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adVenture last won the day on July 18

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  1. The going rate for large municipalities is around 37$ per hour, whereas the going rate for small municipalities (<300,000 people) is around 29$ per hour. The work week is 35 hours and you aren't usually required to work much longer than that. There are usually no benefits, although, there are some exceptions (the City of Windsor). For comparison, the salary is slightly higher than the provincial public sector if you work at at a large municipality, and slightly lower if you work at a small municipality. The workplace culture is very collegial and the work itself is sophisticated. Source: I articled at a small municipality; now work private practice doing municipal law.
  2. This is typical and I had to do the same. Look at your firm's precedents and you will do fine, it's both feet first into the fire (welcome to articling).
  3. Well, continuing my previous comment in this thread, it is not normal to be treated like shit, although, as an adult you are now responsible for the trajectory of your career. And there really is nothing left to say about your toxic workplace that hasn't been covered to death here. Without knowing the full details, except what you've communicated in this thread, at this point it is time to actually decide whether you are going to stay or quit. Again, I would be gobsmacked if situation at work became less toxic because -- at this point -- there is a pattern of behavior and a lack of improvement. So, if you're going to stay, be ready for more of the same. However, I don't think its productive to generalize the issues you are facing to the entire profession, though. What is happening to your friends has nothing to do with how you are going to solve your own problem. Contrary to some other comments in this thread, I think students are too willing to deal with crap because they are worried about a tight market, and whether they can get another job. There is no point in taking what you can get, if what you got won't prepare you to be a good lawyer, and if it kills your interest in the same. Now as an aside rant, one take-away from this thread for me is that I will never work as a junior at a small firm, and I'm glad I never have, although I've worked in numerous small in-house legal departments. At the risk of offending nearly everyone, I don't think I will ever understand the small firm mentality where sole practitioners think it is appropriate to download their business risks and stressors onto students. I don't give a fuck that you are stressed about making payroll in a difficult work environment (of your own choosing), have some common decency and stop pretending that it is your duty to welcome students to your self-generated school of hard knocks. It really is unbelievable to me that people in this thread are actually defending the conduct of a terrible boss. The fact that the legal field appears have about the same amount of dinosaurs as in the oil sands, with a resolute commitment to fossilized ideas of how a workplace should function, doesn't somehow excuse those ideas. While OP does come off as somewhat naive, and quite emotional (for good reason), blaming the victim is not acceptable to me.
  4. This post is going to provide you with some tough love, OP, because I went through something similar to you and got through it. I moved to a new city to attend law school. I graduated around 1-year ago. I had a reputation for being "a character" and made most of my friends by volunteering outside of law school. In general, the friendships I formed in law school (around 10) did not have the same depth as some of my friendships in high school and in my undergraduate degree. You are no longer a young adult, and the nature of friendships have changed; any expectation that you can slide into a new group of friends is unrealistic, given the 20-30 years of lived experience each of you now have (and the baked in differences therefrom). In addition, law schools tend to create an intimidating social environment. There is now more pressure on you -- and it does not help that persons in positions of authority have begun to breathlessly emphasize the importance of cultivating a "reputation." Accordingly, I think you are overthinking your social difficulties and projecting some kind of malice where there is none. I can assure with a high degree of confidence that most students feel isolated, alone, and somewhat adrift at this new stage of their academic career. I certainly did. The solution, however, is to stay the course and recognize that 90%+ of students will graduate from law school, where most of which will secure professional careers that will serve them well in the future. Regarding difficulties that you may have retaining materials from class, this is a normal problem that almost every student (except for those rare geniuses) go through until the week before exams. The material, individually, does not make sense because the principles you are learning in class only make sense, collectively. The material is also artificial because what you learn in law school has very little to do with being a lawyer, and more to do with being a scholar. By way of example, the purpose of summaries is to allow you to accumulate the "rules" in a manner that allows you to apply them to a complete fact pattern. Stated otherwise, you have been exposed to only one corner of a tattered portrait -- of course you can't see the entire picture, and you should not expect yourself to do otherwise. The good news is that almost everyone gets through law school. Like me and most others, you will end up being a student with a B or B+ average. And by achieving those grades, while relatively garbage in your undergraduate degree, will demonstrate that you understood the concepts and have proven your intelligence, commitment, and dedication to self-improvement despite bumps in the road. To make this clear, I almost dropped out of law school after my first month. My first semester grades were garbage because -- like you seem to be doing -- I stopped taking care of my mental health, in that I (a) ate poorly; (b) slept poorly; and (c) otherwise medicalized expected academic difficulties as evidence that I was an imposter and did not belong. Well, without knowing you, I can assure you that you do belong in law school because you were admitted in the first place; everything you are going through will be you a better person. What you need to do is treat law school like your undergraduate degree. The first year of law school is by far the most difficult, but you should be able to get through the material on a 50-study week. Your second and third year of law school will be a breeze by comparision (a common nickname for the third year of law school is 3LOL) To get through 1L, which I know you can, you need to start doing again what I assume you did in your undergraduate degree: (a) keeping usual business hours; (b) having a life outside of law school; and (c) physically taking care of yourself. Provided you put this time in, I believe that you will be able to do well enough to a job most people can only dream of. Good luck.
  5. There are a lot of recent topics on this website that you can review that discuss ways a new call can obtain employment. I was called in June 2019 and got my current job off of contacting a partner from a firm that was hiring in one practice area and providing him with an application package. I then did two interview with them, as per normal. Other people I know tended to do the same thing, rather than relying on Indeed, etc., just because it is so competitive and unless you are a superstar, it can be hard to distinguish yourself.
  6. I have two anecdotes. The first is about me; the second is about a friend. I did not change practice areas, but changed focuses. My friend changed practice areas. I'm a 2019 call. I interned and summered at firms and in-house legal departments that mainly did corporate transactional work. I couldn't get a corporate law articling position, and decided to focus on municipal/land development instead, which is somewhat like commercial real estate with a public law focus. The transition to articling was a little difficult at first because I went from all transactional work to mostly litigation, and then in a completely different area of law. It happened again, recently, when I changed jobs to a firm that does the same work, but now I'm doing a significant amount of transactional work again (real estate, roads, subdivisions, and so on) in land development, especially condominiums -- so I have to learn new statutes and related procedure. There have been challenges with getting back into the groove on both occasions, but at the same time the skills are transferable and its just a matter of putting in a little extra time to get up to speed. The point being that even in the same nominal practice area, as a junior your work will be dependent on the files you are assigned, which can be quite variable and leaves you always learning new concepts. There really isn't a settled "normal." My friend is also a 2019 call who works at the same firm with me, specifically in civil litigation. She summered and articled with firms and in-house legal departments that did quite a bit of estate litigation. Without unduly putting words in her mouth, she is finding the transition very difficult, in that she has to now buff up on common employment, commercial, and real estate claims. But, in general, firms provide new calls with a lot of leeway the first few months to get up to speed, and she is no exception. What she does is just ask other juniors for help (me), which doesn't mean getting people to do your work, but to point you in the initial right direction -- saving you a couple of hours of fruitless searching for something in the dark. In conclusion, it's not the work itself that may be a barrier to you switching practice areas. Once you are hired, a firm is pretty reasonable about on-boarding you for a couple of reasons: (i) juniors are an investment and (ii) hiring a junior is not cheap in the first place, so firms will give you the time to "mature." Maybe a bigger problem could be that, given the competitive nature of the legal market, human resources will just toss your application, if they don't see relevant experience on your cover letter/resume in the first place. A solution there could just be the usual networking to establish the rapport you need to demonstrate your interest/willingness to put in the extra time to learn. I did that by explaining (i) I want to transition from public to private practice because A, B, C; (ii) I can get back up to speed on my transactional skills; and (iii) I'm easy to communicate with and receptive to instructive criticism. As well, the nature of some practice areas (less institutional clients) means that lawyers will commonly dabble in real estate, civil litigation, family law, and other related practice areas for a while. In my opinion, being a lawyer in private practice is not about becoming a master of a particular area of law first, but getting paid to do legal work, whatever area of law that may be in your circumstances. If you are in a smaller jurisdiction, I've been told there aren't even enough clients to build a civil litigation practice without doing other areas of law -- usually family -- in the interim. A lot of this is common sense that I also ignored during my search for articles because I was worried about getting a position in the first place. You probably have a pretty good gut feeling about what you want to do, so I'd just go ahead and follow that feeling while staying realistic. Stated otherwise, if you don't want to do PI for the foreseeable future, don't. Just worry about picking up the skills you need to know to do good work, network, and the rest will follow.
  7. Plenty of small and mid-sized firms have business law practice groups. Without knowing much of anything about M&A, maybe civil/commercial litigation might be up your alley compared to more transactional work. There could be other alternatives that you might like. My practice is about 40/20/40 litigation, advisory, and transactional work for municipalities/developers in municipal and planning law. I enjoy it much more than pure transactional work I did summering at a private equity firm, even though the deals were in the millions (or billions), because the work is very dry. If you work government, you would probably get the opportunity to write policies or other laws. Big firms occasionally advertise few and far between positions during 3L, but I wouldn't count on it. But, there are plenty of 30-80 lawyer firms that hire during this time. Funny enough I just had a conversation with a colleague who mostly does condominium law about trusts. As far as he could tell, there really is no way to just do trusts, outside just occasionally seeing one as part of your usual practice. Good luck!
  8. This is not normal behavior. But, in general there seems to be an aspect of legal culture where it is okay for a partner to yell at a junior, a CEO to yell at any in-house lawyer, and etc., so it's not that far offside, relatively speaking and compared to other workplaces. I've experienced it, and a lot of people I've known have experienced it. Frankly, there is no silver bullet solution. At the end of the day, your articling principal is always going to side with his unreasonable wife, regardless of who is right and wrong. You are collateral damage. With all due respect to people who suffer from mental health issues, I would just avoid that assistant like the plague. I learned a lot from a legal assistant while completing my articles, so it is unfortunate you won't have that resource, but you will manage because you didn't get where you are because you are incompetent. I would just be ready -- if I was you -- to hit the first year associate market on the ground running at a new firm. Good luck.
  9. There are very few posted new call positions. When I was looking for mine, I attended conferences, asked friends if they knew anyone was hiring, and just sent out resumes to different firms. I had the most luck with the latter. Other people I have talked to haven't had much success applying to positions posted on Indeed, Eluta, Ontario Law Reports, and so on because there are few positions and many more applicants. It ended up being a colossal waste of time for me, but I didn't have vast knowledge in any particular area of law. FYI, you should probably work on your business/legal writing and avoid making stylistic choices in your writing that distract from the substance of it: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/ps/speeches/forget.htm.
  10. I went to law school with a university friend 1-year ahead of me, right out of undergrad. I think that was unusual, I don't remember anyone of my colleagues who knew each other before law school. We ended up drifting apart, but he gave me a few summaries and introduced me to a couple of people. I ended up making most of my friends in a 1L facebook group for law students and at a soup kitchen I volunteered at, where about 1/3 of the volunteers were other law students. You'll end up making different friends throughout law school and at the firms/government departments you work at during the summers. I'm also an introvert who also has some difficulty making new friends, although I've known my closest friends for about 15-years, and I was able to make a few good friends. You'll be able to do the same by virtue of group projects and study groups, even if you aren't big on socializing at bars, etc.
  11. I entered law school directly from undergraduate school and I look around 18-21 (I'm 27). I've never had an issue in the legal profession. Outside of it, most of the time people don't think I'm a lawyer until I've talked for a few minutes. I've never taken it personal because I've always looked young. I also don't subscribe to the culture of self-importance that some legal professions seem to have. Also, for what it's worth, most regular people I've met volunteering or at social events don't actually like lawyers, so I have no issue with being mistaken for someone else.
  12. The market for first year associates in Toronto is brutal. I almost moved to Alberta instead. One reason I did not accept a first year associate position in Alberta is because my area of law varies relatively substantially from province to province. Besides that, the biggest problem I faced interviewing in Alberta was just how impractical it was. Phone and video-conference interviews are less than ideal. I did not have the opportunity to network with people the same way as I did in Ontario, where I could just bite the bullet and drive 3-6 hours to get where I needed to be on a tank of gas, instead of on a plane. Just some food for thought.
  13. When I was articling in a small town in southwestern Ontario, population 55,000, there would occasionally be really slow periods for me when my department did not have a really pressing litigation file on hand. My articling principal would be busy with other work, and there wouldn't be an opportunity for me to ask for more work for a couple of days. During these times I would review forms and precedents, do some general reading to prepare myself for upcoming files, and would ask law clerks whether I could help them with their work. If I still had a few active or recently completed files, I would take extra time to write a more comprehensive memo and chuck it into a database that my department was building for general legal opinions. At first I would really stress out, but eventually you do enough 60-hour weeks that you accept a couple of 25-hour weeks is fine, and a normal part of the business cycle (and helpful for staying sane). This was in the legal department of a municipal corporation, so the structure is a little different than a firm, but I think the point is the same. You might consider trying to bring in your own clients, even just on a casual basis, from social spaces you participate in, which in a small town would likely be a church.
  14. You can get a list of interview questions that MAG offices ask candidates from career centres at law schools.You should ask your old law school for a list of those interview questions. In my experience, for criminal offices, MAG interview questions tend be completely substantive and involve questions about every aspect of being a Crown, with an emphasis on ethics. For civil and administrative offices, MAG interview questions tend to be slightly less substantive because the areas of law tend to be more narrow and not always taught in law school. The structure of both tends to include things like writing a memo on a case, substantive interview questions, and possibly a more formal oral presentation. In sum, you should expect that you need to study your materials as if you were studying for a formal law school exam. Edit: Different MAG offices have completely different interview procedures and can involve anywhere from 1-3 lawyers focusing on different areas of law (evidence, procedure, offences, or constitutional) with different interview styles. For example, I remember an interview of mine at the Brantford office being relatively informal in front of just one crown answering substantive questions. In contrast, an interview at the Peterborough office involved a case summary, oral presentation, and substantive interview questions in front of 3 lawyers.
  15. I don't agree with this. Literally the opposite happened to me, where my 1L grade in legal research was a C+, but my 3L grade in a legal research course I proposed to, and did with a professor was an A+. It opened a lot of doors for me that would have otherwise been closed because legal research is what you do a lot of as a junior lawyer. It also gave me a meaningful reference from someone very established in their field with a lot of respect (municipal law) -- this came up all the time and to this day I still keep in touch with this professor as a mini mentor. I would just worry about keeping busy; showing improvement; and demonstrating an interest, rather than overemphasizing the importance of clinical experience. I happened to also volunteer at PBSC and PBO during 2L and 3L, and none of my interviewers/employers ever seemed to care all that much about that experience. Edit: I'd also like to reiterate that most 3Ls who haven't secured articles in the summer of 2L, which was about 30% at my law school, usually find a great position somewhere else. This happened to a number of my colleagues. It's a very long recruitment process; just stay positive.
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