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Uriel

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Uriel last won the day on December 16 2019

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  1. Even though well-placed, they're still just rumours; I don't want to be out here getting on the wrong side of some good old-fashioned trade libel. Since a lot of you weren't here 12 years ago, just a quick reminder that just because a firm is having a hard time doesn't mean the students are in trouble. In the last couple of recessions, we saw some emergency mergers that actually caused students to be "upgraded" into better firms... international buyouts that catapulted some "mid-tier" and regional firms into international juggernaut status... we saw some lower-billing senior associates and overpaid senior partners move from firm to firm... and generally when financial difficulties hit law firms the result was lower hiring at the OCI stage and not necessarily lower hireback. For many firms, mine included, cutting on hireback or new hires is more of a last resort. If you've just got a job at a Bay Street law firm, you should be the opposite of panicking, even if your firm happens to be one of (what are hopefully a very few) that are going to have to make some changes. As I say, I'm worried about my friends on the brink of partnership; you jerks are probably going to be fine.
  2. I really don't know! If a couple of firms are cutting hiring, are some of the next-tier firms ready to eat their lunch and scale up? I'm hearing as well that some smaller and specialized firms are among those bootin' butts and taking names at the moment. It's a good thing at least in being able to distinguish between practices. Normally it would be tough to decide between essentially identical firms; but come 2022 it could well be that my firm will let you live in a mansion in Nova Scotia and commute in one week a month, whereas Morgans will still require you to be in the office every day, night and twice on Sundays. That could be a real differentiator for those that either really want that freedom or really wouldn't perform well with it.
  3. Very concerning rumours flying around from well-connected sources about a few Bay Street firms in serious difficulty. Worried about some good friends across the street that have been killing themselves to get ahead in places with an uncertain future. You think all these firms are generally the same, and then something like this happens and there's a huge spectrum from the sky falling to firms doing so well they want to incorporate work-from-home on a permanent basis. Bay Street is going to look very different on the other side of this. The same kind of tiers might still be there, but all you applicants are going to have much more variety in your choices. Some firms are going to come out stodgy and unfazed; others are going to completely roll over into coffee-shop drop-in bistros; some might be slashed to near-irrelevance or merge (I can think of two clear candidates)... what a time to be alive.
  4. If you show up at the office I will see you the exact same amount as if you stay home.
  5. I actually don't know Italian wines. I got into learning French and New World wines and then just got too busy to figure out the four or five hundred different galaxies that exist on that crazy peninsula. I will say that there are certain litigation shops I approach like a Muscat. Ha, ha... no one? Seriously, though, I have to echo the cognoscenti here. Culture is, in my experience, department-by-department, and in many cases driven by the partners in power. If everyone came up in a given shop having to satisfy the demands of two or three brutal taskmasters, it's going to be a hard-nosed group; if the players at another firm's litigation group are more the laid-back, unflappable type, you're going to see associates coming up that aren't taking themselves too seriously. And even within a department, you might see a gung-ho Type A securities litigation practice and a chilled-out employment law group. All by way of saying that yes, firms might have a prevailing culture since we all get to hire our own coworkers and that encourages a groupthink in terms of what a good lawyer looks and sounds like; but even at the stiffest shop there are going to be partners you can junior for that will bend the mould. I often say that you won't really get a sense of what the culture at a firm is until you see which of your classmates have been hired where. Since that's a bit too late to be helpful, go meet the 3Ls and grab coffees with anyone that has summered at the place where you scored interviews -- spend 17 minutes with them, and then remember that Firm X hired that person based in part on a 17-minute interview. If you find that person to be unbearably pretentious, or irritably bro-ey, you'll have a good sense of what the rest of that cohort is going to look like and whether or not you want that to be the kind of person that'll be trying to give you misguided career tips for the next few years.
  6. I guess I'll also add that different firms do it differently. For some, almost everyone is a non-equity partner first, and then they leverage the title to demonstrate their aptitude for equity partnership, which seems closer to what @barelylegal describes. For others, equity is the default and income partnership is considered a "holding pen" for associates you don't want to fire, but that don't seem to have a path to a sustainable practice. For still others, it's a pure business decision in each individual case as to how much you want to invest in Practice A or Practice B; or what the minimum would be to keep Lawyer C from going across the street. There are firms where everyone generally rises through income partnership to equity along a track, and others where potential future rainmakers go straight to equity while subject matter experts wallow and spend years looking to make a breakthrough. EDIT: This also seems to assume that everyone wants equity partnership, but that's an increasingly unsafe assumption. In some firms, income partners are actually making more money than lower-tier equity partners during Covid because their income is guaranteed! Some firms are also finding it difficult to encourage partners to exit the income partner role. I mean, if you're making $250-300k with no downside and a Partner title, and without any administrative responsibilities at the firm or involvement in shady firm politics, there are more than a few Millennials that will kick their feet up because, heck, they've already "made it". Why push on? DOUBLE EDIT: I also forgot that some firms are also pushing weird hybrids where "income" partners do have to buy in, do get all the confidential information, do get a vote in partnership meetings, but have a baseline compensation that can go up or down within a smaller bandwidth than the swing equity partners can experience. Full disclosure: I didn't 100% understand what my friend was explaining, but it sounded almost like they were creating a third hybrid category for the expert/high-biller class where they get all the perks and responsibilities of partnership and business ownership but don't buy in as much and don't "ride the roller coaster" in the same way equity partners do. If I've got that right, it might be an interesting way to value the contribution of people who are just damn good lawyers but not great businesspeople. I've always thought (probably because I'm not a great businessperson) that just bringing in the business shouldn't be the main determinant of compensation -- at least part of why rainmakers land business is because of the reputation of the firm... which is earned by the grinders winning cases and closing deals.
  7. Again, depends on the firm. Some would view pure billing -- no special expertise, no book of business, no non-billable contributions -- to be more descriptive of a Counsel role than an income partner role. There are certainly income partners and equity partners who have no book of business and who only bill on other people's files. That's not unusual, especially when you're dealing with a lot of institutional legacy clients. The question is forward-looking. Will this person be able to support their own practice, or will their contribution be in jeopardy if they lose their patrons, or if they become too expensive to do the kind of work they're doing now? So, for example: The IP lawyer who just processes trademarks and deals with trademark disputes loathes business development and won't do it. Besides, she's super busy working files. Her expertise is invaluable and there's a good flow of work to her from all over the business law department of the firm. We definitely don't want to lose her, and she deserves a voice in how the firm is run, so welcome to income partnership! Two years later, it becomes apparent that the same clients she's been working for day in and day out keep calling her directly and sending her their files. They're still technically someone else's clients, but they're not going anywhere -- they're her trademark clients, kind of. It's easily foreseeable that even if some of the partners referring work to her leave, those clients will still be sending her work or referring other people to her. Her practice can sustain itself and possibly even employ an associate or two. 15 years from now, it's not hard to imagine that she will be billing at least half a million dollars a year even if she doesn't do anything differently. Welcome to equity partnership! In contrast, consider the litigation associate that has no real expertise but does a great job on whatever he's asked to do. He's super good at organizing a case and doing research. No one really knows who he is outside the four walls of the firm, and no one is contacting him directly for help. He's a resource to the other lawyers that value his judgment, experience and photographic memory for documents. He's a key member of the team and in high demand. But if he were to open up his own shop across the street, his revenue would be zero. He doesn't generate his own work, and there's no obvious path to how he would do so if he wanted to. He'd have to pick a specialty and start marketing from scratch. He doesn't interface with clients much, though he'd have no trouble doing so. We love him, we'll pay him the same as an income partner, but he doesn't have the same business interest in the firm that the rest of us do, and he doesn't worry about client issues the way the rest of us do. He'll be our Counsel. Hopefully that makes sense? The line is fuzzy and it'll be different from firm to firm, but for me the touchstone is sustainability. If your practice isn't self-sustaining -- if you could embarrass yourself at the holiday party and see your billings go to zero, if someone puts you on files because they choose to -- you're looking at counsel. If it's self-sustaining because you're not easily replaced and you will always have adequate demand for your work coming from others, income partnership. If it's self-sustaining because we can see how, in the long run, you will personally be hired to do a significant amount of work at partnership rates, you're an equity partner.
  8. A really shocking number of my partners, including senior ones with a lot of clout, are swearing up and down that they're never coming back and they're serious. Some firms have done way better than expected under these circumstances, and it's leading to a lot of questions about whether we really need all this space, all this overhead... We already had a handful of partners and a smattering of associates living outside the GTA and commuting in as needed, and those arrangements had been really successful. Now we've got associates climbing the walls begging to be allowed to move to better housing markets and senior partners buying up vineyards and equestrian facilities in the country with the intention to make that their base of operations. I'll call it now: We'll be under 50% back by Hallowe'en, mostly by choice and not necessity. As for me, my job is to commute in and answer e-mails and phone calls. From time to time I go to court --- as often as not, outside the GTA. With the exception of seeing friends and teammates and having bullpen brainstorming sessions, there's really no need for me to be in the office. I'm not going back until I'm sure my kids are safe, however long that takes. I can't imagine being back in September.
  9. On a more sober note, I always thought I would be happy when those days were over and I would never have to go to those asinine clubs again, shouting small talk to junior associates I hardly knew while waiting for an opportune time to find my way to a lounge; but then Covid-19 hit, and yes I am happy this rules let's never reopen the clubs
  10. The classic Bay Street drink is: A full glass of vodka from the magnum some rainmaker bought through bottle service before dipping; Unadulterated because some drunk girls kicked the mix over when they just randomly stormed the VIP room; Taken without food because no one is sure whether we're staying here or joining the other group at the other club.
  11. Kinda-sorta. Those three specific practice areas aren't all the same. Most Bay Street firms don't do criminal defence, though some will have a white collar practice (and that's for a number of reasons including insurance, conflicts of interest, marketing, etc.), and most will not do human rights work (similar reasons and also structural difficulties within a billings-based partnership), but every firm has a huge civil litigation department. I'm a Bay Street lawyer and a civil litigator. Different firms do offer unique practices purely based on what partners work there. Many firms don't do, say, admiralty and transportation law; but some firms do have that one person bringing in millions every year dealing with serious transactions involving fleets. Others won't have a municipal law practice and others will make a killing on it. Law firms sign partners that make money. It's generally fair to say that your clients on Bay Street are corporations or HNWIs, but they don't all fit the same mold. Some of my clients are the people that made the computer you're reading this on, the pharma companies that made the last pill you took and auto companies with brand name recognition. Others are obscure but wealthy manufacturing concerns. One is a retiree with two rental properties that got into a tiff with his partners. A few more are tech startups. I have a handful of pro bono clients at any given time. I act for a few small pharmacists. Politicians. Special interest groups. Lobbyists. First Nations. So, yes, generally I work for "corporations", but that corporation could be a multinational or an Etsy collective. That's one way in which the firms do differ on Bay Street. Some act almost exclusively for legacy clients and Fortune 500 companies; others are far more open to welcoming new clients that may or may not end up being successful.
  12. I cannot effectively smuggle the babies; I am one with the babies. There is no secrecy, no clandestine carriage. They clamber, they are made of noise.
  13. My reference to being "buried in babies" was intended to allude to the fact that I am completely covered in them; that I have been caused to disappear or become inconspicuous by a volume of babies; that I have been moved or put out of sight by virtue of said babies; that I am overwhelmed beyond hope of recovery by babies; that I have been involved deeply with babies to the exclusion of other concerns.
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