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Everything posted by EMP

  1. First, I'll talk about my own experience. Yes, I find being a lawyer so far to be rewarding. I am a criminal defence lawyer and a recent call. I think it is essential to ensure the state is held to its burden of proof, and that individual rights are upheld. Those concepts mean a lot to me, and upholding them is an honour. I also volunteer in my community and did so before I entered law. Drawing on my legal education, I became involved in advocacy for police accountability in ways that would be impossible without a law degree and I made a significant impact on the issue in my community. I am also now involved with legal organizations at the provincial and national level advocating for systemic change in the profession and my practice area. But I did not graduate with law school debt because I come from a place of socio-economic privilege. And there have been incredibly difficult times on the journey to becoming a lawyer. I also did not became a lawyer so people would think highly of me. I was somewhat wisened with life experience before entering law school. I saw law as a tool to make an impact with skills I had rather than a shiny gloss to impress others or an answer to "Who am I?". Also, I have what's fair to describe as a unicorn-like position for a young criminal defence associate in terms of salary/work-life balance, and that is in part due to high academic performance. Second, I'll provide my two cents to you. I think it is possible to have the career in law you want, i.e. financially secure, helping others, and advocating for systemic change. But the path may not be straightforward, a chunk of the 'doing good' work is likely to be on top of your daily job responsibilities, and you have to be comfortable with moral complexity. For me, defending someone charged with first degree murder who I personally believe did it is something I am fine with, because I know my role in the system and why it matters. Others may not be comfortable with that. Other fields of law I'm sure have similar challenges. All that said, do I think law is the only path to achieve what you've described? Absolutely not. I would reflect carefully about your skills, interests, networks, and so forth, before deciding whether a JD is the right path to achieve what you want. Reach out and speak to people who you look up to (lawyers and non-lawyers alike) to learn more about their career paths. And I'd be happy to chat with you more, should that be helpful.
  2. I suggest eating the bar materials the morning of the exam to fully absorb the information.
  3. I think $60-$90k is the range in Toronto for new calls at reputable shops. But there are definitely lower salaries than that. The $80-90k band is occupied by higher end boutiques (Henein, Addario, etc.).
  4. I am a first-year associate at a firm where my senior is the only other lawyer. I counter-offered 20% above the initial offer, respectfully and with reference to factors/anonymized comparators from other firms. I also emphasized I was committed to working there and willing to negotiate further in good faith. Ultimately we settled at a number 8% above the initial offer. Asking for higher than I would settle for helped, and the fact I came down a significant amount from my counter helped too. Throughout I made it clear I wanted to be at this firm and wanted to make the number work.
  5. In addition to the excellent advice in the preceding post, you're also going to face an uphill climb because you're NCA (unless you're a ~T20 US or Oxbridge). Cold applications are likely to bear little fruit. I would identify the top three areas you want to practice in and do as follows, in no particular order. The key to this game is to hustle like no tomorrow. - Identify which organizations in the city serve this area of law. Is there an OBA section? Another group? Begin attending events put on by the organization, both socials and substantive. Talk to people and when it's right, explain you're looking for an articling position. - Link up with the NCA network (http://www.ncanetwork.com). Attend their events and ask them to connect you with a mentor. - Identify anybody and everybody in your own social circle who is a lawyer or knows a lawyer, ideally but not exclusively in your practice area interests. Meet with them and ask them to introduce you to others. - Contact the LPP program. They likely deal with a lot of NCA candidates and the difficulties/solutions to locating positions for them. Ask for any advice they can provide. - Are you a member of any minority group? If so, join the local bar org and ask for a mentor there too. Attend their events. - Identify folks, including with an NCA background, in areas of practice you're interested in. Meet them for informal mentorship coffees. Don't lead with your request for an articling position somewhere, ask for info about their area of practice etc., but if you connect, consider asking. Of course while doing all this, the better and more focused your own pitch is, the likelier the chance of someone being interested in offering or connecting you with an articling spot. Those are some ideas. You need to get out there and make your own luck/opportunities. Don't just rely on job postings.
  6. I have some specific relevant experience. PM me if you'd like to chat.
  7. I don’t doubt it’s a decent place to be in the circumstances. I was just trying to clarify whether the OP was going to be working as a provincial prosecutor or an ACA, since some answers were more directed with the assumption of an ACA position. The context is definitely different in terms of answering OP’s question. Also at least in Ontario, would be surprising for an ACA external hire to have OP’s background, not as surprising if it’s the provincial prosecutor’s office.
  8. You mentioned that you’re starting in traffic court. Is this a Crown position prosecuting offences under the Criminal Code, or a provincial prosecutions office (e.g. HTA in Ontario etc.)? If the latter, that is not considered being an Assistant Crown Attorney FYI.
  9. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/authors/244030/rupert-ross "RUPERT ROSS is a retired assistant Crown Attorney for the District of Kenora, Ontario. Starting in 1985, he conducted criminal prosecutions for more than twenty remote Ojibway and Cree First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario. His first book, Dancing with a Ghost, started his exploration of aboriginal visions of existence and became a bestseller. His second book, Returning to the Teachings, was also a bestseller and examined the aboriginal preference for the “peacemaker justice” he observed during a three-year secondment with Justice Canada. Both books were shortlisted for the Gordon Montour Award for the best Canadian non-fiction book on social issues, and are presently used in universities and colleges across North America. Following his retirement, Ross was awarded the prestigious 2011 National Prosecution Award for Humanitarianism, and the Ontario Crown Attorneys Association has created an award named after him." https://uofrpress.ca/Books/F/Firewater "Drawing on his years of experience as a Crown Prosecutor in Treaty 6 territory, Harold Johnson challenges readers to change the story we tell ourselves about the drink that goes by many names—booze, hooch, spirits, sauce, and the evocative “firewater.” Confronting the harmful stereotype of the “lazy, drunken Indian,” and rejecting medical, social, and psychological explanations of the roots of alcoholism, Johnson cries out for solutions, not diagnoses, and shows how alcohol continues to kill so many. Provocative, irreverent, and keenly aware of the power of stories, Firewater calls for people to make decisions about their communities and their lives on their own terms." http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/ps/publications/attorney_general_prosecution_function.htm "Since the 1980s, our understanding of the role of the Attorney General in the administration of criminal justice has evolved dramatically. The independence of this role has been eroded by the fact that courts and law societies have taken a more active role in scrutinizing the decisions of Attorneys General, and the public has demanded greater transparency and accountability. What has emerged is an expectation that the office of the Attorney General be protected from improper political influences and that prosecutions be conducted in accordance with fairness and respect for the law. The author argues that while the most important factor in the impartial administration of justice may be the personal character and integrity of the Attorney General, our system of checks and balances also protects the prosecutorial functions. This system involves four separate safeguards: constitutional conventions, institutional safeguards, and the roles of the law societies and the courts in supervising prosecutorial functions. Despite these safeguards, the author argues that there remain concerns regarding the proper role of the Attorney General, including the Attorney General acting as counsel, the publication of prosecutorial guidelines, the practice of giving reasons of decisions regarding whether to proceed with a prosecution and the practical costs of increased judicial scrutiny of prosecutorial functions. Finally, the author comments on the continued mistreatment of people detained before trial — that is, people who have possibly been denied certain Charter rights, and he argues that the Attorney General needs to take leadership over this issue." https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2050574 "Attorney Generals and Crown prosecutors are endowed with a constitutionally protected role and the quasi-judicial responsibility of handling criminal prosecutions on behalf of the Crown. This includes deciding whether to bring the prosecution of a charge laid by the police, to enter a stay of proceedings, to accept a guilty plea to lesser charge, and to withdraw criminal proceedings in accordance with what the public interest dictates. While the vast majority of prosecutors are careful to separate their function from that of the police, occasionally police advocacy and the high level of police commitment can lead to accepting police information without appropriate confirmation and turning to the police for guidance in the exercise of prosecutorial functions. This article argues that recent examples of significant partisan advocacy by prosecutors warrant re-considering the limits of Crown independence from the police and re-evaluating the current effectiveness of institutional accountability in Ontario." https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/goudge/policy_research/pdf/Macfarlane_Wrongful-Convictions.pdf "In this paper, I will discuss two critical factors that have arisen in all jurisdictions: First, the existence of environmental factors or “predisposing circumstances” that foster wrongful convictions to occur in the first place, including so called “noble cause corruption,” an ends-based police and prosecutorial culture that masks misconduct as legitimate on the basis that the guilty must be brought successfully to justice. Second, I will examine “tunnel vision,” which leads justice system participants to focus prematurely on a single suspect. At the end of the paper, I will discuss lessons learned in the criminal justice system, and how they may apply to the field of forensic pathology in society’s quest to eliminate the spectre of convicting the innocent."
  10. So an articling student should never complain about their work, ever? Even where that workplace is abusive or patently unreasonable (>100 hours/week)? Top-flight logic.
  11. That’s all well and good, but when you’re taking on 100K in debt and strong law school grades are critical to securing a job (or at least make the path much smoother), mastering exams being one of the top things on one’s mind makes sense. The system needs to change, but students should be going into the system with eyes wide open about what it actually values and how to achieve that (unless there is a trust fund and law school can just be about learning for the sake of it).
  12. I don't think the methods it suggests are the be all and end all. However, focusing on the final exam from the outset and thinking about the 'right' way to read cases (i.e. what is the legal test that will ultimately be applicable to a fact pattern) are decent points. Knowing how to effectively structure an exam answer is something a lot of profs gloss over, even though they often expect a particular format.
  13. First, professional dress does not have to mean a suit. Second, not being able to wear a particular item of clothing in a profession where it is clearly not a bona fide occupational requirement means that your employer must offer your accommodation. Third, I have seen lawyers from novice to senior not wear a suit in court. Where the dress is otherwise reasonably appropriate, nobody has raised a fuss. Accommodations are readily made where robing is required, e.g. pregnant lawyers not having to wear waistcoats at SCJ/ONCA.
  14. You should probably ask the office where you were hired.
  15. Those are just their offices for court days I think. Their actual offices are in the adjoining office building and freshly renovated.
  16. I think one thing you are overlooking are the intellectual challenges that emerge from the different roles that the Crown has to simultaneously discharge. I think that one of the most fascinating components of Crown work, trial and appellate, is determining how to discharge the concurrent advocate and Minister of Justice roles. There’s also a lot of room for development in that area. It can also be interesting to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders — the police, complainant, accused, public, etc. As the Crown, you have a unique relationship with all of these parties, each with different interests. And an obligation to do right by them beyond a singular focus on conviction. On appeals, one intellectually challenging aspect is even the decision to launch a Crown appeal, which is much rarer than a defence appeal and therefore attracts a high degree of deliberation before a decision is made. And then there is Crown policy development, which can be deeply intellectual and demand complex ethical deliberation. Not to say that your point about defence work is invalid, just to say I think there can be a lot on the Crown side too in the intellectual department.
  17. To be clear, I’m referring to the comments expressed in the post below, which is what Ophelia had commented is a problematic attitude and was being responded to, in part, in the post I quoted: ”Articling is a period when you need to “man up.” Long hours? Suck it up. Lots of projects? Smile and keep hustling. Asked to do mundane tasks? Sure no problem. That’s the attitude you need to have during articling if you want to get hired back/want a solid reference. Using time off - unless it’s absolutely necessary I wouldn’t use it.“
  18. Where I work, you're not judged by the fact you take vacation time off that you contractually receive, but by the quality of your work and a reasonable level of output. I'm glad that's the attitude of my articling principal too, who happens to be a senior litigator and is no shrinking violet when it comes assessing articling students by exacting standards. The prior poster Opehila is right. The attitude of you have to "man up" and "suck it up", and that taking time off that you have received should be viewed as a risk lest it impact hire-back, is exactly the sort of attitude that contributes to a mental health crisis in law.
  19. I think the situation that you described of a student asking about work/life balance as their first question, and the earlier hypothetical of a student only asking questions about work/life balance, are both appropriately concerning. It is peculiar that in the context of a job a candidate is trying to get, their first question or only questions would be along those lines. But, equally concerning, are the ideas that: (1) A discussion or singular question about how a place of employment approaches work/life balance equates to a candidate wanting to limit their office hours in a way that would interfere with their employment responsibilities. (2) It is ignorant or arrogant, in general, to place value on stable or balanced working hours starting out in the legal profession. There is a range of legal employment available, both as an articling student and thereafter, with differences in the hours expected and worked. That consideration playing a role in determining legal employment is not necessarily indicative of ignorance or arrogance, inasmuch as reasonably different views people have about, well, work/life balance. Look, I think if a prospective articling student is going with an attitude of “I’m working 9-5, never on a weekend, and my employer needs to deal with it” that’s bunk. At the same time, I think an employer thinking the mere whiff of a student expressing consideration about how to succeed at work while scheduling appropriate personal time is a warning sign, is a problematic attitude. That should not have to be a topic that is anathema to getting a job. And I would say that challenges around mental health, actual work/life balance in the profession, and so forth exist partly as a result of an unwillingness to have, rush to judgment about, or minimization of the relevance and importance of that conversation, at all stages of legal careers.
  20. Sure. Which is why if a candidate can only ask one question, that may be not the best choice. Ultimately though, if there is a back-and-forth, or a broader interactive context, the work-life balance question or discussion coming up should not ipso facto reflect poorly on a candidate. That was the POV that some posters suggested, which I think is problematic for the reasons I canvassed. I agree that a candidate coming across exclusively concerned with limiting their work, whether through questions about work-life balance or otherwise, would not be and should not be well-received. At the same time, I think the fact an employee is proactively canvassing how a workplace conceives of or supports a balance between work and personal life, should not be viewed with automatic suspicion or negativity.
  21. Here's the thing - this thread was started to advise students about improving their applications/interview techniques. The consensus among professionals is that generally speaking, if a student is given a 17 minute OCI (or a 45 minute in firm interview) and they use that time to ask generic questions such as those directed to the firm's work-life-balance, that type of inquiry isn't going to put them above the rest of the competition. My point, again, is why it is wrong to conclude a student is not dedicated or their inquiry is “stupid” based on asking the question — both perspectives stated in this thread. There may be reasonable disagreements about the utility of the question itself in those contexts.
  22. My claim was not that students should ask the question in all interviews. Nor that the LSO only makes smart decisions. My point is that if a student does ask a question on work-life balance, to consider that inquiry as “stupid” or to negatively assess the student as a result (which effectively the OP endorsed), is the wrong response. It is legitimately a relevant topic to the practice of law. The inclusion of the subject in CPD, profession-oriented publications, and so on is evidence of that. It is not unreasonable for a prospective employee to raise it, if only to see how a prospective employer approaches the subject. It may not be what you would do, people may have different views on how to bring the subject up, but the question should not be viewed as an indication that a student is uncommitted or will not do the work.
  23. Yeah, so stupid a subject that the regulator of our profession sees it as specifically worthy of CPD. https://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=2147501816 (5.0)
  24. There is a lot of good advice in your post, however two items jump out as concerning. 1. The legal profession is suffering from a mental health crisis. Your attitude that even inquiring about work-life balance, or caring about it, suggests absence of dedication or “fragility” is precisely what contributes to that crisis. You can set out clear expectations as an employer about the work required, without adopting a belittling attitude toward someone who is thinking about work life balance as a legitimate subject. 2. The degree to which your specific interpretation of male fashion sense informs your perception of a candidate borders on the absurd. It is reasonable to expect a candidate to wear appropriate formal attire, less so to expect them to colour coordinate their tie clip and watch. For what it’s worth to any prospective candidates, I work at a highly competitive office for articling, and several articling colleagues wear “funny” socks daily (like the PM or George H.W. Bush) and we comfortably discuss work-life balance with our principals without fear of judgment.
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