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barelylegal

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Everything posted by barelylegal

  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.
  16. The "special sauce" is whatever particular characteristics or experiences the particular firm prioritizes/values. You are highly unlikely to be able to find out what those are, and each firm is unique. All you can do is put together the best application package you can, tailored as much as reasonably possible to the firm to which you're applying. Which is where working with your CDO can be helpful. You're looking for some magic secret that doesn't exist.
  17. What students don't seem to understand is that firms are looking for different things. If every firm defined a "top candidate" the same way, then every firm would be giving interviews and making offers to the exact same people. That doesn't happen. So, there must be some differentiation in what each firm is looking for. Maybe a firm knows they'll likely only be able to hire people into their employment and tax groups, so their "top candidates" are those with some demonstrated interest in those areas - someone could have excellent grades and good experience, but no demonstrated interest in those areas, so they're out. Maybe a firm primarily uses their students for research, and they've found that historically their best students are those with law journal or RA experience, so their "top candidates" are those with law journal or RA experience - someone could have great grades and be stacked with moot and clinic experience, but that's not the kind of experience this firm values for the kind of work their students do, so they're out. Each firm is different, and could be looking for different kinds of experience/grades for different reasons. There's no clear answer to your question.
  18. No, derivative actions are quite common. They're often brought in conjunction with an oppression claim, but they still happen. Why would you limit your routes to a remedy? Say I'm a 50% shareholder of a company, and the other 50% shareholder has been stealing company funds. I may bring an oppression claim, seeking damages amounting to half of the stolen funds (i.e. the stolen funds are the company's funds, to which I have a 50% entitlement). The company would also have a claim, e.g. breach of fiduciary duty, which would need to be pursued through a derivative action. If the other 50% shareholder had assistance from someone in stealing the funds, that derivative action might also include a claim for knowing assistance in breach of fiduciary duty, which could be more difficult to accomplish solely through an oppression claim. Aside from offering another route to remedy, I may get some kind of strategic advantage from being able to add additional parties/claims. Derivative actions come up all the time.
  19. I'm not really sure why these questions are generating so much discussion. The answers are simple. No, there's no such divide in the context of shareholder disputes/derivative actions. No firms specialize in acting for the corporation as opposed to shareholder(s). It is not comparable to the management/labour divide, or the insurance/PI divide. Yes, boutiques have practices including shareholder disputes and derivative actions. It certainly is not limited to large / full-service firms. The scale of the dispute may vary, but all shapes and sizes of companies have shareholder issues, and all manner of firms act in them.
  20. I wouldn't consider that kind of organizational file management to be "above and beyond" - it sounds pretty routine to me, and I'd be concerned if my assistant were consistently dropping those types of tasks. My own practice isn't to have my assistant keep track of deadlines / routine steps, but they do keep track of things like service lists and file contact pages (and update them without my needing to ask whenever a party is added/removed, counsel changes, etc.), which seems like a similar thing.
  21. I second @spicyfoodftw's point - knowing the competition is an important rationale for the question. But there's also more to it. It's useful to know why people who rejected our offers did so, or where people who were very close to getting an offer ended up. If we're a private firm and all of our top candidates reject us for (or otherwise end up in) government or NGO type roles - does that say something about how we're selecting our interviewees, and is our approach causing us to waste our time on candidates who aren't really interested in our kind of environment? If someone picked a firm that's similar to us over us - why did they do that? Was it because of misinformation, an absence of information they viewed as important, something else? All of this helps us know where we stand, and where we might want to change or improve our interview process.
  22. I don't work in government, or in Alberta, but the government hiring process can be really, really slow. Not in the legal context, but last year, a friend of mine interviewed with a provincial agency. They had two or three interviews that seemed to go very well, and then... radio silence. They'd follow up with HR every couple of weeks and get no information. Finally, a few months later, they were able to reach someone more substantively involved in the department, who said "Oh, you were our top candidate we interviewed, we just had a hiring freeze come into effect - as soon as it's lifted, we're making you an offer. Didn't anyone tell you that?" They got the job a couple of months later. All that to say - I'm sure it's frustrating for you, but you may still be very much in the running. Events out of your control can sometimes intervene and hold up the process.
  23. It depends on the firm. Some of the boutique litigation firms match the national firm rates, others are slightly lower, others are much lower. There are a few different grids floating around.
  24. There's no one right way to do this, and the options available to you might depend on your relationship with the professor. If you have a good relationship with her, why not just talk to her about it? You can ask outright for an introduction, or leave it open for her to offer. I'd say something like this: "I've been looking for an articling position. I'm interested in [area of law] and am drawn to [firm]. I know that you've worked with that firm previously on pro bono work. Would you be able to make an introduction to one of your contacts at the firm for me? / Do you have any advice for me for approaching the firm about a possible articling position [if you want to leave the door open for her to offer]?" I don't know what the culture is like among professors, but in practice, if a student has an informational meeting with me as part of their articling/associate search and I like them, I'm immediately running through people I might know at relevant firms that I can introduce them to. If someone asked me for advice about reaching out to X firm, my first thought would be who I know that might be a good contact point. It's quite common, and you might have similar results if you have a good relationship with your professor. Sure, you could just ask if you could use her name when reaching out, but I'd think the firm is much more likely to respond if they see a familiar name as the sender/caller. You might also get some vouching from it if she likes your work.
  25. I think this really depends on what kind of law firm / practice area you want, how long you're willing to wait, and how much work you're willing to put in. I know of someone who's Canadian and went to law school in the UK following high school. On return to Canada, they felt they weren't quite mature/prepared enough to enter the legal workforce in any competitive way. So, they worked as a legal assistant for a couple of years, eventually transitioned into a law clerk role, and made legal connections in their area of interest. They ultimately did an LLM and studied for and wrote NCA exams (while working), then participated in the articling recruit and landed somewhere great. I have no idea if this is a common or preferred route, or what other options there might be. But this is just one example of the time and work someone in your shoes put in to get where they wanted to be.
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