Hi folks, this is obviously a throwaway account for a few reasons, which I have cleared with Hegdis prior to posting.
I'm looking for some advice in terms of the next steps I should take in my career, and am hoping those of you with experience can chime in. This is a bit of a long story, so hold on to your hats here.
Since I was a kid, I had always wanted to go to law school, and frankly, always wanted to do criminal law. As I approached law school, and even entered 1L, I heard the refrain time and time again to keep an open mind and that often what you enter wanting to practice isn't what you may enjoy. In 1L I actually really did enjoy my Criminal Law course, and I participated in a moot on a criminal issue and felt really good about it (I did well in it too).
But somewhere I went wrong. In the process of "keeping an open mind" I frankly think I let others sway me away from what I was actually interested in. It may have been constantly hearing about the money you could make in corporate, or how hard criminal law is, or really even just worrying myself about what others would think of my decision to forego the corporate recruit, but I decided to move towards the path of being a corporate lawyer.
And frankly, some of the corporate stuff I learned I really enjoyed, and it definitely made me want to at least try it out in practice. Despite a B+ average, including a smattering of A's in various courses, I was unable to get a job in 1L or 2L I struck out in the recruit. I ended up securing an articling job in March of 3L, doing 90% corporate commercial work, with some other stuff mixed in. Pretty much zero litigation (I drafted some documents for an ADR matter and did some research related to a dispute, no court/tribunal time). I figured it would be a good experience. I had gotten some idea of what litigation would look like in law school (took some courses, mooted, etc.) and wanted some transacational experience. It was also March and I was frankly desperate to secure articles. You may be able to see where this is going.
I hate it.
Like, really hate it.
Really, it comes down to three things that I don't like. The job isn't personal. The job isn't complex. And the work I'm doing doesn't feel meaningful. I can definitely expand on those headings if I need to, but that's really what it comes down to.
I feel like I'd be a lot happier in a litigation role, where I could feel like I'm using my brain, put my public speaking skills to use, and actually have something to fight over with a result that means something significant to a client. Specifically, I'm thinking a move to Criminal/PI/Union/Employee side Labour and Employment litigation would check some of the boxes that seem to be missing from my current job (I'm really interested in criminal, if I'm being honest).
So here's the question, what would you do in my situation? How would you sell yourself? Are there firms out there that will let you "pay the bills" with your corp/comm experience while you gain litigation experience? If I gain civil lit experience can I make a move to criminal? Should I hang my own defence shingle when I get called, look for some mentors, and grind? Is there a path for me, or should I just work as a solicitor for 4 years, pay off my loans, and leave the profession? Am I overthinking this completely?
I'm aware I'm fighting an uphill battle, and if I could go back and do it again I would. But I'm looking for a way forward now, and am hoping someone here can provide some guidance to a person who has definitely gone down a path and realized (thankfully at the beginning of their career) that it isn't what they want.
Happy to provide additional info, if it'll make a difference.