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Everything posted by ghoulzrulez

  1. On a basic level, 'law' can arise from several sources: common law (law derived by custom and court decisions), contract law (what the parties agreed to in the particular circumstances), and statute (legislation that imposes various obligations and entitlements on parties). In the majority of areas of practice, you will be dealing with some combination of these various sources of law and will need to have a good grasp of all of them - which is likely the reason that no one is a "contract lawyer" per se. For example, if you practice employment and labour law in Ontario, you will become familiar with the Employment Standards Act, Human Rights Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act, etc. which provide some basic rules governing employment relationships, many of which cannot be opted out of. You will become accustomed to preparing, reviewing, and interpreting the terms of individual employment contracts, collective agreements, restrictive covenants, policies, etc. You will also keep up to date on court decisions, which can impact how pieces of legislation are applied, how contracts and their provisions will be interpreted, what outcomes a client can expect when the employment relationship turns sour, and even who is considered an 'employee' or 'employer'.
  2. @LawSchoolJock Employment and labour law is a really diverse area of practice (as diverse as the array of people and companies who are 'employers' and 'workers'). You can work in Big Law, focusing primarily on employer-side issues and executive compensation. You can work in boutiques that focus exclusively on labour and employment law, working for unions, employers, individual employees, or some combination. You can be in-house counsel for a union or large company. You can work for legal clinics who primarily service low-income individuals or marginalized communities. Etc. Etc.
  3. I'm at a small firm (5-9 lawyers) in Ontario. The firm pays for my law society fees, insurance, and CPD. I'm not sure how comparable it would be to Western provinces, but for me, coverage for my law society fees, insurance, and CPD adds up to roughly $6000 - $6500, so certainly not an insignificant factor when negotiating a salary/compensation package.
  4. Though I don't know the exact issues you're having with other students, you may come to meet people in your upper years who you actually like (or at least can put up with). During 1L, I didn't really get along with many people in my section - they seemed cliquey, constantly talked about grades, and generally seemed like their goals in law school were very different than my own. After 1L, I thought that this what all law students were like and I wouldn't be making any real connections during my time at law school. However, in my upper years, where I was able to pick the types of courses I was interested in and got more involved with extra-curriculars closely aligned with my interests, I found that I was exposed to people who I had more in common with and who I actually got along with.
  5. I don't know exactly what you mean when you say that your grades haven't been "great" (i.e. are we talking about mostly B's or mostly C's?), so it's hard to tell the impact that they will have on your chances. But as others have said, there is still time to improve your grades and some schools only consider your last two years. Getting references (at least in my experience) became easier in later years, when there were generally smaller class sizes, seminar-type courses, and the opportunity to take more than one course with any given professor. Also, like others, I did not find that my extra-curriculars had too much of an impact on my applications. I worked throughout undergrad, but only had two or three extra-curriculars - I got in everywhere I applied, except UofT (it was a long-shot). Try to get involved in extra-curriculars that genuinely interest you or that have some value to you (other than padding your law school applications).
  6. I'm a new call and my working conditions are fairly comparable to what OP has described (as far as level of responsibility, size of firm, and type of work). I receive a base salary, a monthly bonus for meeting certain billable targets, plus a percentage of collected billings over a certain annual threshold (roughly $200,000). I like that my arrangement provides some stability, combined with the potential to increase my earnings. My boss has mentioned a few times that this type of arrangement for collected billings works for the firm because the initial chunk has to go towards overhead, whereas after a certain amount, my collected billings become pure profit for the firm.
  7. To echo what others have said, in my experience (applying for articling positions myself, and helping conduct my firm's articling recruitment process), I have found that small and medium sized firms are especially concerned with the prospect of their articling students sticking around. Taking on an articling student is an investment on any firm's part - no one wants to spend ten months training someone, only for them to immediately look elsewhere. When there's a small firm, who is likely only hiring one or two articling students in a year and doesn't have a whole host of lawyers and staff to share the "training" responsibilities, finding an articling student who will be a future associate becomes all the more important.
  8. I'm not a K-JD'er (took off one year after undergrad to work), but I'm still relatively young and in my first few months of practice. I've had experiences where clients have refused to work with me, not trusted my advice, spoken down to me, or mistaken me for a law clerk/ assistant. Some of this, I suspect, is a function of being a new call, but I do think some of this behaviour is linked to being a young female, in a profession where people historically expect to be working with an older man. I imagine that these types of experiences are even more common for young, racialized women in the profession. https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9180528--you-don-t-look-like-a-lawyer-female-lawyers-and-lawyers-of-colour-angered-by-mistaken-identity-in-court/
  9. I had a similar experience when I started articling - for the first month or two, I was getting very little work, despite repeatedly asking for things to do. I started in the summer, and a number of the lawyers told me there simply wasn't that much work going around. Still, I was concerned because: 1) I felt like I wasn't getting the experience I needed; and 2) I was expected to hit target billables. Ultimately, the problem fixed itself within a few months, and I ended up getting plenty of work. A few things I did in the meantime: enrolled in CPD programming; attended court to watch motions, trials, etc.; reviewed my firm's precedents and prepared some helpful guides for myself; and asked the lawyers to tag along on appearances or sit in on client meetings. Though this didn't solve the "billable" problem, I at least felt like I was being productive and taking advantage of learning opportunities. Definitely keep offering to take on work (from any of the lawyers and in any practice area). Keep a record of your offers to do work. That way, if you get comments that your billables aren't up to par, you can show that you've been proactive and your lack of billables isn't due to a lack of effort.
  10. I don't know that I would call what I've experienced as boredom, but I have definitely experienced feelings of aimlessness. As you've alluded to, when you're in school, there are generally structured or obvious achievements and milestones that you are working towards (making honour roll, getting into law school, passing bar exams, securing an articling position). Since finishing articling and moving into practice, I've found myself asking, "What now?". Not that there aren't things to work towards - it's just now I have to get more creative and self-reflective in determining what these goals are. In addition to thinking about long-term career objectives , I've found it helpful to set attainable, short-term objectives that I can work towards and get a sense of satisfaction from completing.
  11. Very sorry to hear you experienced something like this. Though I know a handful of individuals who have experienced issues of harassment or discrimination in the course of their legal careers (albeit less blatant or explicit), I certainly don't think its the norm. I have had a few instances, as a young female, where clients and other members of the profession have refused to work with me, not trusted my advice, spoken down to me, or mistaken me for a law clerk or assistant. As others have said, this was in no way your fault. I hope you don't let the abysmal actions of this asshole discourage you from pursuing a legal career, which I am sure you have worked very hard towards.
  12. Assuming you're in Ontario (I have no knowledge of requirements elsewhere), you don't have to complete the bar exams before articling. I personally wrote one of the two during articling, and my employer provided me with the necessary time off to study and write.
  13. You could always put a line in there somewhere saying, "Additional references available upon request", but I would agree with the majority - follow the instructions in the job post. As someone who has reviewed articling student applications, I don't know how impressed I'd be if applicants started submitting all sorts of "extras", expecting me to have all the time in the world to review them. It also comes off as somewhat unfair to the applicants who followed the instructions, who might otherwise have all sorts of "extras" (extra reference letters, extra writing samples, etc.).
  14. Is there a place to get changed at the ceremony?
  15. I've had occasions where I've been talking through legal issues and had a "I think I remember there was a case where the Court held x" moment. I then look through my notes and voila, there's the case. Obviously, I'm still reading the case, noting it up to make sure it's good law, and doing further research into relevant sources, but notes can be helpful to an extent, however limited.
  16. To echo what may other posters have said, you're looking at an uphill battle. Getting a 170 on the LSAT is no easy feat. Law school is incredibly costly and time consuming. Based on your post, you will probably have to work incredibly hard in law school to secure competitive grades. And if you study abroad, you're going to have to put in an awful lot of work to find articling. You then start working long, stressful hours. Depending on your practice, you may very well be making less money than you would have if you invested a comparable amount of time and resources into another career. None of this is to say that going into law will be impossible or that you shouldn't pursue a legal career, but you should seriously consider whether it is worth the considerable time, expense, and effort. Do your motivations for pursuing law outweigh these challenges? If you're only interested in a career that is reputable and relatively well-paying, there a plenty of paths you can consider outside of law, many requiring a lot less time, schooling, and expense.
  17. The exam is divided into the same sections as the materials (with the exception of professional responsibility, which is an overarching theme that is covered in every section).
  18. As others have indicated, you need to do something during your summer months, even if you can't find a paid legal position. You may consider reaching out to clinics, given that many are underfunded and understaffed, and may be in need of some assistance. I didn't manage to find a paid law job during the summer going into 3L, so instead, I worked roughly 30 hours/week at a paid non-law position and volunteered just under 20 hours/week at a clinic. I found that this worked for me as I was getting legal experience, but still had money coming in. The clinic wasn't a formal placement. I cold-called clinics and inquired about opportunities. The supervisor of the clinic I ended up at was happy to provide a position, as they used PBSC students during the school year to provide services that they wouldn't be able to otherwise (due to budgetary constraints). The students were gone for the summer, so I took on the work of a PBSC student.
  19. For context, I am articling at a small firm (<10 lawyers) in the GTA. The salary isn't great, though it is higher than what you're referencing. I didn't have much luck negotiating my salary. Prospective articling students have limited bargaining power and I think most firms are aware of that. However, I was able to negotiate some perks that made my costs of living a lot more manageable, even with a not-so-great-salary. You may want to try asking for some benefits or allowances, such as payment of you LSO fees, a transportation allowance, a cellphone allowance, etc. This is the approach that worked for me.
  20. As far as I remember (from a few years ago), the deposit is only about $500. While it's not pocket change, I think you have to accept that that's money you aren't going to see again. On a more positive note, congrats on being accepted to two great schools.
  21. I'm articling at a firm in the GTA (outside Toronto) and am focused mainly on litigation. In my position, I would say having a car is absolutely essential, and I'm not sure that the firm would hire someone that didn't have one (or at least regular access to one). I have to attend court a few times a week in places scattered across the GTA and beyond (as far as Gravenhurst). Public transit isn't really an option, and taking ubers/cabs wouldn't be cost effective. I imagine if I told my bosses, "I can't go to court for this client, because I have no way of getting there", they wouldn't be keeping me around for very long. On the other hand, I can definitely imagine all sorts of scenarios that would let a lawyer get by without a car (such as the one above). For those who only occasionally need to use a vehicle, enrolling in a ride share program might also be an option worth considering.
  22. I've always thought it was strange that the same people who are opposed to mandatory estates and family courses (because they have no intention of practicing in those areas) often take no issue with criminal law being mandatory. Unless you're practicing in criminal law (and maybe family law), do you really need to have a good grasp of criminal law?
  23. I do see some positive aspects, but Ryerson also seems to be all over the place about what it's hoping to achieve (apart from raking in tuition $$$). For example, law students should get exposure to emerging technologies and the business elements of legal practice. This is especially important if you want your grads to set up shop or work as sole practitioners in underrepresented communities … but then why put yet another law school in Toronto? I mean, look at a map of Ontario and there is plenty of space between the province's existing schools, with a heck of a lot of communities (and potential clients) to be served. If you want to encourage more accessible legal services for small and rural communities, why not set up a law school in Barrie, Peterborough, Whitby, etc.?
  24. Based on my experiences, you are correct. I went to Osgoode and though I had a few courses that involved some group work, I generally elected to take these courses and knew of the applicable grading schemes when registering. I think I took one mandatory first year seminar that involved some group work, but that was a very minor element of the course. In other words, you can almost entirely avoid group work if you wish.
  25. The firm I'm articling with recently offered to hire me back (yay), but looking at their offer letter, I'm realizing I have very little idea as to what is "normal" as far as compensation/pay structures in small firms in the GTA (outside Toronto). I understand that these can be quite varied, but I haven't ever spoken to anyone who described a compensation structure similar to what I'm being offered. In attempt to keep this vague enough to maintain anonymity, while still detailed enough to generate discussion, I am being offered: a base of approximately $73,000 plus a monthly bonus for billable hours over certain thresholds, increasing incrementally (e.x. 120 hours = $1,300; 130 hours = $2,000; etc) plus a percentage of all collected billings over a certain annual amount (which would be hit after about 900 annual hours) Has anyone had a similar pay structure? If so, any challenges? Everyone I know seems to work for the government, in clinics, or on Bay, so I imagine their experiences are quite different.
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