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widget last won the day on December 16 2013

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  1. The only international schools worth attending are big-name schools - HYS or Oxbridge - which can open doors for you on their own. But if you can get into any of those, you'll get admitted to a Canadian school. Any school willing to admit you if you can't get admitted domestically isn't a school worth attending. Best case scenario: you go abroad, get the degree, and don't face too much difficulty getting accredited to practice and finding a job. There are a lot of ways for that path to go wrong, particularly when it comes to the "finding a job" component.
  2. I live a very short distance from the office, and usually only eat lunch out once per week. Easiest way to arrange it is to make enough at supper to have some left for the next day, or make a couple of quick-to-reheat things in advance.
  3. If you can be a generalist in Timmins or Kenora, you could do it in Toronto as well. I would think the market would speak on that, though, if specialist counsel was a five minute drive away.
  4. Specialization is a luxury of larger centres. If you practice in a small town, especially if it's a far-flung location, you're a generalist. The market will not sustain specialization, and few people will pay the added cost to have specialist counsel travel, unless it's a major offence. The comparison is rarely specialized counsel v. jack-of-all trades; it's general counsel v. self-repping. (Note: I pick on the example of criminal/family for this - not so much for real estate, which requires some degree of dedication and staffing if you're going to do it.) Generalization isn't necessarily "dabbling", insofar as picking up a random case once in a blue moon, but maintaining a low-volume practice in an area. It may be a fine distinction, but doing a couple of criminal matters per month which, alone, wouldn't pay the bills, is different than spending ten years doing real estate transactions and deciding to darken the door of Provincial Court for the first time because "why not?". There's nothing wrong with general practice, but you have to know your limitations, and know what you don't know.
  5. I do criminal defence, so the quotes are there for a reason.
  6. Government jobs have pensions, no clients to schmooze/put up with/be at the mercy of, and stable guaranteed income. Crown prosecutions are especially sought after, since you're on the "good" side, get lots of court time, and don't have to deal with the dregs who get charged with crimes. If you want to practice criminal law, want a guaranteed paycheque for doing it, and don't want to sit down with criminals one-on-one, then prosecution's where it's at. So to answer your question: yes, I'd say it's more competitive than biglaw (more firms out there recruiting than governments hiring), and well sought after, especially by those who are interested in criminal stuff.
  7. NLCA and NSCA accept applications from members of the bar as clerks for one-year terms.
  8. I've been using MySupportCalculator to come up with the range, and that's it. Pretty much every time, we're arguing toward the middle in any event, so the computer-driven range is more informative than anything else. I've never filed MSC with the Court, because usually counsel will agree on what the range should be. Does your local Law Society Law Library have free access to Divorcemate? I think ours does.
  9. The argument in favour of the compulsory courses at UNB is that when you're hiring someone from UNB, you already know that they have at least some background in a number of fields. Good from the general practice POV - it pays to have a summer student/articled clerk who can respond to any number of different practice areas. Personally speaking, there are courses I would never have touched had I had a choice in the matter, and I've wound up with something of a speciality in one of those areas, in part because I had to take the class in it. Note, though, I wouldn't use it as a selling point to choose one school over another, since it's easy to adjust your course selections at any school in the country. There are plenty of good reasons to choose UNB, but I wouldn't necessarily add that to the list.
  10. Work for legal aid helping the poor and desperate, and then take your annual vacation to some other part of the world. The laws of Canada don't apply to the rest of the world, and straight out of law school your services aren't worth much in the international sphere.
  11. I might be the only person on this who does any amount of maritime law. (I've said before I have a diverse practice ....) What work I do in maritime mostly involves law relating to the fishery and fishing boats. Marine mortgages and liens, derelict vessels, claims arising from incidents at sea, marine insurance claims, etc. Been to Federal Court a few times dealing with such things and had the opportunity to work on SCC litigation on a related issue (never got to appear, though ) Related quasi-criminal work comes up in defending offences under the Fisheries Act, so if you have an interest in criminal law, you can get a similar but somewhat unique experience. There is demand for the work, but it's pretty niche, and unless you live in an area where shipping/fishery work is commonplace, I don't know how you'd get into it. I have some pretty unique circumstances that have me working in this field, and it still makes up only a fraction of what I do.
  12. $25k amounted to about $220/mth in minimum payments. That wasn't a huge amount to carry, so I could afford to hold out and be more selective in my choice of job, and also to take opportunities in lower-paying areas of law (see: criminal), and had the security of knowing that if I lost my job or decided to change jobs, I'd have an easier time carrying my bills. It really came down to the monthly payments rather than the overall amount for getting through the monthly bills. Overall, the lower debt also meant I was able to get a mortgage when I sought one. So I'm not sure where the cutoff would've been where it would've been unmanageable, but the more money I'd have had to route into student loans would be less money available for other things, and a higher minimum income I'd need to take home.
  13. I fall into the bill of smaller town crimlaw (among other areas of practice).I'd starve if I did crim alone, but a decent portion of my income comes from criminal work: mostly drug possession, DUI and assault, as well as YCJA stuff. Middle-class people or blue-collar tradesmen/oil workers getting into trouble, for whom it's not worth hiring counsel from 100 miles away or who would prefer to have a local who knows the judge and prosecutor. These are the folks who can come up with $5k for a retainer, and have resources to pay. If we had a Legal Aid certificate program in this province, criminal practice could be lucrative even working at just the Legal Aid tariff ($125/hr right now). I imagine it would be harder to run such a practice if I had stiff competition from a more senior bar or more specialized criminal counsel, though. Edited to add response to the initial question: I came out of LS with $25k in debt. Very manageable monthly payments, so I was able to be more flexible in looking for work. I found a good position with good pay that, if I'd had several times' more debt, I don't think I'd have been able to manage. Pay in this region isn't the highest to begin with, so added debt would have limited my ability to live in the province in which I wanted to work.
  14. My perspective on it is the same as Malicious Prosecutor's. Buying the practice outright is, in my opinion, foolish. Particularly in wills and estates - if his office shuts down completely, all of his clients are going to be looking for new lawyers anyway. How much is there really to be gained if he tosses you the keys to his office as he leaves for good? Especially in wills and estates - you might pick up some repeat business from people amending their wills, and perhaps you might pick up probate work (although clients may only call the office on the back of the will, which may or may not matter if the alternative is the shutdown of the practice). In both cases, the transition isn't really of much value. If Sr. Lawyer's office shuts down tomorrow, there's minimal cost for someone to take their work elsewhere. As noted, the only real value is in the goodwill of the senior partner. It's only a worthwhile endeavour to buy someone out if they're going to stick around for a good few years to transition you in as a takeover person and the continuation of his legacy, but that's more in the nature of joining as partner, not an outright takeover. A note of caution: a lot of senior lawyers seem to overvalue their practices. There's too much pride and emotion tied up in decades of work to be told that, from a dollars and cents perspective, their firm isn't worth crap on resale. They're not selling a factory or a franchise restaurant - the only product to sell is their own reputation and experience, and that's something you can't sell off to another person. Bear that in mind.
  15. I transferred between to Atlantic provinces a few years ago. It's relatively easy - fill in forms, send cheque. Request permission to practice in the interim while awaiting the bar call if there's a delay in the new province. I believe it was less than two weeks from initial application to the grant of permission for interim practice, and about three months to the bar call.
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