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BertyBewp

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  1. This is my experience too. I'm not a criminal defence lawyer, but I practice a fairly specialized and niche area of business law that people seem to be generally (and genuinely) interested in. I do have an acquaintance who asks me if I can get them out of jail every time we talk. They think it's hilarious. Every. Time.
  2. Sure "merely chatting to a lawyer" probably wouldn't help, but being raised in a family that is involved in the legal profession could. I'm not denying that there were smarter people in law school than me. I'm also not saying that people who don't come from a family with a legal background can't be successful in law (I mean, no one else in my family is a lawyer and I'm doing just fine). I am saying that having contextual exposure through family members can make a difference, whether that be in grades, that sense of "just getting it" in class, networking connections, financial stability, job opportunities, whatever. Nature and nurture both play a role. I remember being stunned by some students who, like a week into 1L, had all of these really insightful questions and answers that connected dots I didn't even know existed. I felt so far behind and like a massive imposter, until I found out that those students' parents were both lawyers or all their siblings went through law school or whatever it was; they had contextual information that I didn't. That's not a problem, but it is a factor in how we performed relative to each other, at least initially. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this being unfair. Law school, like the world, isn't fair. But when you're graded on a curve against people who may have had 20+ years of slow exposure to a topic you are seeing for the very first time, you're not on a level playing field.
  3. Points taken. I overgeneralized by saying that students coming from a non-law background just won't get it in the same way, and apologize for that. I do think there's room for both perspectives to be true, depending on the individual, their circumstances, and how they adapt. Re everyone writing the same exams leveling out the field, when UofT changed up their 1L curriculum a few years ago, they had students writing 2 final exams in 3 days being graded against students who had 2 exams spread over 10 days. For example, if Section A was taking constitutional (say the exam was day 1) and criminal (day 3) first semester, and Section B was in constitutional (day 1) and torts (day 8), then everyone in Section B had an advantage over Section A in that constitutional exam purely based on their schedule. I think they've fixed that quirk since then but I'm not sure. Grades are important, there are a lot of factors that play into which ones students get, and all anyone can do is their best. Unfortunately "their best" may not be "the best" on the day of the exam, or the day the instructor reads their paper, or whatever, and that sucks, but that's the system that we've got at the moment.
  4. I would argue everyone is not on a level playing field in 1L. There are students who come from families full of lawyers who have had years, if not their whole lives, to slowly pick up advice about law school or learn some basic (and not-so-basic) principles by osmosis and exposure. Dinner table chats with e.g. your older sibling who is a criminal lawyer, or your parents' friend who is a judge, or whatever, count for something. Those students are also probably in a solid position financially and can be less stressed about getting the grades to get the job, which in turn leads to being able to put the mental resources towards getting the grades and the job. Students who have no legal connections in their upbringing start 1L with a comparative disadvantage. They may still do really well, but they won't "just get it" in the way law-in-the-family students will. Edited to add: Also, any student that moves to attend law school will be at a disadvantage in 1L. They've lost the direct connection to friends and communities that formed their support system, and have to build new connections in the city they're studying in, on top of learning how law school works.
  5. I don't know about anyone else, but I initially planned to stay in Ontario and practice for a few years and then eventually find my way back to Vancouver. And then life happened (as life is wont to do) so I sped up my timeline. There's an application process that you need to do, which includes getting a Certificate of Character from a practicing BC lawyer, or a lawyer from your current jurisdiction. It's been a while so I don't remember the specifics of the rest of the application, but all the BC-side info is here: https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/becoming-a-lawyer-in-bc/transfers/transfer-to-bc-from-another-canadian-jurisdiction/
  6. I did it. Got Called in Ontario on a Tuesday, moved to Vancouver the same Friday. As @Chuckles64 noted, it was an expensive administrative pain in the ass, but it's so, so nice to be on the West Coast. If you're thinking about surrendering your Ontario license, get on that process as soon as you're admitted in BC. Surrendering takes forever. Granted, some Vancouver firms like having lawyers who can practice in multiple jurisdictions and might pay your fees in both BC and ON, but I wouldn't bank on it. Protip - once you're insured in BC, contact LawPro asap and tell them you're covered in another jurisdiction so you don't have to pay ON and BC insurance fees. I paid for 5 unnecessary months of overlap because I thought it was tied to my ON surrender process, not my BC admission. Ugh. Also, the Call ceremony is going to feel weird. It's SO CHILL. Like, uncomfortably chill. Like, people who are in the building will just swing by and watch for a hot second and then get back to whatever it is they were at the courthouse for. Tres bizarre. I also found it disconcerting when people were congratulating me on my Call in BC - I literally did nothing but pay and show up, all the hard work was done ages ago. And they congratulate you on becoming a lawyer and you're like "thaaaaanks but I've been a lawyer for X months / years somewhere else?" May have just been me but it felt odd and I sort of wish they had a transfer-only Call ceremony. Aaaanyway, come on down, everything is green and the weather is great! Well... when the rain stops.
  7. If it's a toxic environment and you don't think you'll survive another day, let alone another year, leave. Your safety and mental wellness is worth more than that. But if it's a "ehhh, things are fine but I don't really like the work" thing? Stay. Get a bit of experience under your belt and look for a new position while you're still making income. So what if you end up doing 6 months or a year of work that doesn't ignite your passion? It will keep you afloat in the meantime, and help you develop the tools that you need to work at the next opportunity. Make it a priority to go to networking events and meet lawyers in the field you want to get into - eventually someone will say "oh BertyBewp's firm is looking for a junior, you should get in touch with them" and you'll be golden. Way easier to look for a job while you have a job. I turned down an associate's position at the firm I articled at and spent a good 6 months hunting for a position after that. It was soul-crushing. Nobody wanted a new Call, and nobody wanted a new Call from a firm that they'd never heard of. Everyone I met asked where I was working, and I had to force a smile and say "oh, I'm actually looking at the moment, if you know anyone please put me in touch!" Worst case of imposter syndrome I have ever had. I had mountains of debt, no experience, no contacts in the wider market, and frequent panic attacks. It nearly broke me. Be aware that that is a possibility of looking for a job after turning down a position. That story turns out great in the end, I eventually landed my dream job, but it was a long road.
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