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celli660

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Everything posted by celli660

  1. Everyone, thanks for the horrific confirmation of normalcy. Not so sure if you recall, but I was just called last year, so this is all kind of new to me. To be truthful, I had a pretty serious anxiety that this was the circumstance when I went to the client's home. Having the police confirm the death was a huge weight off my shoulders. The death was brutal, but the specter of the death was far worse than the actual news. What I was mostly grappling with is the severity of my advice. I told my guy how and what a guilty plea would do to his career, the parenting situation, everything. In hindsight, I could see that it might have been a bit much to unload on a poor guy on the eve of trial. Do you ever pull your punches or try to trickle in the severity of a legal consequence when you know the client is screwed? Are there strategies for advising your client that their life is over in a nice way? I want to know how to approach these situations with honesty, candour, and compassion so that this doesn't happen again.
  2. I talked to a practice advisor the other day in reaction to one of my client's taking their own life. He seemed to think that it was fairly common for lawyers to have clients take their own lives, especially in family and criminal law. Is that actually the lived experience for you guys? Just for some background, this was a little messed up for me because I was negotiating a deal for this guy and hadn't heard back from him for a couple days. I even went to his house and talked to his neighbours. After calling police for a welfare check, an officer stopped by my house and let me know that the client was deceased. The flip side of this is that I felt very guilty because I had been representing him in a high-conflict family situation and he had some charges related to some post-separation behaviour with ex-spouse. He had asked me about what a plea deal entailed and I explained the ramifications. Shortly after that he took his life, so I can't help but feel like it was my fault for setting out the consequences of the plea and having a record. Has anyone been in that situation and second-guessed their advice after the fact? Should lawyers be so fatalistic and honest about the consequences of a decision?
  3. You guys are forgetting that you can also take general retainers from clients. (money into general without being in trust first) Now the rules on those are crazy and I can't see many clients doing it, but it is possible to have a retainer without operating a trust account.
  4. I would absolutely do this if it's got all the boxes ticked for you. I will echo everyone else though and say that you should absolutely not hold this in your PC. Just as a starting point, I would never want to hold an asset with a PC. It's nice for you to act like your own landlord, there's benefit to having your own lease, paying actual rent to your own company, having slush funds in your holdco, easier to keep the two distinct if you want to sell one or the other, and on. Not any of my business how you do stuff, but there's probably a reason why every lawyer here is screeching bloody murder about holding real property in your PC (might be just reflex for billings, but I doubt it). But that sounds exciting and good luck!
  5. After having oc put my emails into affidavits, I changed my email signature to include a clear warning that settlement privilege applies when settlement privilege applies and the only "with prejudice" communications you will receive from me will appear in the form of a letter on the firm's letterhead. So on those occasions I write my letter, print it and attach it to my email. I wish I didn't have to do that, but some lawyers are real dicks.
  6. Issues I've seen in family law are as follows: 1. There are no consequences to claimants who make false allegations of abuse to obtain protection/restraining orders where none is warranted. This NEEDS to change. If we want to avoid the bastard wife playbook (for lack of a better phrase) we need to identify and flag potentially abusive litigation that proceeds in the following order: female partner obtains restraining order against husband, obtains exclusive possession of the home, obtains order for child support and begins enforcing immediately, female partner allows home to go into default (mortgage or lease). Then later that same partner is found to have concocted the story, status quo is already set, and other partner is now an access parent with no place to live and no funds to obtain alternative residence. Likewise, we have the deadbeat dad playbook: Move out of the matrimonial home, never pay support, never seek access. Upon support being sought, access is requested and fought over, 2. Courts should mandate 50-50 parenting as the default and presumptive position without sufficient evidence to deviate from that system. This would solve so many problems. I can't tell you how often my family clients fight over parenting time only to end up at a 50-50 eventually and everything is fine after that. Not being with kids is incredibly stressful and painful for parents, so it drives a lot of the litigation. 3. Real budgets should come back. What I mean is that interim support needs to take into account the means of both spouses based on actual expenses, not claimed expenses. courts should make a real effort to set support at an amount that actually normalizes net disposible income after expenses, not before. Yes, mom or dad might have 54% of the NDI according to divorcemate, but if they're also paying 75% of the other spouse's expenses, then the NDI is more like 85% in favour of the payee. 4. Chambers justices should refuse more interlocutory applications where the issues are far too complex to be argued in 20 minutes. As a starting point, if your affidavit is more than 20 pages including exhibits, it's too much for chambers. A 20-page affidavit takes ten minutes to read, so gtfo of here with that. 5. Custodial decisions made by the non-custodial parent should be able to be unwound immediately. I can't tell you how often a child is hurt by a parent's decision to put a kid into a different school only to have them pulled from that same school three months later when the decision is made. Likewise, there needs to be cost consequences for parents that make unilateral decisions where there is evidence that both parents make custodial decisions. 6. If you haven't noticed the trend, I think a big problem is that vexatious family litigation is frought with the failure of the courts to award costs against non-successful parties in family litigation. Parties taking unreasonable or unnecessarily harsh stances on issues need to be sanctioned with costs. If they have the money to hire a lawyer, or for self-reps to show up in the middle of the working day, they can pay costs when they get out of line. There's more, but I need to think of it now.
  7. Being an articling student, but having worked in a pure commission environment in a previous career, I would be inclined to ask for something in the vein of eat what you kill minus shared expenses or something close to 60-40 in your favour than a straight 40% cut. Depends on who you're working with and what the capacity is for increases in business. Again, I am an articling student. I have literally 0 experience with law firm pay structures, but this is something I think about a lot. If you're not going to be doing any business development, then I would be inclined to think that they may as well have you on a salary. Look at it from an objective perspective and think how your current structure could be as easily structured as a straight 85k salary and see why that makes sense. Your current salary structure is also kind of weird to me, it might as well be 77,500 with 20% of receipts over 175k/year. If you're considering splits, I would always ask to the see three years receivables and billables before accepting or even mulling the idea over. I was offered one of: 55k/year, 35k/year base with 20% split on all receipts, or a 40% split as an articling student/first year with fees/insurance/CPLED covered by employer.
  8. I imagine space law is a combination of international property law, maritime law, and contract law. So bone up on those? I can't imagine what else it could possibly entail, perhaps some international criminal stuff for hacking and destroying? In any event, I don't imagine that there's going to be much of a niche for space law as a distinct area of practice that won't just be given to top firms in the sectors I already mentioned. Or in other words, I don't think you could ever open partner partner llp boutique space law firm.
  9. I just brought a keyboard to exams. I hate all laptop keyboards and only tolerate typing on them for notes because I'm not lugging around a damn keyboard everywhere.
  10. So as a new lawyer, your question needs to be "okay so how much work are you going to give me?" If its none, then why should you even work for this person?
  11. Maybe it's because I assume most articling students haven't ever had a real career, but in the future, whenever you take a job that has a discrete ending date, you should start looking for new opportunities about 2-3 months before the end of that date. Even if you think there's a 100% chance you will get renewed or 'hired back' you should still interview in the wide world to see what opportunities there are. I can't stress this enough but your career is YOUR career and nobody is going to hand you everything on a platter and let you dig in whilst rewarding you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Either you get in the mindset early on that you and your employer or partners or whomever are each benefiting from the arrangement and you're each balancing your interests, or you learn to accept whatever comes your way and not to bitch about it (ie: you get what you get and you don't get upset). If you decide to start approaching your career as a potential asset to others that has a cost, you are more likely see your cost and your work in a positive light. You will also understand decisions and circumstances, like the one you find yourself in, have nothing to do with you personally. I can almost guarantee that nothing about what happened at your firm had anything to do with you, and had a shitload more to do with partner trying to shield the other partners from the fact that s/he is leaving.
  12. Well, I mean if you invest in a non-reg account you could probably get the effective rate pretty low, depending on your marginal tax bracket. And if you specifically targeted Canadian corporations through an index that paid eligible dividends, you might come out ahead over the life of the loan (15 years). The issue is that you're also stuck paying back the principal unless your dividend rate covers the interest and the principal payment, which seems unlikely to me.
  13. Yeah good question. I'm dividing by five for rent, utilities, insurance, etc since I do not get any support from the conveyancer and I do substantial amounts of the receptionist's work in addition to my own. I acknowledge in that quote that perhaps the receptionist's salary should be factored in. If it would make you contribute more to the conversation then we could attribute an additional $1k/month for my share of the receptionist's salary. This was a really good point that I thought about for a while... I don't think my boss has 300k in work to give out, so that's a non-start position. I would imagine that it's more like my boss has 150-200k to give out and if I was billing 300k and he said "now that you're doing 150/year of your own business, I'm going to hire another associate so I can make an extra 4k on the work I would normally give you" I would just leave. So my concern in all this is how to properly balance the cost to me of needing to get my own business as a very junior lawyer (I'm just starting articles) against the value my employer receives from me obtaining my own work.
  14. Firm is very unspecialised, basically like working for a solo in a small town. On 2, I'm just attributing a ratio to me based on 10k per month for the office divided by 5 staff. Perhaps that should be more with if accounting for the receptionist, but I'm also pulling the phone to pick up for people when nobody else is around so I figure that would even out. With respect to three, if I don't do it then it won't get done and I prefer to have those things for at least the veneer of professionalism it brings.
  15. Just for clarity, I know what the firm's billings are and while I gather that a lot of the firm's revenue is generated from the goodwill of the owner (there are only two lawyers, plus me and staff) that if I want to make anywhere near enough money to so much as pay down my loans on the set schedule, that I would need to hustle my own business from basically minute 1. Now, I have other advantages that are unique to me (this is my fifth year with the firm for example) and I know a lot of the clients, and I do a lot of my own work with little to no supervision, but I'm not convinced that a 40% split is reasonable for me. With regards to the response by Diplock, I have been self-employed in a professional service role before and more than understand the rule of thirds. In this case the firm is largely operating on alternative fee structures and very few of our files work on time incurred, so I can't actually turn more hours spent into more receivables for me (or the firm for that matter). What I am concerned about is what the 40% translates into in real dollars vs. what I get for my 60%. Again, having seen the billings I can guarantee that if I did all the work of the firm year over year, I would be pocketing less than a 5th year lock-step employee with a big firm. To better clarify what I am canvassing opinions on: 1. What is a reasonable percentage for accounts and files that I bring in compared to files that are handed to me? Is there a point in differentiating those amounts? What is the value of the goodwill in percentage terms? If I'm going to negotiate an alternative to the currently proposed split, then I need to come up with something that's fair. I'm considering two possible alternatives. One would have 20% going to whoever brings in the account, then the remainder being split equally between me and firm, so if boss hands me all my work for the year, then sure, the 60-40 split stands, but then I'm making 60% on work I'm bringing in the door, or at least 20% on work I bring in that I don't or can't do. The other way I conceived would have tranches or cutoffs, so I would be on a 40-60 for the first 100k, 60-40 on the next 100k, and 80-20 on anything above 200k. At 300k per year of billings that would work out to about 120k going to employer and 180 going to me, but employer is actually taking about 84k in profit (based on cost estimates below), fulfilling that rule of thirds. 2. How much actual cost would be attributable to an associate that doesn't have an assistant? The way that I cracked down the numbers, it looks like it's about 6k per year for basic liability insurance, 4k/year for dues, another 2k/year for excess e&o coverage, and then about 2k per month for attributable share of office expenses. So that puts me at $36k for a year in terms of raw cost to employer. Does that seem right? 3. If I'm on a pure split arrangement, should I then still be subject to a fixed schedule and how do we address non-billable hours? Over the past year I have spent a lot of time making a website, developing forms, writing blog posts, etc. but once I'm on a percentage, why would I spend time doing that for employer for free? Do people on splits have any basis for how to compensate for those hours?
  16. What a fantastic question to ask a bunch of law students. I got in to U of T everyone! Now how do I defraud the student aid office?
  17. Anyone shed some light on split ratios? I'm being proposed a 40% of receivables and time billed on receivables and want to know if that's fair and where the heck the rest of the 60% fits in as a cost.
  18. I have been told that Calgary is the second largest legal market in Canada, to give some frame of reference to why salaries are different between cow-town and Edmonton. Not sure if this is still the case, but I wouldn't be surprised.
  19. I just opened a site for our firm. We use godaddy hosting, email, and the website builder. it''s easy and intuitive.
  20. Even if I took everything you said on face value, that's still not the profession. The original and most damning comment that I replied to was " Insofar as people are complaining to the law society because they think their working hours are "unreasonable" or they are too stressed out, I'd suggest they quit right now because the practice of law is not for them. " That's not the same as 'biglaw might not be for you' and that shouldn't be the metric that we put everyone to in any event. Law is flexible and demanding at the same time, so that yes people can and will self-select into or out of those kinds of roles or workloads. My point remains that lawyers should not tell people that they should give up on their chosen career because they and their colleagues like to work ridiculous hours every year week in and week out.
  21. I wasn't responding to the article in my original reply above, I was responding to goodlaw as quoted. Fair point all round.
  22. Any time I don't understand a topic discussed in class, my go to is blacks, or the CED. I find those resources consistently clarify everything my professors and textbook authors muddle.
  23. I'm not saying firms need to be asinine with their human capital deployment. The problem, as I see it, is that when you have literally hundreds of lawyers in an office, it's hard to imagine that the firm couldn't employ a hundred more to lessen the burden on the existing staff instead of demanding 'more'. As a thought experiment, consider how your firm would operate if instead of setting an expectation that associates or partners bill 1800 hours a year or more, that they were not allowed to bill more than 1800 hours per year. The mere fact that "document review" is a career trajectory for any lawyer is proof that these opportunities exist and the bare assertion that "if you can't hack working 3100 hours per year, then choose a different profession dum-dum" is at best an endorsement of a broken system and at worst an excuse to belittle people who have a view of life that isn't focused on money, workaholism, or really any feeling of entitlement to actually live the life you work so hard to finance. With respect to sole practitioners, but nodding especially to the criminal trial lawyers, I can appreciate that the financial aspect of your career is certainly less prominent and the expectation that you work a certain number of hours is more reflective of your desire to be effective counsel than a desire to use your occupation to thrust you into the upper middle class. That being said, you are not target of the "if you can't hack consistently 60 hour weeks, you're not suited to the profession" lines that are flouted at people exiting law school and being subjected to abusive articling environments or 'up-or-out' firm structures.
  24. Yeah, see, but that is in fact toxic. You have drunk the koolaid and are now shilling it around. The fact is, law firms, especially the kind to expect associates to work consistently 60 hour weeks, are massively profitable. The margins are staggering and the business is pretty much dead simple. Not only is it not necessary that those employees work 60-70 hours per week, every week, but it's not necessary that most lawyers even work 2000 hours per year. If law firms wanted to, they could have everyone work 30 or 40 hours per week on average ( sometimes those hours would still be bad) and pay them literally 1/2 of the salary that they pay their current associates and come out only slightly behind. The reality here is that law firms want to maximize the amount of revenue per chair or per licensing fee, or whatever the hell metric you decide to use, but the important part is that the only reason this is the expectation is because "the partners aren't going to be hiring any more associates than we already budgeted for" coupled with "the partners get paid according to how much they bill, plus some bonuses for how much work they bring in to the firm". And let's all stop this shit about law not being for anyone who isn't willing to work those kinds of bullshit hours. Yes, sometimes you will have to work harder, you will have a long trial with dailies and harsh deadlines, briefs due at 9 am in a trial where you just finished at 5:30 pm. Or you might have to put together a deal, or what have you, but in law there's a lot more opportunity to structure your life positively with lots of down time instead of running from tire fire to tire fire dabbing it out with your clients' hundred-dollar bills.
  25. Greater competition doesn't cause greater expectations? I would assume downtown lawyers are more competent than an outskirts lawyers on average because of the competition factor. If you want to start talking about microcosms, that's cool too. That's certainly a great way to approach life, but it's mentally taxing and inefficient.
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