I'm sure many would consider it nuts to terminate Articles, but I am considering it.
The work I'm doing is basically good.
The problem is that the work environment is making me depressed to the point of being unwell, and I could use some advice.
I also am wondering some stuff about the firm that seems kind of shady, but I'm not sure. I'll start with that:
1. Is it weird for students not to docket their time? My principal can I guess estimate the time I've worked on something but I never report it. I'm not supposed to, ever. Do firms normally bill for student time as just rolled into a lawyer's time?
2. I'm definitely not supposed to sit through online CPD for my principal while working so they can claim the hours. But I know the rules get bent along the way and you have to play ball sometimes. But it's unethical and I feel weird being bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct just like a lawyer but being totally subject to what my principal instructs me to do. Or I am overreacting?
3. How long is reasonable to sit on a client's file before initiating work?
On to the work environment:
It's chaotic because there are so many files. I understand law is busy, but there are limits. My principal's philosophy basically amounts to "just do it". But the crazy thing is, I'm on an hourly wage and I'm not supposed to work overtime unless it's like a really special occasion that I need prior approval for. Staying an extra hour to make something good is not allowed, unless I do it on my own time. I'm just supposed to make it happen. If I got a half-decent salary I would be happy to stay late. Overtime in lieu is of no use to me as if I ever took the time it would just tack on to my articling term. My impression from others is that long hours are pretty common during articles, and also it's the only way to deal with time and accuracy/quality-sensitive work. So, I feel whipsawed.
I got a great result in this case I worked on right off the bat. I probably did take longer that whatever the optimum is because I got thrown in with no knowledge of anything that was going on and little guidance. I figured it out. Everyone was thrilled with the result, but my principal told me that I can never take that long on something again. But how long is too long? I just feel like my principal wants what she wants with little regard to any complexity. There are only so many corners to cut, and if I cut them too short I will get clipped for that too. I hate this constant pressure to just magically make things happen.
I also just don't know if I am getting a reasonable amount of mentoring or even direction. It's obvious that she just wants the work done as cheaply as possible - there is no mentoring going on here. Well, there is some when there's time. Those have been rare good moments. She rarely has many revisions for most of my work - I don't know if it's because it's actually good or we're just chucking stuff out the door at this point.
The other student makes a lot more money than I do. I got interviews for about 1/10 jobs I applied for; I don't feel like I had no other possibilities. I feel like my principal tossed a lowball offer and I took it, and that's all fair in her books. I wouldn't bat an eyelid if we were paid the same low pay, but I can't shake this disparity, not in light of the overall conditions being what they are.
I used to say that I could live with the pay gap since the other student was basically being bullied. All the talk of the office was her allegedly glaring mistakes and how she couldn't be trusted. I am concerned that I am about to be the next target, and the fact that my principal has telegraphed that I work too slow and she won't accept my current productivity in a couple of months when we have to deal with this backlog of files.
I realize this is a ranting overshare. I tried to make it more concise but couldn't really capture how I'm feeling. I'm driving my partner nuts complaining about work, as well.
I have loads of other work experience to draw on, at least to survive while I look for another articling job. I have a pretty good professional network. I foolishly barely drew on that bank when I was looking for articles because I have this huge complex about putting people out or something in any way - it only applies to advocating for myself, not my employer or clients, and yes, I know I need to get over that. It's not easy, but I'm ready to do it now. So, I'm maybe not as bad off as some others in my situation might be.
I am trying to decide if I:
1. Just need to press on, get over it, because life sucks sometimes
2. Demand a decent salary and the freedom to work extra hours to feel comfortable with the work I do, and that my boss make time to check in with me properly.
3. Terminate, handle the short-term unemployment and later bar call. Have the confidence that I'll find something else and be picky, because honestly there were red flags with this one.
Thoughts? I'm especially wondering what the lawyers out there would think of hiring an articling student who left a previous articling placement.