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Diplock

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Diplock last won the day on June 28

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  1. Well, I'm not a large firm guy at all, so I'm off my turf by advising someone in your position. But I think this just became less about the legal marketplace and more simply life advice. What you seem to be saying now, which wasn't entirely clear in your first post, is that you wouldn't necessarily want to return to your present employer even if you were out of work entirely. Which really just means, you aren't happy there at all, and you're looking for an exit plan. Moving to a new job never comes with guarantees, maternity fill or otherwise. So if you're definitely looking to leave, this seems like it's a very good way to do it. Even if it doesn't turn out to be a permanent position, you'll be on the market when the economy is presumably looking better again, and you'll be unemployed in a completely honorable way, rather than even where you'd be right now, needing to explain you aren't happy where you are. Looks like almost all upside to me.
  2. I'm going to allow others who have more experience to veto anything at all I'm about to say, but as I understand it, one of the reasons why firms don't actually mind when associates go in-house is because it often cements a relationship with a client. Does the insurance company you are looking at going in-house with have a relationship with your firm, and supply the firm with meaningful business? If so, and if you aren't (as you say) considered a future rainmaker for the firm, they might actually be happy enough to see you transition to this new role - either temporarily or permanently. Which is to say, you may be in a position to have a reasonable conversation based on exactly the truth you've just laid out. You'd like to go, but you're concerned it might not be permanent, and if it doesn't work out you're happy enough to return. Is there the potential your current employer might be willing to take you back on that basis if it doesn't work out?
  3. It has also been suggested to me via PM, and not in an unwelcome way, that I may have gone a bit too far in making my own points. And for whatever it's worth, let me be clear, I am not currently employing an articling student and have not done so for some time. So the points I am making are hypothetical. And seriously, that isn't some kind of dodge, it's just the truth. When I refer to myself this thread, I'm inhabiting all soles, and not speaking directly to my own practice in explicit terms. All that said, this thread may have become too specific on several levels, and I've contributed to that. So I'd welcome mod attention. I happen to know for certain @phenomanimal is getting needed advice outside this thread now, and considering the OP was five years ago perhaps it's outlived its usefulness. And yeah, @Mountebank, and for future purposes, I really wouldn't want this to be the first thing Google finds either. LS.ca searches shockingly high on law-related topics, which is good for some purposes, but probably not here.
  4. Okay, I'm going to add one further point here, and leave it at that. I don't practice labor and employment law, and I'm frankly vague on the technical tests for employee vs. not. This point isn't about that, and neither were my previous posts either. It may be that it's actually pretty weak to define an articling student as a contractor. Maybe it could never pass close scrutiny. But that only means that it's wrong in a technical sense. God knows this happens all the time, that employers pay someone as a contractor who isn't really a contractor at all. Sometimes there might be something shady about that and it's intentionally exploitative in some sense. Often times, it's just easier. And that's my over-arching point here. This thread started five years ago and ironically I see I replied at the beginning and I did have concerns at that time. The arrangement felt, to me, more intentionally exploitative. But at the same time, this was five years ago and I have more experience of my own now. I also note that Adrian weighed in at the time and he actually is a labour and employment lawyer, and he thought it was workable. My major point is this. I don't like seeing articling students exploited. If that's the nature of the relationship, I have a problem with it. But quite honestly, those of us running small businesses, when we're in charge of HR, accounting, marketing, and every other damn thing all at once...we don't always do things the "right" way. And I know of literally no small business-person - in law or otherwise - who does. So I'm not even saying I'm "right" here. I'm just saying, even if I'm not, get the hell over it. And even suggesting going to the Law Society is fucking nuclear. Whether it's technically right or technically wrong, paying a student as a contractor isn't inherently exploitative, of itself. Once you accept that point (and on that point I'm 100% confident) the rest of my question becomes this. Are you really that interested in my bookkeeping?
  5. I wrote a longer post and lost it and now I'm grumpy about that. Short answer to this specific concern. Paying HST to a contractor, student or otherwise, costs a sole practitioner nothing. It's either HST the practitioner remits to the government at the end of the year, or it's HST paid to the contractor which reduces the amount paid at the end of the year, dollar-for-dollar, by an equal amount. And the government collects the same either way. So I'm not disagreeing at all that a student, or any other contractor, should get a HST number and should collect and receive HST properly, once they cross the threshold required (I believe it's $30,000 annually). But it's not the same concern some people here seem to think it is. I really can't see why any employer would withhold HST from a contract worker, unless that worker didn't have an HST number in the first place. There's no incentive to do so.
  6. You know, I'm not going to get extensively into this debate. I just want to say, the only judgmental and negative opinions I'm hearing here about the nature of structuring one's business are coming from full-time workers in large organized firms. In other words, the work that gets done to structure the business is never your problem. You just phone up HR and they do whatever HR does. Which means, quite frankly, that while everyone is entitled to an opinion, yours are uninformed here. In terms of making some complaint to the Law Society, everyone is certainty entitled to do whatever they think is right. And God knows I've seen the Law Society of Ontario, at least, spend their time policing some God-awfully stupid shit. But here's the reality you aren't considering. The Law Society begs lawyers like me to take on articling students. Because if we left it entirely to large firms to supply articles, the entire system would collapse. They need sole practitioners, who do not have payroll, HR, accountants, etc. to create positions, both because otherwise there is simply not enough, and also because sole practitioners need to come from somewhere, and believe it or not (as some seem not to believe it - importing an argument from elsewhere) not everyone who ends up sole somehow flunked out from larger firms. In fact the best way to end up with your own small practice is to learn from someone who has their own small practice. All of which is to say, I rather suspect the Law Society is concerned with the supervision of an articling student's work, and not with policing the business structure within which that work occurs. P.S. I was looking for a more appropriate example, btw, but this thread really does trigger me because I feel like it's a great example of lawyers from other forms of practice not getting the reality of mine, and judging lawyers like me for shit you wouldn't bother or ever need to bother with in a million years. So how about this. You have no problem with lawyers not paying their articling students at all (I mean, you tut-tut about how sad it is that anyone need article for free, but you don't consider it a problem necessarily) but you'd propose a Law Society complaint over the business structure within which a sole practitioner actually does pay their articling student. Get some damn perspective.
  7. I've read things that go to this before, and although I have no experience in it at all, it does sound like giving out "legal information" within the lines of what's allowable in Quebec would be incredibly unfulfilling. Put it this way, to tie this back to the original question. However much I may have pissed on it previously, I'd rather moot.
  8. I suppose I never replied to this. No one practicing criminal defence is well-adjusted. Hegdis is joking, but to riff of the joke in order to make a serious point, this discussion has implied there is a hierarchy in law where everyone aspires to the same things, and based on that you can tell who managed to reach the big leagues and who had to settle for a lesser career in legal practice. Now quite honestly, I won't deny there is some of this in some areas of law, though it's way muckier and more complex than people want to acknowledge and it absolutely can't be reduced to the nature of one's practice. For example, unskilled lawyers may gravitate to anything that works well in sole practice because if they can self-employ the fact that they suck may go largely undetected by their clients. But at the same time, lawyers who lack entrepreneurial skills may end up in large firms, as career associates, and this is another kind of "failure" depending on definition. There are generalities you can make about some areas of practice. And seriously, all joking aside, it's fairly safe to generalize most criminal lawyers as the misfits of law. It was one of my first lessons in articling, and it has stayed true. So I'm not saying it's unfair, inappropriate, or somehow unwelcome to at least try to figure out how and why certain lawyers end up where they are. This is useful information to people. And frankly, even when it's borderline insulting, it's not like I balk at insulting people. But honestly, there are lawyers in my area of practice who ended up doing what they do because they can't do anything else, and there are lawyers who have apparently similar practices who would never want to do anything else. And unless you look closely at the quality of their work, the difference would never be clear to an outside observer.
  9. @BQ - Context matters. And the arguments you are deploying here are exactly what causes me to boycott the "off topic" section of this site, and why I just stop participating in certain discussions. I'm not going to parse what I said and meant vs. what you said and meant. I know what I mean, and it's obvious what you mean. Even if we're using the same words, we're saying different things. And that's obvious. Picking out individual phrases and starting a debate about them doesn't help us at all, it just distracts from what is otherwise a meaningful discussion. Here's the bone I want to throw you, however, as everyone dog piles on you in a semi-deserved fashion. I don't think you actually disrespect what I do. I just think you don't understand it. Not remotely as much as you think you do. And the same goes for other, related areas of law. You work in an area of law (or aspire to - what year are you in again?) where success is defined by working for the biggest clients with the most money. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong (there's an equal danger I'm out-of-touch with other practice areas) but I don't think I am. That simply isn't true in other areas of law. You're trying to impose a rubric on poverty-type legal work that simply doesn't fit. And while you may come across as offensive, the only thing I find offensive about your posts on these subjects is that you can't accept that you really don't get what you're in no position to get. Ironically, this may be very helpful towards answering the OP's questions. Because this is the debate, in a nutshell. Law students want to imagine there's a hierachy in legal practice. They look for it everywhere. And even the ones drawn to "public interest" law keep chasing the dragon of prestige, like they think Amal Clooney might one day participate in OCIs and recruit them in the same way a Bay Street firm might do so. Here's the bottom line. Helping poor, vulnerable, and marginalized people is never prestigious. And you know why? Because prestige is a social construct. It exists in the minds of the people around us and nowhere else. And when you are working to help clients that most people don't give a shit about, there is absolutely no way to do that in a way that makes other people think what you do is important. Anyway, I'm done here. And honestly, the reason I rail against misconceptions in the minds of people like BQ who do or aspire to do mainstream business-type law isn't because I feel disrespected by you. I mean, most lawyers of that type probably don't respect what I do very much. But fuck em. I don't need or particularly want their respect. It's because there are students in law school, and on this forum, who need to hear from me much more than they need to hear from you. And I really don't give a shit what you think about my practice or of lawyers like me. I just wish you'd stop thinking you have it figured out, when you very clearly do not.
  10. Just to respond to this, I have no idea how the clinic you may be considering is structured, but at every clinic I've been involved with the work we were doing as students was overseen by lawyers who are familiar with and who do the same work. In other words, if you are doing anything reasonably classifiable as litigation, the lawyer who also does that work is a litigator. They may have moved into a staff role in the clinic system (depends on where you are and how structured, again) but I see no reason to dismiss their experience on that basis.
  11. I'll just note that if we're talking about a larger and sophisticated employer who has payroll already, then choosing to classify an articling student as a contractor is absolutely a strategic decision aimed at minimizing...whatever. People who understand tax and HR better than I do can comment on how it affects obligations on one side and the other. For a small shop, however, it may simply be the only immediate option. I have two people working for me. Both are classified as contractors, and I believe considering the degree of independence they are afforded this is a defensible arrangement based in truth. But it isn't so I can minimize CPP or whatever. I have no payroll arrangements set up. Maybe one day. But right now I'm just trying to keep my practice above water, and I simply don't have time to do more complex HR arrangements. Also, note that in my area of practice, teaching a student or a young associate to claim their own expenses, manage their own deductions, etc. is absolutely a responsible way to train someone. This is an area where the end goal is, really, self-employment. It's not just more convenient for me. It sets up the young lawyer to transition into their own practice more easily one day.
  12. If what you're saying about people who assist the poor and mentally ill is that we aspire to represent, you know, polite, intelligent, well-mannered poor and mentally ill people then yes, you are wrong. Your story is part of the daily reality of what some lawyers do, and what some lawyers have chosen to do. Is it the best part? No. No one loves changing adult diapers either. But it's part of a career that many people do love. It's fine you don't "get" public interest law. I don't really "get" Bay Street, and I know that. But man, you really just proved the point.
  13. Yeah, I recognize I was being overly simplistic. But I think you are also. When it comes to doing poverty-type legal work in clinics, it's true that you're doing lower end work on the spectrum. But a significant part of my practice today still involves the sorts of files I worked on while in law school. Just about no one in family, crim, immigration, etc. transitions into a practice exclusively focused on high-end cases. By contrast, the lower-end business law stuff is work that the average "business law" student or practitioner aspires to get away from as fast as possible. I mean, I'll accept correction if I'm wrong. But I don't think I am. So there's truth to what you are saying, but also truth to what I'm saying. Working with poorer clients in legal clinics is much closer to the reality of that practice, and closer to the reality that anyone aspiring to that kind of practice presumably wants and should be aware they are heading towards, than business law could ever be. And so it must, on that basis, be a more satisfying and genuine experience, no matter how well-run the business clinic may be.
  14. My preference for clinical experience over mooting is significant enough I'd have to call it a bias. In other words, I recognize that it goes beyond what's even rational. But I can't get beyond the cosplay aspect of mooting, as Cleanhands put it. I acknowledge there is research work and preparation and learning that goes into the preparation for a moot, and those are all valuable skills. But it all leads up to this experience where you are literally pretending to litigate. And whatever anyone may claim, this is what gets mooters all hot and lathered about it. I don't deny that faculty, some employers, etc. may also get excited by it. But I find it ridiculous. And it does have a lot to do with the sort of law that I practice. Bottom line is this. If your interests in legal practice involve clients with money and resources, the only way you'll get near that kind of work in law school is by pretending. Hell, as has been pointed out already, depending on the sort of work you're aiming for you may not even get much exposure to those clients as an associate, and so the ability to do research work for more senior lawyers is at a premium. I have no trouble believing that a business law clinic would be a joke. I've never seen one in action, but it's inevitably make-work because real business law clients aren't looking to be assisted by law students. The opposite, however, is also true. If you actually aspire to work with marginalized clients, there's no reason at all to play pretend at representing those clients. There is far more need than help available. And yes, clinic work is supervised by experienced lawyers who can teach you stuff as you do it. Is it fancy and prestigious? Hell no. Of course not. Neither is the actual work as a lawyer. But it's real. My instinct is to be snide here, but everyone needs to come to grips with this issue in their own way. There's no right or wrong answer. You can use your position as a lawyer to advance the public interest in various ways. But I'm going to tell you right now, you can't have everything. You can't work in the trenches where there is the greatest real need and at the same time expect to be treated like you're special. You can do great work on the front lines and eventually, at some point in your career, become recognized for it. But no one is going to put on a wine and cheese function so you can network with all the lawyers who represent the homeless and mentally ill, and they aren't going to show up and judge a moot where you play pretend at representing a client before the Consent and Capacity Board. No one has time for that. And no one is donating the money to pay for it either. My point is, make your choice, and find your priorities. I bring my own bias to this, but I'm confident I can say this much without bringing bias into it. You can't have it all ways, and you do need to decide what's more important to you.
  15. Well, you can either do law, or more prestigiously pretend to do law. I can't deny there are pros and cons associated with each, but it really is that simple to me. And the choice you make between them will definitely help you identify your priorities.
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