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Lola O.

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  1. I may be biased, given that I’ve worked in 3 very different areas of law since graduating law school 8 years ago, but I think that the difficulty from transitioning from one area to another is overblown. Apply to jobs in different areas and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised. I haven’t done the switch between solicitor work and litigation — I have always been a litigator — and that may be more difficult, but brand new calls still have an absolute ton to learn and no employer will think otherwise. I would not recommend going out on your own as a new call in criminal defence, unless you have some solid support/mentorship, AND the personal circumstances that would allow you to make under 30K per year for the first 3 years. I get it. I summered and articled in criminal defence work, and it was what I wanted to do throughout law school. I gave that up fast. I continued working in criminal law for a few years post-articling and decided that it wasn’t worth it for me. No regrets. Going out on your own is a difficult path — some do it with success, but I’d explore every other option first. If you think you could be happy in PI or Labour and Employment, then I’d look there first. I don’t know where you are, but in B.C. (at least pre-COVID) PI and Insurance Defence firms are desperate to hire. The bottom is falling out of that market in the next few years due to legislative changes, but you’d get a few years of solid experience in before that happens and employers are not in a position to be too picky.
  2. I have 2 little kids in daycare (aged 1 and 3) and it works, but just barely. My husband works long hours in a different industry and we stagger hours so that the kids aren't spending long days in care -- I drop off around 9 before heading into the office and he picks up around 4:30. I would suggest taking your kid's personality into account when deciding between a daycare and a nanny -- my baby would likely be fine with longer days, but my elder child would find it difficult. My elder would probably be happiest with a nanny, but also probably benefits the most from the daycare setting (socialization, having to deal with multiple teachers, structure). Like all things kid-related, it totally depends on the kid. The real problem with daycare is that the kid can't go there if they're ill. And little kids in a daycare setting get sick all the time. Seriously, all the time. I've received 3 calls to pick up my sick child from daycare in the month of February alone, and the kid has been too sick to return for several days each time. I'm a litigator, and appear in court at least a few days each week -- it's kind of a disaster. I am in a very family-friendly office, on an 80% schedule, and have family support and it's still a disaster. My spouse is generally unable to respond to the daycare call to pick up the kids, so it tends to fall to me or the grandparents, who pitch in more than is reasonable to expect.
  3. I'm not exactly a fan of the 'lean-in'/Sheryl Sandberg mentality, but I do think there's something to be said for not worrying too much about pregnancy/kids/work-life balance until you need to. I'm a litigator with little kids, and I work reasonable hours. Sometimes it's crazy busy (though never for months on end) -- sometimes not. I've worked in 4 different jobs (and 3 distinct areas of law) since law school, and have had reasonable hours at all of them. I have not ever worked at one of the large downtown firms, and I do know that those firms generally require significantly more hours than what I put in. That's a big part of why so many associates leave after 3 or 4 years, but there's no reason that you can't choose to do that if you find yourself pregnant 3 years in and want a better schedule. My point is: don't worry about problems that don't exist yet. Don't be a solicitor if you want to be a litigator. And don't leave the law because you're worried that you'll find the schedule too difficult, or the job too stressful, or whatever. Try it. Try multiple firms, try different areas of law, and if it doesn't work out, then look for something different.
  4. Feel free to PM me for more details if you'd like, but in short: 1) Not a huge issue for me, thankfully. The first time around I was lucky enough to completely avoid exhaustion and morning sickness in the first trimester, and felt totally fine right up until giving birth. I was somewhat sicker during the first trimester the second time, but still easily able to work full-time. Dealing with my toddler in the evenings/weekends was more exhausting than working. 2) First time I told at around 18 weeks. It was too late -- everyone knew. Second time (different job) I told at 15 weeks, was certain that everyone already knew, and everyone was completely surprised. Significant difference in office environments -- while both firms were/are very friendly and social, my old firm had more of a drinking culture than my current firm. I still attended the after-work events, but people noticed that I wasn't drinking. 3) I was very happy to return from maternity leave. I took slightly less than a year each time (9 months and 7-8 months). I don't think that anyone would have balked at my taking 12 months if I wanted to, but 18 months might have raised some eyebrows. I think 18 months is generally a crazy amount of time to be away from work, but I respect that others may feel differently. I don't think that the maternity leave hindered my career in any way. I was a 3rd year call the first time around and a 6th year call the second. It was as good a time as any, though my second was very unexpected and I would have preferred to wait a little longer. That's probably more for personal reasons than professional though. One note, which providence touched on -- pregnancy/maternity leave is (relatively) short, but parenthood is long. The impact on your career extends well beyond any impact from pregnancy or maternity leave. For me, working long hours at a high-stress job was much easier while pregnant than with very small children at home.
  5. I also articled in criminal defence, and worked in criminal law for a few years before transitioning to another area. I was not hired back -- it was made very clear to me at the outset (at my interview as a summer student, in fact) that that was unlikely to happen and had nothing to do with being well-liked/doing good work/etc. Of the many friends I made also doing criminal defence articles, I can only think of one who was kept on by his firm. Some left criminal law altogether, but most of us actually patched something together. Popular options were: going to work for the provincial Crown in rural northern regions; going to work for the firm doing agency work for the PPSC; going sole and developing a relationship with more senior lawyers to assist on large files or do the work that they had no interest in doing; and joining a firm with a split criminal/family practice and trying to do as much criminal work as possible (note: to my knowledge, all of these people now practice in family law pretty much exclusively, so maybe not the best plan if you're determined to stay in criminal law). I hustled pretty hard and had a number of options a few months before finishing articles. I am not a hustler by nature, and can't sell something to save my life, so I did it in a way that worked for my personality -- was friendly with everyone, went out of my way to be as helpful as possible, and made it clear that I was looking for a position. I did good work at my articling firm and my principal was happy to make some calls for me, which is ultimately how I wound up with my position (though it was a posted position that I did formally apply for). It's definitely not hopeless, and I graduated at the absolute worst possible time for criminal defence work in BC. Good luck!
  6. Just as a heads up -- I'm pretty sure that both of these are internal postings. I don't see it on the External Applicant website. So, unless you already work for the Province of B.C., you're not eligible to apply. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
  7. I articled at a criminal defence firm in Vancouver and continued to practice in criminal law for a few years before switching areas. These are tough times for new calls in criminal law in the Lower Mainland. To answer your questions: 1) Almost impossible. Most criminal lawyers are sole practitioners with or without an office-sharing arrangement. There are very few true firms, and essentially all of them take on their own articled students. 2) Straight salary would be rare, but can happen. A fee-sharing arrangement is more common, and may or may not also involve covering a share of the overhead. My advice? Hit up your principal for connections. Tell everyone that you're looking for a position. Large Legal Aid files will often approve funding for junior counsel -- I know a few people who got their foot in the door that way. Good luck!
  8. Lola O.


    Thanks for the responses. I'll be borrowing for now, but was thinking more long-term. I don't expect to have to wear them very often, but I'm in criminal defence and may have the opportunity to junior on some Supreme stuff relatively early on. Do the prices vary much across Canada? There's really only one place that makes them in Vancouver, and it's a relatively swanky shop right in the downtown core. I see some online and mail order places in Ontario and Manitoba which are way cheaper. The sites are a little grim though.
  9. Lola O.


    It has recently come to my attention that these barrister's robes cost a fortune. Like $1500 or something. Does anyone know of a less expensive way to buy/get these robes made? My firm will not be paying for them. I'm in Vancouver and am willing to travel if it's worth my while.
  10. $250 000 is a lot of money. Monthly repayment of almost $3000 for 10 years at a modest interest rate (7%). My understanding is that very few people do 10 years in US biglaw. $150 000 is $1700 per month with the same parameters. Still a lot of money, but significantly more manageable. Unless your friend has goals that would necessitate a Harvard degree (academia, very desirable public interest, high-level clerking) I don't think it's worth it. I am a current articled student with a relatively heavy debt load. I expect that your friend is going to get very different answers from 0Ls and current students. Debt is life-ruining. It's hard to fully appreciate that until you're actually paying it back.
  11. Just so you're aware -- the B.C. Loan Forgiveness/Reduction Program is not available to law students. You're still eligible for grants, and there are some loan forgiveness programs available if you work for the provincial government, but the one that just spontaneously reduces your loans is not available for professional students. I think that the Alberta program is significantly better, but I don't know about their grant system. They will certainly lend you much more money, so you won't have to rely on a student line of credit like most B.C. students do. Keep in mind, the BC max is $10 800 per year (plus a max $2000 in grants depending on your income status -- I'm pretty broke and was classified as middle-income)
  12. I'm in Vancouver -- my firm does a combination of salary and commission. The end result is pretty generous, the last new associate made over $100 grand in his first year. We don't do any Legal Aid work, and handle a combination of minor and serious offences. More minor offences than serious ones. The problem: the last new associate was hired over 5 years ago, and this isn't unusual. There are very few 'associate' positions open in criminal defence work, so the majority of young crim lawyers either switch into another type of law, go to the federal/provincial Crown, or go solo and hustle for Legal Aid files. You really can't plan to become a criminal defence associate -- you just do your best and hope that it all works out. I don't know how far along in the process you are, but there are a couple of crim defence firms that regularly hire on their articled students (I can only think of 2 off the top of my head). Ask around or send me a message if you're searching for summers/articles and this is important to you. It's a pretty open topic of discussion in the criminal defence bar.
  13. One thing to look into would be your eligibility for temporary articles. I'm in Vancouver, and we had a number of foreign students apply for a 2L summer posting at my firm. Some of the resumes were quite strong, but the Law Society of B.C. won't approve foreign students for temporary articles. It may be that in a big firm this doesn't matter, but in my firm we need the student to have articled student status in order to do the job.
  14. 3 of 6 for me. I actually already took a position, so I declined my interviews, but I feel surprisingly invested in this anyway. This seems to have been a rough year.
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