provide some insight: 1) First off, the "overall feel of campus" can be very different from the feel of the law school. The law school is quite contained, and you can go through your three years having very little interaction with the rest of the school. In any event, it's pretty varied. People come from a variety of backgrounds, some more elite than others. The school is large enough that you can find your people. As someone not from an "elite" upbringing, I didn't feel like an outsider - sure, there were some friend groups that I wouldn't have clicked with, for various reasons (wealth, and resulting behaviour, being one), but it didn't matter because I found people that I did click with. 2) A "smoker" is basically a weekly law student bar night. 3) My understanding of "study where you plan to practice" is that it's usually referring to province, rather than city. You will probably be fine getting work in Toronto or Ottawa from any school in Ontario. From Kingston, it's quite easy to get to Toronto or Ottawa for networking/interviews - people are always driving there for weekends, and there are buses and trains. Plus, practitioners from those cities may come to Queen's for talks/lectures/courses, and there are externship opportunities (at least, there were when I attended). Tons of Queen's grads work in Toronto and Ottawa. Vancouver would likely be more difficult, largely because you'd need to fly to get there, but a good number of Queen's grads have made it there. 4) At my firm, Queen's and Ottawa would probably be seen comparably, reputation-wise. But I can't speak for others. Both are good schools.
  4. A couple of boutiques aren't up there, but for large/full-service firms, I believe that's the general range.
  5. It really depends on the firm. At a large, full-service firm, they probably have a general "litigation" department - though individual lawyers may have their own specialties within industries or types of litigation (e.g. class actions or securities litigation, or the technology or oil/gas or transportation sectors). At a large litigation boutique, you might have more structured practice areas by type of litigation (e.g. commercial litigation, insurance defence). Then you may have more specialized litigation boutiques (e.g. a securities litigation firm, or an insurance defence firm).
  6. How was/is your relationship with your family law professor? If it's positive, given your level of engagement - perhaps that professor could write you a reference letter for the articling recruit? At my firm, a C-range grade would certainly be noticed on a transcript (though unlikely to be considered a negative in isolation), but I occasionally interview students whose application packages include a reference letter from a prof to the effect that the student was engaged in the course, had thoughtful and critical insights during class discussions, and shows a lot of potential, and the ultimate mark in the course is not a true reflection of their abilities for one reason or another. Can't speak for anyone else, at my firm or otherwise, but I find those types of letters to be fairly compelling.
  7. My understanding/experience is: This can vary quite substantially by firm, and also can vary by whether the firm offers non-equity partnership. Are you asking about equity or non-equity partnership? I.e. do you care about owning part of the firm, or are you also interested in just the prestige of the title? I've very rarely come across very senior associates - the end game, as far as a firm is concerned, is partnership. If you've been around for a long time and don't seem like a viable option for partnership, it's more likely that you'd be pushed (or "gently suggested") out, unless the firm offers some kind of counsel or other non-partnership track option through which you could continue adding value. So your question is framed a bit oddly - if an associate doesn't choose to leave biglaw, then in most cases, they will (a) become partner, (b) move into a non-partnership track position, or (c) leave the firm. It's not like the U.S. where people can stay associates forever, and partnership is relatively less common. This one I can't answer, as I'm not a partner and don't have access to that kind of compensation information. I expect your question won't produce meaningful responses unless you specify particular practice areas, though.
  8. I think the comments above about still needing to be accountable for your billables/hours/targets, and managing flexibility with priorities, are really important. The flexibility you can have in private practice is not at the expense of your targets. My fairly flexible approach to the workday means I likely have fewer billable hours on an average weekday than others - but I still have targets and workload, so I'm more likely to work some time on weekends as a trade-off. That's consistent with my priorities at the moment, but I might think differently if I had a family I wanted to be able to spend weekends / nights with - in which case I may be less likely to take breaks or do errands during a weekday. Ultimately, my version of flexibility helps me manage work-week stress, and I can live with having to do a few extra work hours on a weekend to get that, but to each their own.
  9. Flexibility is definitely a large benefit, as far as I'm concerned. It takes a lot of forms for me. I can work from home pretty much whenever I want, subject to meetings/attendances. If I suddenly have a day clear in my calendar and no impending deadlines, I can just take the day off, on no notice and without needing to account to anyone. If I'm working on a factum and hit a roadblock or a tired spell, I might just leave the office at 3 or 4 to go to the gym, then keep working from home - or I might do the same if I have errands to run and the stores close early. I can meet friends for coffee or lunch whenever I want, and those lunches might spontaneously turn into two-hour catch-ups if my workload/deadlines permit. If I have a big evening event of some sort, I might work late or early in the days leading up to it to make sure I get things done, and then just take a half-day on the day of the event. I take full advantage of this kind of flexibility, and find it helps my stress levels. There are really countless ways you can take advantage of the flexibility. Note, though, that the amount of flexibility you get will vary by type of job. I'm a senior associate at a large Toronto boutique. Those working for government or quasi-government employers or in-house positions, for example, might not have quite the same nature or amount of flexibility.
  10. Completely agree with the comments made by @jlw2 and @ItsJasper. My general philosophy with most out-of-work plans is to make them, but be prepared to break them. I always, always make sure I have my schedule in order to attend very important plans (e.g. family or friend birthdays, holiday celebrations), but otherwise, while I do everything I can to make plans, I make clear that I may need to check in closer to the time to confirm re: work, and don't feel bad if I have to cancel/reschedule. Same goes for my weekly activity - it's something that I always try to go to, but if I can't make it, everyone understands (and the activity is with mostly other lawyers, so same rules go for everyone). Ultimately, out-of-work plans are supposed to be a way to relieve stress from work. If they become obligations, such that you stress about missing them because your absence is meaningful and they create real conflicts with work obligations, then what's the point? If you're going to schedule an activity or other plan, then it should be something that's fun and flexible and isn't at risk of becoming an additional source of stress.
  11. I'm at a large Toronto boutique and a senior associate now, but I have a weekly activity with law school friends that I've been doing since I was a first year associate. It requires me to leave the office at 6 on a particular day each week. My firm has no issue with it - they think it's great, and my whole practice group knows I leave by 6 that day. Sure, if I'm in a hearing or have a massive or urgent deadline or important firm event, I may have to miss it occasionally, but for the most part I keep it up every week. It's all about how you manage your work and schedule (my constant advice to new lawyers is to sort out your time management skills - being able to prioritize and slot tasks into your week to ensure you have time for everything, work or otherwise, is so, so helpful).
  12. Are you talking about drafting court documents like pleadings, notices of motion, etc.? If so, note that all of those documents are standard court forms and are available online at http://ontariocourtforms.on.ca/en/rules-of-civil-procedure-forms/. Those are usually a good guideline for how things should look. In the Statement of Claim, for example, you'll see that the "boilerplate" language at the beginning is single-spaced.
  13. You can describe the general nature of a case, steps that were taken, your role, the results. None of that should be identifying enough to breach confidentiality obligations. Avoid names, dates, anything too specific or identifying. And yes, you can expect to be asked about your experience, so you should keep this in mind.
  14. Interpreting this as the things I get to spend money on that I wouldn't if I didn't have my job/salary, and that help make the hours and stress feel worthwhile: 1. Buying relatively fancy cheese without thought - whether that's buying the truffle gouda I happened to sample at St. Lawrence Market, or paying the extra couple of dollars for pre-shredded mozzarella at Loblaws. 2. Seeing that a Friday and Monday in my upcoming calendar are suddenly and unexpectedly open, and booking a long weekend getaway on a week's notice. 3. Keeping a healthy stock of my favourite face masks that are a bit more expensive, but have the most luxurious-feeling serum and the most relaxing lavender scent...
  15. I see sentences like that all the time and it makes me want to scream. Whenever I'm asked to review/edit a document like that, I will insert a comma into every single appropriate spot. I'm sure my track changes get eye rolls, but no one ever undoes it. ETA: My personal theory is that this results from people dictating documents, and their assistants trying to type the document quickly and not adding commas. Which is legitimate, they have a ton of work to get through. I'm still fixing it though.
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