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darkangel45422

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  1. Sure. As an articling student I think I made in the neighborhood of $55k gross, and then as a duty counsel I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of $80k gross (a little less when I started, a touch over now). I was a 2.5 year call when it all got paid off. I pay approximately half of my take home pay to my debts each month - typically that was around $2000 a month or so for the first year or two, it was $2500-$3000 a month the last year or so. I also put any income tax returns I had towards it and basically every other cent I got (no windfalls, but maybe I got $100 for a birthday gift, etc.). I always lived alone with no roommates but I didn't have a car, I'd walk or take public transit to work. I don't have a family (just a cat!) or a mortgage as I rent because I've bounced around cities a bit finding work. I also don't have expensive hobbies - I largely read, watch Netflix/Amazon Prime, and do yoga, all of which are free except the monthly yoga membership. I did take, I think, 2 vacations during my debt repayments years, and moved 3 times after law school so I also had to pay for that (moved cities too, not intercity moves). Frankly I view it as a matter of priorities. I live somewhat frugally in terms of big expenses - no car, no mortgage, not a ton of vacations, no expensive hobbies, I don't tend to eat out a lot or go to bars, etc. I've always been pretty frugal with my money and hate being in debt so getting out of debt is basically my biggest financial priority right now.
  2. I paid 100% of law school myself (loans, some financial aid, etc. - no family support), 100% intended on going into criminal law when I went into law school, and came out of it with over $100k in debt and went into duty counsel work. I don't regret it at all - I loved my years at U of T, in fact stayed an extra year to do a Criminal LLM. I also paid off all of my debt before I was a 3rd year call - again, working as a duty counsel in Ontario. I was actually even unemployed for a few months between articling and getting my first job. 100% of the debt repayment was from salary - no inheritances, windfalls, etc. You can 100% survive with a lot of debt and pay it off easily with even a low paying law job if you make the choice to prioritize that.
  3. Not a Crown, but I'm a duty counsel and therefore have some similar experiences with regards to high daily case load and being in a position where prep time is minimal if not non-existent (plus I work closely with Crowns in our courthouse every day so I get some of their input/experiences too). It's nerve wracking as new lawyers to be in a position where we can't prepare as thoroughly as we'd like for a new experience. My natural instinct is to prepare-prepare-prepare - like, fully written scripts, all the case law read and noted up, etc. Is this realistic or even vaguely possible in our line of work? Not in the least. The very first bail hearing I ran was one I was running with no more senior counsel to even ask questions of, and where I hadn't seen a bail hearing in over a year. I had about 15 minutes of prep time between when it was decided that we were doing a hearing and when the JP insisted we start the dang thing. I wrote my submissions points during the hearing itself. It was nerve wracking as heck and not at all an ideal situation. But you know what? Every bail hearing I've done since has been similar in terms of lack of time to prepare, fore notice, etc. One of the most important things you can learn is not just the law and legal rules themselves, but how to do get comfortable thinking on your feet and working off of minimal preparation (at least when you're in a role like Crown where prep time is always going to be somewhat minimal). It's now quite common for me to run bail hearings, pleas, etc. off of a quick read through of the synopsis, record and a glance through any statements, and maybe a 5-10 minute conversation with the accused. I've figured out what questions I need to ask, what information I need to know, to be prepared in the vast majority of cases. Now of course take all this with the grain of salt that each case is individual - some cases NEED more time for you to be even remotely competent, because there's something unusual or complex or just off about it. In those cases, don't just 'wing it' - insist that more time is necessary. But knowing the difference between what you need to know and what's just a matter of making yourself comfortable is an important skill - how much preparation is actually necessary, and how much is just because it makes you FEEL less anxious about doing something? I think you'll start to feel more comfortable doing things on your feet the more you do it - I know barely even think about doing things on the fly like that, while my new articling student for example is still freaked out if she's not given an hour to write up full submissions for a simple 10 minute plea lol. It's all a matter of practice and learning to be comfortable. You're still new and figuring things out, but you'll get there.
  4. Walking into cells as an articling student in my first week in bail court to speak to a newly arrested accused person and having the accused tell me "Oh it's alright, I'm not worried - I own the courthouse and I pay all your salaries so I can walk out of here at any moment, I'm just chilling for now." Law school DEFINITELY did not prepare me for trying to get instructions out of a guy who suffers delusions that he pays my salary lol. Also definitely the threats of physical violence. Nothing quite prepares you for clients vividly detailing how they plan to kill you if you don't get them bail/out of a jail sentence/adjourned back to the jail THIS INSTANT so they can make pizza night. -sigh-
  5. I think the difficulty with the Senior Counsel program as it exists is that they typically take on extremely difficult clients. They aren't referred just clients who are financially eligible but not legally eligible - there must typically also be factors of vulnerability, most commonly mental health issues, and typically mental health issues of a pronounced nature. These types of clients and cases are infinitely more complex and time consuming than the average case, which likely contributes to why Senior Counsel seem less cost effective than a certificate. Of course the other problem that none of this addresses is that LAO's financial criteria is laughably low. There's a huge swath of the population who aren't getting access to justice purely because they make over LAO's threshold yet no where near enough to afford private counsel.
  6. I actually think this has a lot of potential and should honestly be explored. At least in Ontario, we stay away from the public defender model on an idea that the client should be able to use the lawyer of choice. And I see the benefits of this, but honestly - there's very little meaning to the 'lawyer of choice' because most legal aid clients are just picking a name off of a list. And I've rarely if ever seen a client who doesn't qualify for a certificate and who instead gets duty counsel help complain that the duty counsel who assists them isn't their lawyer of choice - they're all just happy to have a lawyer.
  7. I've never personally seen my age affect anything but I do have a friend who had a client fire her the first time she showed up in bail court to do a bail hearing because she was a new call and he didn't want his hearing to be done by a 'baby lawyer'. But again, I think that had less to do with age and more to do with the fact that she was like a month into practice and it was her first bail hearing.
  8. I don't think it's particularly common, though like in all fields there are the bad apples like this jerk face. It's not your fault in any way shape or form, and I sincerely hope that it doesn't deter you from continuing to pursue any avenues that are of interest to you. His bad behavior is not a reflection on you whatsoever.
  9. What do you have your alerts set to out of curiosity?
  10. Typically yes there's a place to change, but it's more of an open room from my recollection than private change space - most of the women in my Call came in wearing their bottoms and just changed into the Gown shirt in the change room.
  11. I was just wondering what resources everyone uses to try and keep up on changes to the law - new statutes making their way through the legislature, new cases, etc. I feel like there's so much to keep up on, and that there must be resources out there so that you have sort of a one-stop place to go to catch up on what's new. I already subscribe to Supreme Advocacy to keep up on the SCC's comings and goings but how do people keep up with new laws that are being debated or coming into force, and caselaw in their relevant fields? For reference, I practice primarily criminal law, but am totally open to more general suggestions too so that others can see the resources that exist.
  12. Mostly, as others have said, it comes down to the distinction in their names - the difference between agreeing to facts, and not disputing some facts. Which you'll use will depend on the area of law and type of court/tribunal you're before and your client's situation.
  13. I don't recall there being questions with no answers in the materials - that doesn't mean you always are able to find the answer while flipping through. I personally just used the table of contents that came with the materials because I preferred to read all the materials while I studied rather than make or use an indice. I found the table of contents detailed enough along with my memory from reading the material to find just about any answer I looked up.
  14. I'd do more practice exams, and if there's time, re-read PR materials, but only if you're very confident you will have enough time after the Barristers to be fully prepared for the Solicitors - otherwise I'd use the extra time to study the Solicitors material. I personally found I didn't leave enough time to study the Solicitors materials, but also didn't like studying it right before the Barristers exam happened because then I have mixed information in my head.
  15. I'm currently a Legal Aid lawyer and I can echo artsydork that your connection to our client group is likely going to be what Legal Aid is suspicious of more than anything - in every interview I've done it's been almost as much of a focus as the actual law. Experience is great and often necessary due to the wide variety of things we're expected to do with no prep time, but in a lot of jurisdictions we hire new calls - it really depends on who else is applying, how badly they need a body to fill the position, and what the rest of the team in that location looks like - if you have other experienced lawyers who can mentor, you can often afford a baby lawyer because you can give them more training, etc.
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