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Everything posted by Diplock

  1. Okay, here's the longer answer I've owed you. I'm not sure what path led you back to the NCA route after your stated plans to do something else, but clearly you've decided to practice law in Canada after all and, if I read between the not-subtle lines, you are anxious about how you are going to compete in this marketplace and how your qualifications will be received. And frankly, you should be anxious. You were an undistinguished student in undergrad, pursued some side-path into legal practice, and everyone you try to convince otherwise (at least everyone in a position to employ you) will know what's really going on. You will face an uphill battle to establish yourself in any kind of legal career. However. Here's a concession I don't often make to students who are eager to claim that the legal profession is somehow elitist for not giving every B-average student an opportunity to practice law. There are a host of qualities that go into making a successful lawyer and a successful legal entrepreneur (note - not the same thing) and only some of those rest on strong academic chops. IF you genuinely care about delivering the best legal services you can deliver, and IF you are willing to hustle your ass off, and IF you devote yourself to learning everything you need to learn even though it may frankly come faster and easier to some of your peers ... you can be a good lawyer. And you can have a great career. And if you make the most of every opportunity that comes your way you'll eventually move past the point where the origin of your degree matters at all. Students who want believe in quick fixes and easy routes around the hard work and the competition with their peers would gladly and brutally misinterpret what I just wrote. They want to live in some kind of child's fantasy where simply wanting something is some kind of qualification, and where they imagine being "fierce" is some kind of professional skill. As if yelling louder than everyone else in the courtroom, on its own, produces good outcomes. When I talk about genuinely caring more than the next guy, I mean that you wake up in the middle of the night needing to write down an idea about your area of practice that's been bothering you. I mean you think about your clients' issues in the shower. I mean you read articles about the law only out of interest. You CAN beat your way into this profession - even to near the top of it - through effort and determination. But it has to come from a genuine place. It isn't like you're Harry Potter pouring all his magic out at Voldemort, and overcoming him through sheer force of will. I say all that because despite the bitter way you've chosen to express it, you are at least displaying the first quality I need to see in a NCA candidate. You know what you need to overcome. So my words of encouragement are that it's possible to overcome it. See above, for what it takes. And good luck.
  2. Diplock

    1st Semester Grade Anxiety

    I'm tempted to write at some length, but the gist of it is this. Your overall grades are fine - on the above-average end. It's perfectly good and motivating to aim for better-than-fine. But you also shouldn't allow yourself to be affected by doing less well than that. You are entering a stage in your professional and academic life that's going to be new to you. You've succeeded to the point that you are now surrounded exclusively by other highly competent, motivated people. Up until this point, you've been used to routinely outperforming the large majority of the people around you. That's not going to happen anymore. But the good news is, even "average" students, at this point, do perfectly well in their careers. Aim for strong grades, certainly. But falling short of that is not a disaster by any stretch at all.
  3. I agree with you. And self-awareness of where you're starting from will serve you well. I'm going to follow with a much longer reply once I'm out of court.
  4. The bottom line is this. A lot of the weight of the NCA qualification rests on accepting the premise that graduates of foreign law schools were, in fact, educated at these foreign law schools. If this weren't the case, the bar requirements could be turned into challenge exams that even a layperson was entitled to take - which has been the case in the past, and may still be true in some places. So yeah. If you were hoping to shop around your NCA qualifications and say "look! I'm as good as a domestic graduate!" then well...that's a vain hope. There is a reason NCA applicants face distrust of their qualifications. There's a reason I discourage anyone from going the foreign route at all. Maybe you'll be the exception that proves the rule. If so, I wish you well. But at least now you see what you're up against.
  5. I think the OP is a foreign law graduate. And while I have some theories as to the source and basis of his frustrations, being bitter at losing out to some other foreign graduate isn't one of them. Note - if you're going to snark at someone, and want to do so on an informed basis, their forum history is your best source.
  6. Diplock

    Honest Opinion of the Dual JD at Windsor

    I have to admit. I have no idea if I'm being complimented or dismissed, here. Although, to be clear, I also agree with the remainder of your reply. That is, for those who can afford it (or are willing to assume the debt) the dual program gets you a Canadian law degree and puts you in a position to establish a career on near-equal footing with everyone else. I usually add a caution that recruiters appreciate the difference in strength from one law school to the next, which is why low-average students at U of T are unquestionably in a better position than low-average students at Windsor. But that's not to say a Windsor grad (or even dual) can't end up almost anywhere. It just means you shouldn't be complacent in terms of your need to compete. Get strong grades, put together a competitive CV. But if you do that, you'll be in good shape. This is exactly why Windsor has such a great scam going here. They overcharge like hell for an additional qualification that most of the people attending the program don't even want. I don't know if it was designed that way, but that's what they've ended up with. That said, it's still a far better option for any domestic student than going foreign, which is why they stay full and manage to attract a pool of applicants that's not much weaker than any other program / law school.
  7. Diplock

    Honest Opinion of the Dual JD at Windsor

    There IS no reason other than the exorbitant costs and the low admissions standards. Do you really need to look beyond those two factors for an explanation? Windsor grads do reasonably well in Canada because of the relative reputability of the Windsor program. The dual students are, to a degree, free-riding on the reputation of the stronger single program. The "extra" qualification that the dual program comes with is a drag more than a draw. There's no mystery here. The quality of a program is largely dependent on the quality of the students it admits. Pretending otherwise is stupid. That's like imagining if only weak students somehow got admitted to U of T, they'd end up as strong graduates and applicants after attending the school. That isn't true either. And so based on lower admissions standards, everyone knows what the Windsor Dual is - it's basically the lowest tier of law school graduates in Canada who actually managed to get in somewhere in Canada. Which is still better than those who go overseas for lack of domestic options. But that's another story. Take the program with the worst reputation - based on the objectively reasonable criterion that it admits the weakest students - make it cost more than every other program ... and you need some kind of special, hidden reason to explain why it's everyone's last choice?
  8. I have no trouble at all accepting that owning a single family home on a plot of land in the city has become progressively father out of reach for my generation than it was for the last, and this will be a trend that continues. Leaving aside arguments about interest rates and payments, we're talking about cities where the population is growing, intensification in terms of people per square kilometer is increasing as it inevitably must, and personal homes that aren't stacked in the air on top of each other (aka condos) exist in a finite supply that isn't growing and never will. So what in the bloody hell do you think is going to happen? People who want to look at former generations and consider only a single factor such as home ownership and complain that we are getting a raw deal confuse me. I mean, if you just want to complain, I get that. It sucks to not be able to afford a house if you want one. But if you actually want a generation-by-generation comparison, you need to take into account a lot of other factors also. And those get so complex it turns into a long conversation. But to start, how about life expectancy? How about the portion of that lifetime you can reasonably expect to be healthy and active? Based on every factor I can think of, I wouldn't want to have been born 50 years earlier. Would you? Anyway, some of the numbers thrown around here make me wonder also. They are either based in ignorance or willful exaggeration. But the basic idea isn't wrong. It's harder to own a single-family home, on a plot of land with a backyard, than it was for an average family 50 years ago. Note that expectations for what constitutes an adequate home (bedroom for every child, spare room for an office, big-ass kitchen, etc. etc.) have also inflated, that that's another topic. It is harder. I'm just not sure that proves anything, or is surprising in any way.
  9. Diplock

    Salary Negotiation Tips

    I don't even know what to say to this. Are you suggesting that the profession of lawyers somehow unionize as a whole (which is in an insane and ridiculous notion) or that associates at a large enough firm unionize (or "push together" as you suggest) against their specific firm? The later suggestion, while not insane, is still ridiculous. You're unlikely to find a stronger supporter of labour politics and collective bargaining than me on this board. But what everyone forgets about labour politics is that it arises explicitly to protect the rights of workers because they have limited individual bargaining power due to their interchangeability and disposability. To put it even less-generously, it's about lower-skilled workers. And it only makes sense in that context, because when you're trying to protect and promote everyone, you're basically saying "the minimum qualification to do this job is an ability to drive a bus. Everyone who can drive a bus should keep this job, absent some gross failure, and anyone who meets that minimum standard is doing the job equally well." Compensation, job security ... everything moves in lockstep according to this basic framework. That IS what collective bargaining is based on. There is a reason that collective bargaining doesn't apply to management, and doesn't apply to higher-skilled professionals. It stops making sense. It's irrational to say that a financial analyst is equivalent to every other financial analyst as long as he or she can do X and Y, and that based on this minimal ability everyone is de facto equal after that. It's irrational to say that about doctors or lawyers or engineers. It just isn't true. Lawyers bargain individually because they are individual. You can't promote your own worth in a firm while at the same time arguing that your worth is equal to Larry's worth, just because he's also employed there, when Larry may well be an idiot. It can't be done. I don't know if you even realize how non-sensical what you are saying really is. Organized labour politics has an extremely important role to play in ensuring that workers are appropriately compensated. But there's a point beyond which it stops working or applying to certain professions, and it should stop working also. Lawyers are all compensated very well, as a group. It may be hard to find a job in the profession for some people, but anyone who is employed as a lawyer is making a good income in Ontario, ranging all the way up into the top 5-10% of all income earners. It's unreasonable to expect to unionize the profession such that ... what? No lawyer earns less than $100,000/year? Make sure that everyone is equally able to afford a cottage and a boat? What are we even talking about here? In the legal profession, we all reap the benefits of being highly skilled and marketable professional who are not interchangeable with anyone else who just happened to graduate from law school. If we were that disposable and replaceable, we'd earn a lot less - whether employed at a firm or self-employed. If the market as a whole behaved as though I could be replaced with just anyone licensed to practice law in Ontario, my value to my clients would plummet. That's not what we are. We reap the benefits of that, and we have to accept the costs of it also. And the costs are, you're only worth what you can actually command from the marketplace and/or from an employer, and it's pointless to argue otherwise. Also, you need to advocate for yourself, because the profession cannot advocate collectively when we are implicitly in competition with one another.
  10. Diplock

    Salary Negotiation Tips

    By definition, any job in the for-profit sector is structured in a way that you generate more value than you are paid in wages, and the owners of the company profit as a result. If you think that's inherently exploitative, there are people who'd agree with you - Karl Marx, most particularly. But unless you intend to take aim at capitalism as a whole, I think your outrage is a bit ridiculous, here. If you don't want to work for other lawyers then work for yourself. Law affords you that opportunity. If you can't or won't do that, stop complaining that someone else profits off your work. You are no more exploited that any other employee, and far less than most.
  11. Diplock

    Have I ruined my chances?

    I didn't see this initially. Frankly, OP's detailed questions are a bit of a smokescreen, because he (or she) isn't really at the point where those sorts of details even matter yet. So I'll concentrate on the thing that matters right now. You are treating your academic challenges as a problem that exists independent of any external factors rather than a consequence of other problems. And with due respect to whatever mental illness you've just identified and are hopefully having treated, I find it very unlikely that you're going to pop a few pills or whatever, and on that basis alone transform yourself from a student who is getting grades in the mid-C to low-B range (which is where you are now), into a student getting straight A's (which is where you realistically need to be for law school). Instead, I'd really encourage you to look at your decision-making to this point. You took biology classes for what - three years? I assume you were telling yourself the whole time you would go to medical school. And yet, it would have been obvious to anyone paying attention that from your earliest term in school you weren't heading in that direction. So you ignored three years of evidence, then decided to take the easiest program available because you hoped it might get you into law school - law school being the apparently (focus on apparently) easiest option left for a professional degree that might somehow make up for not being a doctor. Now am I far off the mark? Doing things for silly and superficial reasons is not a recipe for success. I have no idea what your academic abilities might really be. But no matter what your best looks like, you're not going to perform at your best simply because you sorta care about finding a job that your parents can tell their friends about, and you want to make money, and ideally not work too hard to get there. I mean seriously. You're talking about professions here that people work their asses off to get into, and you are competing with them with a level of enthusiasm that has you poking your head up out of the sand every few years and finally acknowledging that you've been fucking the dog the entire time and it's just not happening. Figure out what you actually want to do. Find some good answers. And for the love of God, when people point out that your answers suck, don't ask them what your answers should be. This isn't a test to try to find something that's going to impress an admissions committee. People are asking you what your actual reasons are, and trying to point out that those reasons have clearly been insufficient to motivate you to date. And if they've been insufficient so far, there's no reason to imagine that's going to magically change only because you are now associating those reasons with law school. Find truer and better reasons to do whatever it is you want to do - whether it be law school or otherwise. Because your grades are a symptom, not an independent problem.
  12. Diplock

    Law School Deferrals

    My view is this. Law schools want the best class of students they can get. Whether they do or don't let you defer is based on their interests. Remember that and the rest makes sense. They will discourage you from deferring and may well even tell you it won't be granted. Why? Because if they've admitted you this year you're better than whoever they'd get if you decline, and they want to lock you in. If you ultimately do decline and request a deferral, however, they'll look at you and ask this basic question. Are they more-or-less sure you'd get in anyway, next year? If yes, you'll get your deferral regardless of whatever they implied earlier. Why? Because if they can't have you this year, they still want the best class possible next year. But if you're marginal, the same reasoning may force you to reapply. Hope that helps.
  13. Diplock

    Discussions on Reddit?

    Yeah. This isn't a downside. This is exactly what stops this website from being the mudpit of unverifiable crap that is most of the rest of the Internet. The fact is, communities like this only work as dictatorships. Benevolent dictatorships flourish. Less positive communities do not. But the notion that there could be some kind of anarchist wonderland with absolutely no one in charge of saying "this guy is an idiot who doesn't belong here" and anyone who wandered here would behave responsibly and self-moderate ... that's simply not realistic. I'm not a fan of the off-topic here myself, but if people want to discuss it in a moderated setting because they prefer to avoid random idiots elsewhere ... I don't see why they should be prevented from doing so. Or are you really suggesting that it should be a rule of the Internet that people are not allowed to discuss random topics in moderated communities? I mean, are you actually suggesting that in the name of freedom we should prevent people from voluntarily subjecting themselves to rules in order to have the kind of discussions they want to have?
  14. Diplock

    Are You Happy With Your Income?

    It really comes down to this. Aspiration is good. Ambition is good. Being able to identify what you are striving for, in the future, is motivating and positive. But if you're at the point, now, where not having the things that you want and believe you deserve is making you unhappy, and unable to enjoy the things that you do have, that isn't motivating and positive anymore. It's poisonous. Do you even see how this conversation developed? You started out by asking people if they were happy with their incomes. That's an interesting and valid question. Lots of attitudes were floated. But it's quickly turned away from seeking strategies to be happy and now you're basically spending your energy trying to convince people who are happy already that they shouldn't be. How in the world is that a good use of your energy? How does it help you? Contrary to popular myth, misery doesn't really love company quite so much that convincing anyone else to be unhappy with you will do you any good. Happiness is a state of mind. It doesn't need rational justification nearly as much as you believe. Unhappiness is often irrational. Happiness can be too. It isn't the absence of ambition or desire. It's simply being satisfied with what you have while you strive for whatever more you want. I really do believe that the bigger part of your problem is not income, it's the inability to see a path forward. Which is why I'm relating this to sole practice and practice in criminal law. Associates can see the next raise coming, the next bonus, and a clear (if difficult and uncertain) path to potentially making partner. Lawyers in many other positions see a similarly clear line of advancement in their profession. A sole practitioner doesn't have that. That isn't to say there's no hope and no progress. You become more senior, more efficient, attract better clients, command more and higher private retainers. It does happen over time. Not at all guaranteed of course, but neither is anyone else's career path either. The real problem is, it's so abstract. In any given year you might even take a step back and earn less than the previous year. Every frustration and failure can seem like a sign it's never going to get better. It is genuinely quite hard to stay motivated in a practice like that. Like ours. And I think that's your real problem. Relating this back to income, I could give you all a list of the strange shit I did to make money before I got into law. And yes, that's part of what keeps me appreciative of the work and the remuneration I enjoy now. At the risk of using the p-word again, understanding privilege isn't about apologizing for what you have (not when it's earned, anyway) or about being mindlessly satisfied and devoid of ambition (see above) but simply about keeping in mind, in at least some conscious way, what you have and enjoy relative to other people. Keeping this in mind isn't a burden. It's a gift. It's part of what makes me happy and keeps me happy. You know I visit clients in jail regularly. And every time I leave, I am fucking grateful I get to leave. Maybe this will finally make the point I'm striving for above. Surely no one here is so irrational as to imagine I mean to say "everyone who isn't incarcerated should just be glad they aren't in jail and shut up about everything else." That is not what I'm saying. I'm saying that seeing on a daily basis how bad it could get makes me glad for what I have. I'm not trying to argue with your unhappiness. I'm not. But truly, I'm confident of two things. First, that I have the better side of the argument if we must have one. Because relative to the great mass of humanity, we are all doing incredibly well. Individual circumstances vary and you can always spot someone who has more and has it better - or at least seems to. But if you're only looking up you're missing the point. Think of all the damn people looking at you and wishing and praying they could have a fraction of what you have. Again, not an argument you should stop striving. Just that you should be grateful for where you are already at the same time. And second, I am confident that you would be better off if you saw things as I describe them, rather than letting some inflated sense of what you deserve undermine your ability to enjoy what you have. You'd feel better, and you'd likely be more successful in the end too. Content and motivated people do better than unhappy and frustrated people. Dissatisfaction is not an advantage in life. It's truly not the same thing as ambition, which I still have in spades. In all events, best wishes in the New Year.
  15. Diplock

    Autism + Suits

    You know, I realize where and how this conversation turned. It's the OP who mentioned that he only occasionally sees clients. But just to defend my original point, there's like five people in a row who just said "oh, only when you go to court" and there's absolutely no one trying to square that statement with someone who's saying he can't ever wear a suit. So let's be clear what we're talking about, here. I'd have a hell of a lot of trouble hiring someone I can't ever send to court. And I also don't want to hire someone who's going to have to have a discussion with every judge and JP they ever appear before about why they showed up in blue jeans. In our rush to be sympathetic here (and seriously - who wants to tell the autistic person they can't be completely accommodated - me I guess) I fear we're misleading the OP. Suits can be avoided much of the time, yes. But there are very few jobs where they can be avoided all the time. Oh, and let's not even get into what the OP is going to do if he ever needs to go to Superior Court! There's nothing wrong with minimizing situations where you need to wear a suit, and obviously you can and should have that conversation with an employer, who I would hope will accommodate you as much as possible. But there will almost certainly be some occasions where a suit is non-optional. You should have a solution for those occasions also.
  16. Diplock

    Creative Resumes

    Well, now I look dumb. I saw the picture and the format. Didn't even skim content. Though it's still a bad idea Damn though. She looks good for a CEO! And I don't mean pretty, blond, and female. I just mean she doesn't look like she lives only for her job. Maybe she does and maybe she doesn't - but she manages not to look like it, and that's something. Anyway, your CV in law is an opportunity to prove that you "get it" and that you can do "it" well and competently. Outside of a very few niches areas of law (such as small practices, possibly, as I allowed above) it isn't an occasion to demonstrate how you figure you're the exception to every rule.
  17. Diplock

    Creative Resumes

    Unless you're at the point of applying for jobs with sole practitioners (at which point doing anything, even something strange, that stands out in a pile could be an advantage) I do not recommend doing this. Among other things, the photo sends a terrible message. "Hi, I'd like to work at your law firm as a lawyer, but despite the fact that you routinely advise clients on matters relating to HR and human rights, anti-discrimination, etc., I'm just going to go ahead and assume that you don't follow the same advice you'd give your clients." I mean seriously - do you think it's a coincidence that this template you've linked to has a picture of a pretty blond girl? Yeah. Don't do this.
  18. Diplock

    Are You Happy With Your Income?

    Let me chime in here, as someone who practices this daily. I could spend a lot of time thinking about what does and does not keep my clients happy (which is a thing worth thinking about - though my problem is finding the time with all the work I have piling up, so I'm probably doing more right than wrong) but I want to be clear about one thing. My clients do not understand what I'm doing for them. It's a real issue in criminal law. It's why objectively bad lawyers who are nevertheless good entrepreneurs (with all that implies) are able to keep a string of clients coming and coming back to them. You can be a criminal lawyer standing in front of the court with your client sitting two feet away from you, screwing up in real time, and most clients wouldn't be able to see it. It's a problem that exists, I'm sure, in all areas of law. But it's worse, not better, than most, in crim. Frankly, I don't know why this is even a point of debate. Here's what I consider to be obvious and uncontroversial starting assumptions: 1. The law is a complex and multi-faceted environment. It's not easy to understand for anyone, in real nuance. The broad strokes, maybe. But the real gist, and the stuff that matters, almost no layperson is going to get. 2. No areas of law are really simple. There are occasionally simple and straight-forward issues and situations, but no area of practice, as a whole practice area, is an exception to the assumption above. 3. To the degree that anyone stands a chance of getting most of it, sophisticated clients are more likely to get it. So, combining these several assumptions (and if you're going to argue with any of them, please tell me how and why) we end up here. Criminal law has many, many unsophisticated clients. Even the more sophisticated clients (say, an educated professional accused of impaired operation) is still ignorant when it comes to criminal law. It's not like you're a solicitor dealing with an insurance company who routinely interacts with lawyers. So in a sea of unsophisticated clients, in a complex area of law (because they all are) why would you imagine clients know what's going on with crim? The only reason anyone thinks that, that I can fathom, is that the consequences are fairly apparent. As in, you go to jail, you don't go to jail, etc. But that's an incredibly simplistic way of looking at criminal law. That's exactly the simplicity that clients bring, and which is why they don't understand what's happening. One guy "wins" a case and thinks his lawyer is great, even though it's a case that a monkey could have won. Another guy "loses" and after a ton of persuasion takes a deal and pleads guilty, but it may be an incredible deal that's saved him substantial jail time and he just can't see it. A third guy gets walked into a deal that's terrible, only his lawyer talks it up and convinces him it's great. The first and third clients may leave happy, and the second leave unhappy. I can't say it enough times. Clients in criminal law do not know what's going on the over-whelming majority of the time. At the risk of getting preemptively prickly, I consider it obvious and apparent that my clients aren't particularly sophisticated. Do you really think there's no nuance to what I'm doing? Why in the world do you think that my client knows if I'm doing it well or not? This isn't even arrogance. I'm defending an auto mechanic later today. If he were fixing my car, I wouldn't have a clue what he was doing. And there's a reason people get ripped off by mechanics also.
  19. Diplock

    Are You Happy With Your Income?

    You know, this may be a bit of a distraction to the overall topic. But if living like a student and living on a median provincial income feel similar, and are in fact similar, then something is wrong with one or both of those experiences. And I really think that the problem has more to do with student lifestyle at this point. I mean sure, the median provincial income can/should be higher also. But when students are living in their own apartments, eating out regularly, and carrying on fully independent lifestyles that aren't being sustained on their own income but are, rather, paid for either by taking on debt or out of someone else's (presumably their parents') pockets ... that's just not normal. I won't claim I'm the patron saint of fiscal restraint. But when I lived like a student, I lived like a student. Not like an employed adult making an average income. There can and should be a difference between those two things.
  20. There is nothing wrong with doing a law-related undergraduate program if that's your genuine area of interest. I would seriously spend some time considering what you would do with this degree if you don't end up going to law school - either because your plans change or because you simply can't get in - but other than that issue there's nothing wrong with the program. At the same time, there's nothing right about the program, and it won't give you an advantage of any kind. The reason I believe students think these programs are "looked down on" or whatever is simply this. There is by far a greater percentage of unsuccessful applicants to law schools coming out of these programs as compared to any other. The reason is obvious enough. A very small number of students coming out of physics (to use a random example) are applying to law school at all. Of those that do, most are students who have been very successful and who realize, at some late stage, they want to go to law school. It's not that law schools specifically want physics undergrads. But of those that apply to law school anyway, they are likely to be strong candidates. Meanwhile, students who already took a "pre-law" undergrad ... those are students who are applying to law school no matter what. They apply even though they ended up with a 2.0 GPA. They apply with their 150 LSAT. And then they say "law school didn't want me because I took the wrong undergraduate program." The same effect is shown with LSAT scores. Somewhere, there's a study that shows that students from what might be termed "pre-law" programs do terribly on the LSAT. Worse than just about anything. But it isn't because the programs themselves are bad. It's because even the really bad students who are in those programs insist on writing the LSAT, even when it's obvious they shouldn't. Don't get sucked into the stupidity that's rampant among "pre-law" clubs and "pre-law" students. You will find plenty of students who will swear up and down that they are heading to law school because they have awesome extra-curriculars and volunteer each summer for the local Member of Parliament who is writing them a killer reference letter etc. etc. etc. The fog of delusion is pretty thick. Get the grades and get the LSAT and you'll be heading to law school, if you still want to, when you're done. All the rest is a matter of personal choice.
  21. Diplock

    Finding the right career path for me?

    I once described the weather as "oppressive" in the company of a social justice type, and I was dressed down for using a word that refers (in her mind) only to how some people are oppressed by other people. There are some who just genuinely lack a breadth of vocabulary and a sense of poetry in usage. They imagine that words are always deployed the same way, and with the same connotations. I could read Steve, above, as being snide in a deliberate way. It isn't hard. But honestly, I believe it hasn't occurred to him that sometimes people say "privilege" to refer to socially constructed advantage, and sometimes the word is used much more generally, such that someone could just have a "privileged vantage point" meaning they could see something better. I've remembered that oppressive story for years and years. I think of it often - any time I use a word in a less-than-typical way. But then, it's also true that for someone with an axe to grind, almost anything can look like a grindstone.
  22. Diplock

    Are You Happy With Your Income?

    You'll learn, kid. Not that your values will change, necessarily. They may well not. But you'll learn that standing with your arms folded, and dismissing what the rest of the world says and does, doesn't make you seem smart or worldly or in-the-know. It just makes you seem childish and petulant. And who knows? Maybe you'll find a real estate magnate with political aspirations who'll actually pay you a lot of money and be impressed with your act. Most likely not. Generally speaking, the legal industry rewards maturity and perspective. Seriously though. If you're done, I'm done. But I went through phases as a young man when I was insufferable, in a Holden Caulfield sort of way even, which is why I persist in my view that almost anyone can learn to listen if you just shout at them enough. The legal industry is not kind to know-it-alls. The best and most experienced lawyers I know - I'm talking about the ones who edit the texts we all consult when we want to know things - are modest self-effacing people. They would never pitch half the attitude that students like you walk around with. Anyway, good luck. I learned eventually. Maybe you will too.
  23. Diplock

    Are You Happy With Your Income?

    Oh for God's sake. Bullshit. Bull-fucking-shit. And Holden Caulfield is the protagonist from Catcher in the Rye, not some kind of secret socialist signal-point. There's nothing wrong with an intelligent reference now and again to remind us that the law relies upon intelligence and breadth of knowledge as well as ambition and greed to drive it. There are complaints all the time about the culture in law school, and they come from all sides. Certainly there are plenty of students who are turned off by an excessive focus on "business law" as the only path into legal practice that's ever really discussed. I was one of those students. And it isn't because I hate money. It's just because I wanted to do something else. If you think my entire life is a monument to virtue-signaling that I've deployed only to bother you, I suppose you're free to hold that view. But truly. I don't care about you that much. The only people I hear complaining that their ambitions to wealth, power, and even more privilege than they started with are not appropriately validated in legal culture - those people want a "greed is good" philosophy and nothing less will do for them. And it's almost always students, not lawyers, who have this ridiculous need. Lawyers with at least some exposure to the real world learn nuance. Even the ones I still disagree with deploy more reasonable arguments. It's only the students who seem to want to hear "we all know that law school is to make the most money possible, and nothing else, and anyone who pretends otherwise is lying to make you feel uncomfortable." There IS more to life than money. If it bothers you to hear that, I'm sorry. Hearing what you believe in doesn't make me angry or uncomfortable. It just makes me sad. If it bothers you to hear what I believe in, that's something to consider in that quiet time, which could honestly be improved by picking up a book now and again. Law school is a confusing time for many people. Despite the fact that everyone comes into law school in their early-mid 20s, and some much later than that, we're all still at a formative stage and trying to figure out what we're doing with our lives. I understand that it can be frustrating if the ideas you came in with aren't what you're hearing about in the hallways and the classrooms. It can even be terrifying. You've taken this huge and expensive leap into the unknown, and anything that makes you wonder if you make the right decision or not ... that's huge. The way to deal with this, however, is to learn more and to at least be open to the discussion. Not to have your mind changed, necessarily (though openness needs to include that possibility) but just so you understand what's out there. Legal culture is complex and multi-layered. And it's absolutely true that nearly everyone has strong opinions. Do you want to understand the profession you're joining and the other people in it? I know I want to understand it, and I'm still learning more about it, years later. Dismissing people who say things that bother you as being fake and insincere is a cheap way to avoid even grappling with what they are saying. And it exposes more about you than it does about them, that even people holding an opinion you disagree with somehow threatens you so much that you need to believe the opinion itself isn't real. Why? I'm sorry for the pop psychology, but that's just extreme. Learn more about legal culture and make an informed decision, either way. But 1L isn't a time for anyone to be sure they know everything and to tell off everyone who disagrees with them. It's a time to learn.
  24. Diplock

    Are You Happy With Your Income?

    I think the starting question here was both original and interesting, and so it's a shame this discussion has so quickly spiraled into the usual patterns. I'll answer the original question first, before I contribute to further derailment. Speaking as a criminal defence lawyer in sole practice, I am happy with my income at present. It's also improved lately. I wasn't unhappy with it previously, but I can see how I might have become unhappy with my income before too long if it was entirely stagnant at the level it was at with no clear path to improvement. And that is, undoubtedly, one of the frustrations and difficulties with self-employment. When you work for someone else there are milestones clearly in front of you. If nothing else there's the reasonable and rational prospect of an annual raise that should be by at least some small margin greater than inflation. When you work for yourself ... well, Legal Aid hasn't raised their tariff rates in several years now. So if you do a lot of Legal Aid and aren't working more or bringing in more private clients, you're actually making less in real terms every year. That's got to hurt. I don't want to speak too specifically to criminal defence right now, and in practical terms I know very little about personal injury law or what the income is like. But I will theorize that part of the difference is between self-employment in crim and working in an organized firm in PI. Because PI is certainly not "Big Law" in a true sense, but it's bigger than crim. Working as an associate locks you in at a reasonable mid-point. A firm has to pay associates at least reasonably well or no one with even half a brain would take the work. But I wonder about the upper-end prospects for anyone who doesn't become a partner or start their own practice successfully - and launching a practice in that field is still harder than crim. Meanwhile, the entry point for crim and the entry-level income is lower. But when you're doing your own thing in crim you can end up with a very good income in the future, and beholden to no one. I'm not talking only about the Marie Heneins and the Alan Golds. There are a lot of higher end criminal lawyers that no one outside the field has heard of that earn very good incomes. Their practice isn't flashy but it is lucrative. And for whatever it's worth, it's a hell of a lot more dignified than PI work. At some point KingLouis and I might take this off-line, because the rest of what I have to say would be very specific. But just because you can't easily see the path forward in sole practice doesn't mean it isn't there. I'm hardly an authority on this topic. But I'm far more confident than I was in the earliest stages. Now on the topic of the derail, I'll just say that shawniebear's tone rubs me the wrong way also, but he's at least put his finger on the real issue. He says that what's good enough for most people - even the large majority of people - is simply not good enough for him. That's fine. I mean, it isn't an attitude I can easily deal with when it's stated so nakedly and embraced so fully, but let's at least allow that he's set a starting point for his assumptions. If you feel the only way to live properly is to have far more than most people around you, then it's certainly your right to pursue an income appropriate to your "needs." But I think it's also more respectful to state these self-identified needs as such, rather than implying that most everyone else around you are stupid losers who have settled for table scraps and lives of failure. To be perfectly honest, I'd have a lot of trouble going back to a "normal" income myself, now. But I also know that I could do it if I had to, and it wouldn't make me miserable. There's so much more to life than money. And it's a privilege to be able to say that, and to focus on things in life that aren't about food, shelter, immediate safety, etc. But that's a privilege we all enjoy even on what passes as a modest income in Canada. Once those safety needs are taken care of, it's simply wrong to describe the rest of what you want as a need of any sort. It's a priority you choose to have. And if that's where your priorities lie, that's your choice and I'm really not going to suggest you need to apologize for it. But I will say that these priorities inevitably compete with other priorities, and as I point out often when you focus on X you invariably need to give up Y. Money has a way of obscuring that trade-off sometimes, and it can be dangerous. Don't lose sight of what you are passing up to earn more money. I guess it comes down to this. There are people in law - even a large number, I suspect - to whom earning potential is a huge draw into the field. Again, I truly won't denigrate them as a group. But when you introduce their attitude into a discussion as though it's the only reasonable way of looking at income at all ... yeah, that's going to start arguments. It implies that a lawyer who isn't making a large income (large by any ordinary definition) is somehow a failure. And I know lawyers who live very modest lives but have successful careers by any definition I care to apply - they are busy, respected, fulfilled, and do important work. Does it really matter so much if they go home to a rented apartment? Maybe it matters to you. But don't imply that they're wrong and you're right. And also, I work with and represent clients, quite often, who just don't have much. I know I'm more successful than they are. I know I have far more. But I don't feel better than my clients. I truly don't. I'm not a superior breed of human being who needs to spend $8 on a cup of coffee every time they spend $2. If I felt that way, I couldn't do my job properly anymore. Anyway, that's it.
  25. My experiences were similar. Most NCA applications I receive go directly into the garbage on their merits, or lack thereof. Meaning, the inability to put together even a professional application package demonstrates to me they are functionally unemployable in law. The remainder usually ends up in the garbage too, because I have limited time to interview people and when all is said and done, my experience with NCA applicants does colour my view of the whole. I'd rather spend my time interviewing domestic graduates, generally with demonstrable interest and exposure to my area of practice. I won't said I'd never hire an NCA grad. Just it isn't likely, and they'd have to overcome a lot of negative associations I have to even get their foot in the door. I do have a close colleague who gave a student a chance in one of those 16-week (it's around 16 weeks, anyway) placements that they have, and he was not impressed. Look, like Hegdis, I'm willing to embrace the likelihood - even the certainty - that there will be exceptional cases. Over a large enough pool of data points, it is all but inevitable that there will be students who obtained their law degrees overseas and at schools with bad reputations and nearly no admissions standards (Bond's stated requirement for Canadian applicants is a 70% average in undergrad - meaning that the large majority of any graduating class could gain acceptance there) and yet for whatever reason there's a diamond in the rough. Some otherwise capable student happened to bloom in law school, or truly did make some ill-informed decision to study overseas for the culture or whatever, or who the hell knows. Exceptions will occur. But they are the gross exceptions, not the norm. Any time the issue comes up on this forum, I'm outspoken, but I think people generally miss the main thrust of my point. On an individual level, I'm not saying that no one should ever go to a foreign school and pursue the NCA route. For a specific individual, it may be a reasonable option. That individual may even be one of the exceptions noted above. It's when I encounter the generalized defence of foreign law programs, foreign law graduates, and NCA applicants that I tend to lose my shit. Because truly, Bond is recruiting just about anyone who managed to get out of an undergraduate program and not fail half their courses. Anyone who imagines that class is filled with talent, and that the only difference between students at Bond and students in the highly competitive schools we have in Canada is that Bond students have somehow lacked opportunity - that's just batshit crazy delusional. And I firmly believe that the only chance a student has, going for the foreign route, is to start the whole process aware that they'll be surrounded by academically mediocre peers, and prepared to benchmark their performance with the expectation that they can, and should, by at or near the top of every class. Because anything less represents failure. Defending the whole class at Bond, or anywhere, is antithetical to the attitude needed to succeed. It's quite literally indefensible. You need to rise above the mass around you - not pretend that the class is made up of great students. It simply is not. Anyway, that's it.