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QueensGrad

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  1. Hey, was just wanting to add a response from down the line (and also a thank you for all the feedback and thanks!) 1. I will happily admit to potentially putting too much thought into noticing the little things that some people do. My reason for that is because I find the game is often tight between students, and they all look so similar on paper. Finding people with good attention to detail helps because that's so often what I need from a student (or really anyone I work with) given the nature of our work. For sure it's a personal preference thing, and a great many people may not notice the small particulars I mentioned (including myself, depending on the day. I accidentally left the hose wearing black shoes with my brown belt and blue suit yesterday. I chalked it up to my level of tired). 2. Regarding the LinkedIn thing. I'm not suggesting it's some kind of "harm," just an annoyance that weirds me out. If I don't hire you then you're an "almost hired" connection, which is... just odd in my head. Again, I may think about these things differently. My bigger issue is that I assume it implies a certain level of over-chumminess at a time when I'm trying to figure out who to hire, which first involves mostly just figuring out who NOT to hire because it's so much easier to just cut applicants based on finding a singular deal breaker issue. Of over 70 applications, I weeded almost all of them out that way, unless they had some kind of major positive that really made me want to keep them in the race. It was only the final few where you start really weighing them entirely on their benefits because there are no more real issues to nix people. I think it's more odd than anything and I see zero benefit to doing it. Even if the best you can hope for is a neutral outcome, then why do it given the risks? Is there ever a benefit? It's like talking to the police. The best you can hope for is nothing happens to you, so just keep quiet. (also, I think when someone said there is harm they meant for the application, not in a "I've been harmed" kind of way) Admittedly, the threat reached consensus on this, I think, I just wanted to help solidify it for any students who go through this looking for an answer later. Also, I thought @barelylegal made a fantastic point that I hadn't considered, which is the optics of connecting with job applicants mid-application process. It seems so glaringly obvious now that I can't believe I forgot that social media is a two-way street of information, and it conveys to others that perhaps I'm picking a favourite in advance (after all, they won't know who asked whom to connect). 3. @EMP, you're not wrong about me noticing the fashion/accessory issues that I mentioned (I wouldn't mention it without taking note). Frankly, I'm not looking for extraordinary coordination, but things should come together in a way that, preferably, does not draw my attention (mostly because I'm looking for things that are wrong). If the tie clip and watch don't match, I'm probably not even going to notice, that was more of just something I do in terms of coordination which came out of a desire to blend things as well as possible and stand out as little as possible for fashion choices. A real lack of coordination overall will make me think the person is less attune to looking professional, which may contribute to a lack of professionalism (or at least a perceived lack of it by a client, which can be just as damaging if we're trying to secure one). That said, it hasn't kept me from hiring people in the past as long as everything else is there (my assumption is that students will learn). But if you're supposed to be putting your best foot forward then do so! After the interview dress down, wear funny socks, whatever. I have fun socks myself (some with the Queen's Law logo on it, one pair with sharks, one pair with mugs of beer, and one pair with a mustache. I even have fun cufflinks, like the ace of spades, scales of justice, and the batman emblem. I don't wear them very often at all, but I do have them). There's just a time and a place for everything, and I think an interview is the time and place to do things up as well as you can. If I assume what you're presenting is your best version of you, falling below that may leave me wondering if that's your maximum capability. 4. On the asking about "work-life balance" issue, I'll concur with the majority of the opinions in this threat. Firstly, I was talking about it in an interview context. While I'm not sure how I would answer that question (I had pneumonia for the better part of a month and showed up to work every day while coughing up blood except for one, and even did some work days that went past midnight, and I didn't see an issue in doing that to myself), I do know that it doesn't make for the best impression. Maybe the legal profession needs to reorient its priorities, but I can tell you that I, as well as the more senior lawyers I work with, are of the mind that work-life balance comes later. Early on there's so much you don't know that you need to burn the candle at both ends for a while. You need to have that level of drive and commitment. Frankly, if you have that level of drive and commitment then you'll probably do great just doing 9 to 5, but I won't get the sense that you have it if, during our short time together when I'm deciding whether or not I want you to work for me, you want to ask me about how much time you'll get to spend NOT working. That's essentially what that question is. How much time do I get to balance the "life" part of my life against the "work" part of my life, i.e. how much time do I have for things that aren't work? It's not a great signal if that's where you mind goes during our relatively short interview. Again, I've got to back up @barelylegal, I think she phrased the issue perfectly as to how it enters my mind when I'm asked that question, including about it being a potential red flag (you don't know from the interview and you're not going to follow up with "was that a serious question? Why are you asking?). I also agree with @providence and @Hegdis. It's fairly common for me to talk to my students towards the end of the day. I use that time to talk with them about what they're working on, if they need anything to help them with the job, if there are files they're interested in that they know we've had come in and they want to be a part of, if they're having any issues, and also to lecture a bit and teach them more about the practice of law and particular subject areas (whether out of interest or because they're having issues with it). I also use that discussion time to talk to them about their future plans. If they're concerned about the Bar exam then I've offered to help get them materials. If it's the NCA's then I've shared some old course outlines with them (informing them they're out of date, but it might be a helpful overview). One student expressed an interest in an area of law I don't practice, so I set her up with some time at the office of a lawyer who does practice it who was prepared to show her some things for a few days. As an interviewer, you want people who are excited about this line of work (especially if you are too). I want keeners. I want people who want to go and chat about this stuff after hours, even if they don't do it much. I'm going to guess a lot of people on here talk with their lawyer friends about this stuff a lot after hours (I know I do). Asking about work-life balance doesn't do anything to further that view. Now it's entirely possible that these individuals will still be fine lawyers, and are happy to put in the extra time, I don't know. But why raise the doubt in my mind during the interview? The question is pretty meaningless as is, but I think the doubt it might create is the worst. I'm a workaholic, so my view is skewed in terms of what work-life balance is. I'm not expecting to hire workaholics, but I'd like to hire people who are at least very interested in what we do (FYI, my firm is my life. Once you get this deeply involved in something it consumes you. Why would you share that with someone who off the bat wants to know how much time they don't have to spend there or spend doing work related things?). As a slight pivot, I'm going to say that not only do I think the question doesn't help the interviewee, but I think the negative images it can conjure can be easily justified by experiences that are either first hand or anecdotal. For my first hand experience, I can tell you that I know a few people who seem completely lost in law. Their motivation appears to be lacking, every hurdle or issue they face is somehow devastating rather than a challenge to overcome, and usually blame is placed somewhere else (law school, articling, and even parents for not adequately preparing them. Seriously, I've heard these direct from individuals). The internal motivation is lacking for things like self-teaching and enduring some amount of hardship to overcome issues. Now, all that said, that comes from a place of hiring students. I've yet to hire anyone who has already practiced. Later on, if I'm doing that, and I'm hiring people with families and the like, then I completely understand where they're coming from. The question also concerns me a lot less because they're older, more experienced, and they already know the ropes well enough that I'm not worried about them having to put in extra time to get things done or get research done (the length of time it takes students to do things at the start is insane. I'm sure I was just as slow, but you lose sight of that down the road. Now I'm fine with that because it's a learning process, but then I need to know a person is going to engage in the process to learn, because I've seen what happens if they don't). I don't know what to really say about the mental health aspect. I had something rather lengthy written for this, but I'm not looking to stir up that topic here. Ultimately, I do agree we have a mental health problem within the profession. Also, I have no idea what's to be done about it. I don't think work-life balance questions in an interview do anything to fix it, nor do I think that resolving that one issue alone will fix the problem (I can think of a number of factors that cause my issues to act up that have nothing to do with how long I'm at the office). So I'll just point out that, regardless of mental health issues you still have to get enough work done to either support your business and pay yourself, or else to pay for yourself at a firm and contribute towards the costs/profits of the firm (otherwise you're likely not worth it to them to give a salary to). We have minimum requirements that you must meet regardless, whether it's the requirements of the law society, the clients, or economics. That doesn't make things very amenable to solutions for cutting back on work, especially early on when it takes you forever to get things done (I know I was slow as hell at first. It takes practice). So you're going to be weary of suspicions that someone won't be able to deliver on these basics. I know I would be. I don't know what you do to control for the disproportionate effect this will have on people with mental health issues, but there it is. The point is that the question, much like adding someone to LinkedIn, doesn't help you and only raises certain questions or negative possibilities. If the best you can hope for is a neutral outcome, then why do it? Also, even if you want to link that issue to the mental health issue, which I agree is majorly important, why bring that up in the interview? An interview isn't really the forum for you to air your problems, including ones you expect to have unless it's going to be something that will hinder your ability to do the job and you need the employer to know that. You could just say "I can only work 9-5" and then the employer can decide if that's fine, or maybe you need to work 10 to 2 (so you can drop off and pick up the kids from school), and then you make up the other 4 hours elsewhere (you come back to work 6 to 10, or you do the work from home or something. basically the flexibility that @Hegdis mentioned). Stuff like that you need to let the employer know. But short of that, why mention that you want to not have extensive work hours because you're concerned about what it will mean for your stress levels and the like? It's just not a good idea. 5. @barelylegal is absolutely right. There's plenty of lawyers happy to talk to you about this stuff. I had a nice relationship with this one Barista at my local Starbucks (a Barista-customer relationship, not a dating one), and she mentioned she was looking for jobs in the legal field. So I connected her with this paralegal I know. She then got an interview but was worried that she didn't know enough as to how to do the job, so I had her come in for a day. I showed her stuff, my assistant showed her stuff, and we tried to give her a bit of knowledge as to what she could expect. I made a similar offer to this bank teller I see a lot who said she was thinking about law school. Those of us in the profession are often excitable nerds about it, and so we're happy to share our nerdism with others. You might run into a few prickly individuals, but don't let that dissuade your efforts. Also, I'm not sure the best way to approach this. I mean, if you talk to me directly, I'd say you're more likely to get my time for this. If you talk to my assistant, she'll likely pass on the message but you're more likely to get less of my time depending on how happy she is with my work output (again, good assistants keep a firm running, great assistants basically run the firm. I have a great assistant, so she's practically in charge when it's not law stuff).
  2. To be honest, paralegals are not for anything that lawyers aren't, other than a cheaper alternative to lawyers. Here are my problems with the paralegal regime: 1. I find paralegals are not well versed in things ranging from the law to how to communicate. Now and again I run into one who is very good at their job (usually because they actually know something, and on one occasion because the guy's knowledge was okay but he was very loud and forceful and clearly that strategy was working for him). Most of the times I deal with paralegals there are real language issues. Those who just don't communicate well can be problematic, but the ones who clearly barely speak English are even more of a problem since I can't do anything with them. Not that this doesn't happen with lawyers now and then as well (I've had to write back to lawyers saying I didn't understand at all what they'd written and they need to redraft it and send the communication again), but I find the incidence rate is much higher among paralegals. This impacts how that profession is perceived and sends an increasing number of people away. Law Clerks and Legal Assistants are amazing. Good ones keep a firm running, great ones practically run the firm (or at least their section/lawyer's practice). What people will pay for a good legal assistant I have to imagine out strips what they'd pay for a good paralegal, if only because at that point you can just shell out for a small firm lawyer, and I find even junior lawyers pull it together better than most paralegals I meet. 2. The requirements demanded by colleges just aren't where they should be, and my articling students are handling small claims matters just fine. Honestly, I'm not impressed by the current paralegal regime. A lawyer working next to me used 3. The paralegal regime is taking away work that could otherwise go to law students, which reduces their usefulness and what you can get out of them to help them pay for themselves (just one more thing that adds to the articling crisis, in my opinion, or at least helps reduce wages for law students in a lot of firms). 4. There is a glut of paralegals. While there is a demand for professionals who can handle lawyer type of matters more cheaply, many just aren't up to the challenge. Even the licensed immigration consultants aren't that up to the challenge. One business is bringing me in for their immigration work because the immigration consultant they hired couldn't get a single application approved. In taking it over I've been finding that the applications were just not completed properly, and potential issues weren't being addressed as part of the process. Again, it must sound like a great idea for the public to get legal services from someone cheaper than a lawyer, but if you're not getting what you paid for then you're not saving anything, just wasting. It's like when people bring me wills to update that they've had done for $80 to $100. They've been invalid because of how and/or who has executed the damn thing as a witness, or entire provisions have been left out (including how to identify a person who is being left something). 5. We need quality control, at all levels, and we just aren't getting it. On the upside, as a lawyer, that means the assumption is usually that I'm going to be absolutely fine at something that a paralegal might make a mess of. The downside is that this is the exact same calculation that I believe the large firms are making. They don't want stricter standards because it would be more stuff for them to comply with, and more importantly it deters customers from going to cheaper law firms because of the examples of how awful things can be at the bottom. They will keep more customers that way. Becoming a paralegal is cheap and quick, especially relative to becoming a lawyer. The downside is that the program is therefore built for someone with no more than a high school level of education, and unless you're going to self-teach your way to be really good at your job (and also to sell yourself far and wide to get clients), you're probably going to have a hard time distinguishing yourself or even meeting the level of service that your clients need (I can tell you that it's pretty sad when I know I'm going to have an easy win just because of who I'm up against on the other side, and that I know I'm getting my way because the other side hired a paralegal who knows absolutely nothing about what they're practicing). If you want a steady job in law and can't or won't do law school, then I think law clerk or legal assistant is the way to go. Get good and you'll become indispensable to your firm. Become a paralegal and you'll just have to compete in that market, and even if you get really good you can't price yourself too high or people will likely just spring for lawyers (and the prices for lawyers are coming down a lot because of the market competition and the number of us who turned to solo practice due to a lack of associate jobs. I also disagree with Diplock about encouraging the growth of paralegal responsibilities as being a good thing. I think there's a reason why we're the only jurisdiction that licenses them and allows them to do this, and it's not because we're particularly progressive. I think there has been a need that just wasn't being fulfilled by the number of lawyers we have, and we decided this was a better idea than just opening more law schools, tweaking articling practices, and having a harder Bar exam to filter out those who shouldn't practice. But that's all based on my experience, and admittedly it is limited in view and represents a small sample size.
  3. You can't be serious, right? Even in the context of the show she did trials, and had done trials prior to reaching that level. The Diamond example is someone who has NEVER done a trial. I had my first trial during my second year of practice (finally had a case that matured to that point and didn't settle before hand).
  4. 1. I agree that some sort of interest section (a small one) is fine, though I've always felt I could live with out it. I think you're right that bigger firms would want to see something because they care about well rounded individuals and they may get enough applications to warrant thinking on that section. Despite the number of applications I received, I don't think I got enough competitive ones to make that section mean much at all to me. But, my apologies if I made it sound like it should be ditched. Really, you're right, it should be there (because I guess you don't know when a firm will care about it, and the ones that don't won't hold it against you because we know it's standard), but there shouldn't be any weird things on it. I think my aversion to this area is because it's so easy for people to stand out in a negative way. I think it's rare that someone stands out in a positive way there (usually it does nothing for me) unless it's something like fencing, or archery, or scuba diving, or something else that seems interesting. 2. Whenever I went to interviews I had packages with me in my padfolio, which I brought to every interview. I wouldn't offer it off the bat (unless it was an occasion where I had something change, such as interviewing after I'd found out I passed the bar but had had to send out the application before I got that news), but it's a good idea to bring it with just in case. Of the 15 or 16 interviews at large firms that I did while still a law student, I'd say at 3 of them I handed over my application package for one reason or another. I think on two occasions they had more people sitting in the interview than they had copies so I was able to just provide them with one on the fly, and in the other one the lawyer interviewing me showed up quite late (about 20 to 30 minutes) and couldn't find the applications he was supposed to be going through, so if I hadn't had copies with me he wouldn't have had one to look at in the time we had left (this was at Beard Winter, by the way). Actually, this leads me to a bit of interview advice I forgot, don't book your interview for first thing in the morning. I did 3 or 4 9am interviews and for two of them the lawyer was late (20 to 30 minutes on both occasions). They feel embarrassed and I think it kills your chances because they don't want to have to see you again due to the embarrassment. It may not be what sinks you, but it can't help. Anyway, that's my reasoning for why you should bring copies. Maybe simply not offering them is the middle ground, but just having them in case? Different experiences, I guess. I wasn't aware people were being told not to bring them anymore. 3. Your example is correct, and clearly I wasn't clear enough (my bad). If you have one term of bad grades, don't mention it. Absolutely. I think it will stand out as an outlier. I meant more for people who have chronic bad grades. If I see a dip in one semester, I'll assume something went wrong. I don't worry about that, we all have bad times. I meant if someone was overall a poor student. Thank you for the comments/feedback. I want to put together an advice booklet for future students, I think. I've got a number of projects like that which I'd like to do, so I'm happy for any input!
  5. Thanks Hopefully it will be of use to people during the next set of articling rounds. I know it wasn't well timed, but I'd just finished up dealing with applications to my firm so it was on my mind.
  6. I think the thing you're forgetting is the absolute glut of licensing applicants that come from schools that aren't in Ontario (or even Canada). Bond, Cooley, Leceister, City of London, etc. etc. There's a massive number of schools out there that are advertising to Canadian law student hopefuls. Trouble getting in? We'll take you! 120 LSAT? Not a problem. No LSAT? Pffft, whatever. Lousy grades? If you've got the money, you're in! In my office we had someone who was in for a few weeks to "try it out" to see if she'd like to do a career change (one of the lawyers was doing a favour for a client). She applied to a school in England and was accepted about a week later. No LSAT. No substantial grades. I guess that's how long it took them to process her application. Numbers are not always easy to come by, but it looks like the NCA students now make up between 25% and 30% of those who take part in the licensing process. Ontario students are now around 60%, with the rest being from elsewhere in Canada (https://lsodialogue.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/DoL_Topic3_Reference_Materials_EN.pdf ) ( http://www.slaw.ca/2017/03/17/the-lawyer-licensing-system-in-ontario/ ). And I promise you, the NCA situation is only getting worse. Between 2007 to 2012 (which I'd say was the period with the largest increases at Ontario law schools), the number of graduates coming out in Ontario increased by 60%. By contrast, the number of applications to the NCA has increased by 250% in the last 10 years ( https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/author/aidan-macnab/law-society-of-ontario-report-contemplates-alternatives-to-articling-15761/ ). People are either finding it more affordable to go to school abroad or else are more prepared to pay the price to do so. Reigning in the law schools is not going to make the dent you think it will. Meanwhile, you've got all these people coming in who are desperate to article, but nowhere is prepared to take them (language skills are more of a barrier than you'd think, according to friends of my who did the LPP instead of articling). If places are prepared to stop taking students because you want to set proper wages then you need to be prepared for the obvious result from that (a further squeeze on articling positions). The sad thing is that I think we're going to reach a point where articling has to be done away with (which is ridiculous because of how insanely valuable it is). In its place we'll have to have a tougher licensing exam that weeds out students who are simply unfit to practice. The U.S. approach is to allow tons of law schools to take in whomever, but then harder Bar exams to keep the unfit ones from practicing. By contrast, the Canadian approach had to do with making it hard to get into law school and weeding out the unfit individuals that way, then having an easier bar exam with an accompanying course to help people really learn something. Plus articling to make sure an experienced lawyer thought they were okay to practice. The filter was at the start with a final quality control check at the end. Due to the increase in NCA applicants who got around the filter, the quality control check saw the bar exam prep course being discontinued and the new bar exam course basically because a language proficiency exam. The crunch on articling spots serves to help keep out the bottom percentage of law students who can't get hired even for free, in theory. Doesn't really work because some bad students are prepared to work for free while some great students aren't and so they get left out. A law professor of mine told me that for bad students she just passes through she relies on them failing the Bar exams and being unable to get an articling job (she said if she fails a student they auto appeal it and the process is so stacked in their favour they wind up with a B-. Better to give them C's and D's). I think what we're going to see is a more U.S. approach. The front end filter doesn't work when you can bypass it. After that, I think we'll see the introduction of tiered licensing. Your initial license will just let you work as a lawyer but not open your own shop. You have to do something like articling or associate work for a while to go alone. That would have really shot me in the foot since I had a rough articling period that did allow me to teach myself a lot of relevant practices that made me confident I could run my own shop (it was an abusive environment and I was paid less than minimum wage, but at least I got to try stuff). I don't think there's any other choice unless they make the NCA exams a lot harder (currently they're basically a pass/fail set of first year level exams on the topics they have to cover. Not much of a challenge). Even then, you've still got a big increase. It's a crap situation and the law society doesn't want to do anything about it. They just want to duck their responsibilities, as per usual.
  7. He also is supposedly the top trial lawyer in the GTA despite having never actually done a trial. He doesn't practice law, really. He's just running an advertising and referral agency. Read the transcripts from when he was examined under oath regarding violating his agreement with a firm he was supposed to be funneling clients to. "Were you practising law in your relationship with Diamond & Diamond?" asked Alan Rachlin, lawyer for Bergmanis Preyra. "That can – I mean I'm – I don't really understand that question," replied Mr. Diamond. Yeah... the firm is really sketchy this way. Lots of clients report that their private information is being sent to other lawyers without their knowledge and they're getting calls from people who claim to be their lawyer despite having never heard of them. Supposedly it's getting better, but they're just trying to change a few things before the law society finally decides to properly intervene (which they seem to be refusing to do, which is always suspicious) https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/case-offers-window-into-widespread-referral-fee-use/article5083777/
  8. When I articled, just as we were beginning to really acknowledge the articling crisis, I was at a 3 lawyer firm and, like the other articling students, making less than minimum wage. There are a few things contributing the the rapid decline of salaries for articling positions and for associate positions in general (though, the hardest hit are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year lawyers). 1. The downturn in the market has not helped, and a lot of firms are feeling some level of pinch (it's felt at the lower end more than at the top). 2. The articling crisis is caused by a massive glut of new law students. You can thank places like Bond, City of London, Leicester, and Cooley for that. 3. Because of the increased demand, students do start to ask about articling at least partly for free. From their point of view, this makes sense. They didn't get paid for going to school and they view the articling term as just another 10 months of school. Small price to pay for being able to get your license. I remember that I had already received notification that I had passed my Bar Exams and all that was left was for me to article (after I finished my LL.M.). I was getting desperate and hoped that if I just got my license I could turn things around. Hence how I ended up working for below minimum wage. there was just no other way to do it. As it stands, I was lucky, because that same firm further slashed the pay for articling students and I'm told that some now article for free. 4. It is so bad out there for spots that I had someone actually offer to PAY ME to take them on as an articling student. I thought that was ludicrous but, after thinking about it, I realized that it's in the same thought as "well, I could work for free..." because you just think of it as another year of school. I sometimes wonder if I'd have been willing to do that if I'd gotten a bit more desperate... (also, no, I did not take that person's money, nor would I. It just seems cruel). 5. Given the sizable oversupply that has absolutely surged just in the last 5 to 8 years, the fact that people are prepared to work for minimum wage and less just to get a job, and given that there are zero real incentives provided by the LSUC to take on an articling student (like how about a reduction in the licensing fees or something?), the market forces push things towards a salary drop. BUT IT GETS WORSE! 6. Little factoid for those who didn't go through the LSUC information release in the wake of re-evaluating the LPP course. You know that big surge of NCA candidates that has resulted in the surging demand? These candidates are also most likely to not secure a job after articling. Also, a sizable number of people in this group are immigrants getting their credentials transferred, which is significant because immigrants are more likely to take the risk of entrepreneurship and try to start their own firm. This means that you have an increasing number of people who are just starting out, who are taking on the expense of setting up their own firm, and who, therefore, simply don't have much money available. When the market conditions provide incentive to view articling students as cheap labour, and when you need help but don't have any money, and when the price of an articling salary is already dropping, and when you have students who are desperate to just get articling over with so they can get their license, then you have a recipe for salaries to bottom out. What's that? You would never work for wages that low? Okay, good for you. Guess what, though... the articling applicant behind you will. That's the person who sees how much debt they went into to get the degree and figures they'll never make the money back unless they get their license, so they'll take the short term hit to make it happen. Welcome to the shit sandwich, ladies and gentlemen! I always chuckle a bit when I see people post "if you can't afford to pay them X then you shouldn't hire anyone." Firstly, that's not the market incentive. Secondly, that leaves the struggling articling student even worse off because now you've taken away their choice. I hated that I worked for less than minimum wage for abuse, racist **sholes. I felt like shit the entire time. I could have dealt with the lack of money if it weren't so awful in all the other ways. It also didn't help that they were complete morons who were thoroughly ignorant of the law and legal procedure, but on the upside that meant I had to teach myself just about everything. Plus, the fact that they were lazy meant I had a ton of stuff to do and experience is a great teacher. As much as I hated it, I'd have been worse off without the choice. Enduring that time allowed me to get my license. Once I had my license, I got to strike out on my own. I'm still not making much money (actually, I'm still making below minimum wage given what it costs to operate a firm), but at least I'm building something. But I digress... Yes, the salary situation is still crap. If anything, it's being perpetuated by the worsening of all the above issues I described (the market has still not fully rebounded and many of us took a hit when the housing market turned south about a year ago. Fewer house closings means fewer house deals that I'll get paid for). The number of people looking for articling positions in small law where such positions do still open up more regularly (larger firms tend to recruit much earlier) has only increased. Oh, and now this will be the last year of the LPP. So whatever pressure the LPP was taking off the shortage (which I'm not sure was all that much) is going to be returned to the articling system. Not only has it gotten worse, but I don't think it's reached its bottom yet. This, and other scary stories, are made available to you by the good people at LSUC. LSUC: where the desire for the power to regulate meets the laziness to not do so unless it means taking your money. Welcome to the profession.
  9. I know several friends from law school who got called to the bar and ceased to practice law shortly or immediately after being licensed. All of them are working jobs that they either would not have gotten were they not licensed lawyers (and in those jobs their employers pay for the maintenance of their license even though they aren't practicing, such as doing research at LexisNexis or Westlaw) or else would not have started in the higher position and at the higher salary that they did start at were they not licensed. Basically, let me give you the simple cost benefit analysis: getting licensed will not diminish your job prospects but may increase them. Not getting licensed means you can't get a job that requires a license or a job where the employer would prefer a license, plus it may raise questions of "why didn't you get your license?" They may assume you couldn't find an articling position or couldn't pass the Bar, or some other thing about you that may indicate that you simply weren't up to the challenge of getting the thing that one would assume you would be after (the license to practice law) based on your having a law degree. Plus, being licensed could open more doors for you by giving you a leg up. An employer might go "well, they're both good candidates but this one is a licensed lawyer. Maybe we can get them to do "such and such," and thereby save us some money on our regular lawyer." Hell, even increase your odds! Become a notary public too! If you're a lawyer, you have the right to become one just for the asking, and you just fill out a one page form, pay something like $75-$100 or so, then get a stamp/seal and mail back your impression. You're a notary! That's something you can now do for an employer for free that could save them a fair bit of money. And hell, getting your license could give you the opportunity to do side gigs. Be an escrow agent. Notarize and/or commission stuff (there's a lawyer who has set themselves up to commission stuff for medical students downtown. He shows up around one time a year, charges them $50 each and makes a killing. My sister was going to do it and I told her to just give me the document. Did it for her right there. didn't even need my stamp since I was licensed. Just had to print my name clearly). Point is, don't lock yourself out of opportunities. You're right there. You just need to pass the Bar exams and article in order to have a license that only a small percentage of the population has and then you get to be a license holder that there's a lot of demand for (according to a basic google search, about 2 to 3 lawyers per 1,000 people).
  10. I'm coming to this way late, but I figure I'll chime in as I just had this conversation with my assistant about whether or not to have a provision in our employee handbook about covering tattoos (either at all times or at least for client meetings and court). Her opinion is we shouldn't be policing this stuff, and if we think it will be a problem then we can always just not hire them. My opinion is that the rules needs to be in place to also deal with if someone successfully conceals a tattoo during an interview or gets one after being hired. Quite frankly, and I think this is true of most small firms (and must be a consideration at larger firms), my resources are few, and my clients are individually important. I'm not in a place where I can just turn work away and it's all fine. Sure, occasionally I will refuse work if I think the client is going to just be a complete and absolute pain and be nothing but trouble (I'd say that, on average, I get one per year that I'm prepared to put in that category), but usually if I turn away work it's because it's not an area I practice. Also, a sizable percentage of my business is from return clients. I'd say about 10% of the money I've brought in over the last 3 years can be traced to about 2 or 3 clients alone because they keep coming back with more work. While these are corporate clients, it's all based on a great relationship with the sole owner of said companies. Why does that matter? Because it means I need the client to be comfortable. They need to feel taken care of, they need to be comfortable in my representing them, and it means they need to be comfortable with those who I might have work with them, too. Generally speaking, by the time these clients reach the status where they have this kind of wealth, they're older. Older clients are generally more conservative. While I do have some clients who have tattoos (including one who has been a good source of revenue, though he is in the trades), they are few and far between. I'm also going to point out that not every culture is okay with tattoos, and I find that recent immigrants are not as big on them. For me that's important because new immigrants are more likely than Canadian natives to start businesses and they need legal services but can't afford the big downtown firms. I've found that these more recent immigrants also like to help other immigrants from their group by connecting them to services, which means sending them to people that they know and think well of. I've got at least 4 or 5 such clients who are immigrants, have a fair number of legal needs themselves, and are CONSTANTLY recommending me to others. I think it's safe to say that not only are they comfortable with me, but they also think I will project a good image of them in terms of who they associate with and who they recommend out. Like it or not, a lot of this business is perception oriented. I, personally, don't care what tattoos you have, even though I think tattoos are kind of silly (I mean, I stopped drawing on myself in early grade school), and I think getting easily visible tattoos indicates that you weren't thinking about the image that you'll be projecting, or that you prioritized a projection of an image of your creative self at a given moment in time over how you might need to present yourself later on in professional environments (and the ones who just have a seeming mess of tattoos all over the place... it looks like an indecisive mess that draws zero attention to any one thing and just leaves a negative impression in terms of what that likely means about you personally, and that's whether it's true or not). That said, I'm not hiring anyone to give them a job and to assist them in their journey of self-actualization and what not. If I hire someone it's because I have a need to fill, and that need is to provide proper service to my clients. My employees have NO OTHER PURPOSE! Everything about my firm is to provide better services to my clients or else to enable me to provide better services to my clients (such as the fidget cube on my desk, or the Advil and Tylenol I go through like PEZ). If the clients aren't happy then they stop coming, and if they stop coming then the firm closes or at least shrinks. If I interview you and you look like someone who might be off putting to a client, then you better believe that's going to affect whether or not I hire you. Whether it's because you present yourself poorly, speak and/or communicate poorly, or look like you'd make them uncomfortable, then it's going to make me not want to hire you. Even if I think you'll only make a couple of them uncomfortable, that's a couple of clients I could lose (which I generally can't afford) or it's a couple of clients I can't send you to deal with. Generally speaking, right now, I hire people not to do things I can't do myself but rather to do things I don't have time for. Every minute I waste doing stuff I don't need to be doing is a minute I can't spend on the things I very much do need to be doing. Sometimes, that's just how it is, and I still work late most days, and often 7 days a week. But, I'm kind of done with the 14 and 16 hour days and am trying to move away from that kind of life. If you're telling me I have to move back closer to that, in any way, because you decided to have someone draw on you in permanent ink, then you are automatically at a disadvantage to people who don't cause me that. For me to overlook it, you need to blow me away in other areas or bring something entirely new to the table (if you're going to open an entirely new area of practice for my firm that I can't do, then it's a different story, for example). Keep in mind that at the interview stage you haven't proven yourself yet and your name will likely be forgotten when you leave the room. When talking about applicants with my assistant you'd probably prefer I refer to you as "the one that seemed really confident" or "the one with the really nice tie" instead of "the one with that tattoo." Because I'm going to refer to you based on what stood out, and if your ink is what stood out and stuck in my mind then you automatically have a problem (if for no other reason than I didn't pick a descriptor that reminds me of something good about you).
  11. I'm a solo practitioner who is working to expand, and as part of that I just finished going about hiring an articling student. What follows is my advice to students on what to and not to do in the course of securing an articling spot. Please note that this does not necessarily work with every other employer, even if they are small firms. These are merely my own observations and views based on my recent experience in hiring an articling student, mixed in with my experience of hiring summer students in the past. I will break this down into the following sections: Cover Letter, Resume, Application in General, Interview, Application Procedure, and Concluding Thoughts. Cover Letter The reason I put the cover letter first is because it is the single most important thing I look at. Surprised? Frankly, I was too. When I was a student I didn't think the cover letter mattered all that much. What could you possibly want to know about me that isn't in my resume? That's where my education and experience are, so why do you want me to state it again in the cover letter? Well, it turns out, employers don't want that. We've just gotten used to it because, frankly, most applications suck. 1. I'm going to lay a hard truth on you now. You aren't special. I know, Disney said otherwise, but you have no idea how not-special people are until you've got a bunch of CV's lined up and everyone is basically the same. Most of the classes are the same, most of the grades are pretty close (that B curve...), most of you have the same experiences as each other (basically pick two or three of a legal clinic, pro bono, writing for or editing a law journal, entry level summer position at a firm where you basically filed documents when you weren't just sitting around with nothing to do, and/or some kind of law school club). Do you know what I use the cover letter for? I use it to determine if you can string coherent sentences together. How's your spelling and grammar. Did you manage to spell my name/the name of my firm correctly? No joke, that's how low the bar is. What I've found is that a lot of people are very, VERY careless with their cover letters. You know what it says to me if you're careless with your job application? It tells me that you have poor attention to detail and are going to let a lot of things slip through the cracks. 2. Your cover letter should make it seem like you bothered to look at my firm's website. It's not rare that I get a cover letter that talks about wanting to do stuff that my firm clearly doesn't do. 3. I get it. You're busy. I remember thinking "I don't have time to make an individualized cover letter for every single firm." That's fine. I did the same thing. But you can't make it be obvious that you didn't care. If you want to design paragraphs that you can just reuse again and again and just have to change out the firm name, that's fine, but at least put some effort into that. 4. So if the basic use of a cover letter, for my purposes, is to see that a person can manage to show basic attention to detail, good spelling, grammar, and writing habits, what does a great cover letter look like? The best cover letter I have ever seen was submitted this summer by a Queen's student. He had three solid paragraphs on what he could do for me and my firm, and a final short paragraph about why he was interested in working for me. The paragraphs were concise and got straight to the point. He had clearly either looked at my website or else had devised a cover letter that worked for small firms and blended things very well. He talked about what he'd accomplish and that translates into "this kid will make my life better," and "this guy will help my business grow/help me make money." I was ready to hire him over the phone just based on that. Sadly, when I called him to book the interview the very next day, he'd received a job offer that morning and taken it. Just based on how amazing his cover letter was, I wanted to hire him. I had my assistant look into the budget to see if we could increase what we were going to pay because I didn't want him to slip away. THAT is what a good cover letter can do. You have to think about it from the employer's perspective. I'm not trying to hire someone so I can give someone a job. I have a need that I am trying to meet. What is my need? How do you help fulfill that need? That's what you need to ask yourself. It has little to nothing to do with what you're interested in or mentor-ship (usually. That said, I personally get a kick out of teaching and mentoring so I do look for an eager student as well). 5. By the way, if you have a problem with your academic history, such as your grades or a gap in time, confront that in your cover letter. Don't go on about it at great length, but at least mention it and be upfront. One of the students I interviewed had such a deficiency in his academics that I almost tossed his application into the pile of applications to interview only if I didn't find a winner in my top 10 list (I broke down the applications into an initial top 10, followed by subsequent groups of 10). But when I looked over his cover letter, I was impressed that he addressed the issue. He did it succinctly and directly. I respected that and put him straight into the top 10 to interview (I didn't select him in the end, but I think he was in my top 3). 6. Oh, and don't include weird stuff. If your cover letter starts to read like a dating profile then I'm going to slowly get weirded out. 7. As an additional note, I'm just going to point out that women are really kicking men's asses in this area. So to the men reading, if you want to do better then maybe talk to women you know. I find women put in the effort to properly edit their cover letters, and pay close attention to detail. When it isn't done, then it really shows, and guys... your stuff really shows. Also, men seem to be prone to doing weird stuff like giving me strange information and even including head shots. Why would you do this? I'm told it's common in Europe, but this isn't Europe. Do the normal things everyone else is doing! Resume 1. Your resume's all look fairly standard, and that's not a bad thing. When resumes stood out for me because of their style instead of their content, it was NEVER for a good reason. You want to go the extra mile on your resume style? Make sure it matches the style of your cover letter and reference list (if you make one. I did when I was applying around, since it give a quick reference guide, but you don't have to, in my opinion). If you use a letter head that indicates your contact info and name, and especially if it has a line below it to separate it from the page, then it should align with the one on your cover letter. It makes it look crisp, well thought out, and well put together instead of being a hodgepodge of documents. 2. As for how you order the content, I recommend that you start with your education (which can include a section on awards, or you can weave it in to the education points), then go to work experience, then go to volunteer, and then leave associations/clubs for last (if you do it at all. Frankly, you should only be listing that stuff if you did something on the exec).You can have a publication section if it's applicable, but I'd probably put that after work experience. Frankly, your education and work experience should appear on the first page. It's okay if your work experience bleeds onto the second page, but that's why you always do these things with the most recent stuff first. 3. If you're going to include an "interests" section, please keep it really, REALLY short. It can be one line at the very bottom. 4. If you went to school abroad, please don't put your work experience first and then bury your education on the second page. Every single time I saw this it was done by an Ontario student who went to school abroad at one of the usual suspects (Bond, City of London, Leicester, Cooley, etc.). It's not clever. It just makes me assume you're ashamed of where you went. Pretty well anyone looking at your application will assume you went to one of those schools because you couldn't get into school in Ontario or even Canada at large. Maybe your undergrad grades were crap (usually the case from what I saw), or maybe your LSAT score wasn't good enough (which I assumed was the case when the undergraduate grades seemed fine). But then there's always the chance that you actually wanted to go to one of those schools (for some weird reason), or that you were actually a fine student with a fine LSAT score and just didn't get into a Canadian school. It happens. I'm sure there are a number of people who go to these schools who were the final ones to not make the list into a law school here who were as good or even better than the bottom admits who may have been admitted for other random reasons (like a particularly good entry essay/"about me" section/personal statement). Be upfront. Trying to hide this stuff makes me think that 1. you're ashamed, and 2. you think you can pull that one past me (or anyone. We will obviously check where you went, if only out of curiosity). Hiding it does nothing. It doesn't emphasize your experience to me. Have both education and work experience on the first page and you're fine. I will sift through your resume to find what I want in the order I want to find it (what school did you go to, what experience do you have, did you keep busy with extra-curriculars instead of work experience, is your resume a hot mess). It doesn't increase your odds of me noticing your work experience and it just makes you stand out as different from the rest of the applicants (and not in a way that's good). Law isn't generally about reinventing the wheel. We have particular formats that we MUST follow. I want to see that you can follow a format. What you do inside of that format is where you can impress me. Great experience, great writing, etc. but if you can't handle formatting/instructions then we have a problem and I don't care what experience you have. Whether I like it or not I have to submit stuff in particular formats as mandated by the courts and/or the government. That's life. Application in General 1. Your formatting should match throughout. It just looks better and doesn't look half-hazard as a result of mismatch. 2. On a couple of occasions (it's rare that I do it) I have seen applications where I thought the applicant might be interesting and worth at least an interview, but their application was kind of crap. On one occasion I asked the individual to redo their application package and resubmit it. I even gave notes as to what I thought the problems were (normally they'd just go into the rejection pile, but there was something about this person that made me interested enough to want to give them a second chance). What was sent back to me was largely the same damn thing. They made a few changes, but they didn't alter one of my main notes to them, and then justified leaving it as was in the email back to me. Basically, I thought they put too much about their interests all over the application. Again, to be frank, I don't care about your interests. That you really like to bake is not going to make me hire you (though when you mention particular things that you cook my assistant wonders if you're going to bring samples to the interview since you talk it up so much). I informed this applicant that it was a bit strange that it appeared so prominently in their cover letter, and then again in the resume interests. While it was fine to have it in their resume interests, the cover letter wasn't really the place for it and there was more I wanted to know. They emailed back that they decided to leave it all in because they'd gotten good feedback and follow up questions about it from others who had interviewed them. In my head, all I could think was "I'm sure you got follow up questions, and feedback, but I don't think the feedback was as good as you think it was." Basically, it's something that makes you stand out in a weird way. Not that baking is a weird hobby, but just that it's a weird choice to feature it so prominently when applying for a position that has nothing to do with baking. Also, I had just given them negative feedback about it but they chose to leave it in. Even if you want to leave it in for other interviews, at least take it out for the person who is giving you a second shot. Not doing so makes you look stubborn and incapable of following instructions, not to mention bad with constructive criticism and feedback. 3. Speaking of following instructions... FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. Check the website of the law firm. Read the instructions regarding the application carefully. Before I go through the applications my assistant divides them up. The easiest separation she does (beyond just checking for spelling and grammar in the cover letter. And I don't mean with a dictionary, I mean just on reading through it for command of the English language) is those who were able to follow instructions and provide a full application package and those who couldn't/didn't. If you're asked for a cover letter, resume, transcripts, and letters of reference (if any) then provide those. And I recommend doing it IN THAT ORDER (that being the order listed). I ask for them in that order because 1. that's usually how it's done, 2. that order makes a lot of sense if you think about it, and 3. that's the order in which I care about what you're submitting. Same thing with the writing sample (arguably I rank that one above the letters of reference). 4. By the way, with your letters of reference, I'm rarely reading them in full. Usually I skip to the bottom to see how they recommend you in the last line or two. Usually that indicates to me how strongly they felt about recommending you, and whether or not they did it because they felt obligated to or because they were legitimately happy to recommend you. Not that your letters of reference will make or break you (at least with me. I think I'd use them as a tie breaker usually), but I want you to know what I'm looking for, and how many shortcuts there are for your interviewers to read between the lines. I think I've only ever called on reference, and it was for the articling student I just hired. There was a lot in there that was great, but there were one or two things that weren't where we'd want it. It came down to him and one other applicant who didn't have any flags but also didn't have as many strong positives in their favour (in particular it was . I had my assistant call the reference and confirm what was in the letter and the nature of the experience that was listed in the resume. If it checked out and they were as excited about the applicant as they seemed in the letter then he'd get the job. If not, then I'd give it to the safer bet with less experience. Everything checked out, and the reference couldn't say enough good things about the applicant. So that's who we went with. 5. Oh, last point, but this related to the weird stuff in cover letters and resumes, because I don't care about your interests you shouldn't include weird stuff that makes me dwell on it. Usually it's guys who are guilty of this because they like to let me know that they enjoy deadlifting and the like. Just say "working out" or "going to the gym." It's an application, not a dating profile. Interview 1. Don't just be on time, be early. I think 15 minutes is good. Half an hour is ridiculous and a bit weird. Just a few minutes is the same thing as being dead on time. Reasons to be early: a). It makes you seem interested and eager. b). It makes you seem punctual, good at planning, responsible, and generally on the ball. c). I may be able to see you earlier than we planned/booked because of any number of reasons, and it puts me in a better mood to remain productive and therefore have the option to see you a bit earlier. I've actually done this when applicants showed up early and the interview before them (or meeting, or phone call, or whatever) is cancelled. d). If you're going to be late, or you think you'll be late, CALL US! Give us a heads up. Making your excuses once you arrive makes me think you were late and misjudged things and now you're lying to me with a fake excuse. Calling while you're on your way to say "I'm so sorry, but there's been an accident on the road and we're all just stuck and not moving" or "my cab got lost," or whatever, makes me believe you, see you as considerate with regards to the time of others, level headed, thinking clearly under pressure, and just generally on top of things. That said, it's always best to not be late, because it means you adequately evaluated how much time you'd need to accomplish the task of arriving. 2. During the interview, do not interrupt. Speak clearly. If you're offered water and you know you tend to get a bit dry mouth during these situations, ACCEPT THE WATER! Don't feel like you need to fill all moments of silence with noise. I'm not looking for noise, I'm looking for good answers. You don't have to "uuummm" and "aauuuuhhh" before you speak. Take a moment. Take a breath. Take a sip of water. Think about what you're going to say. People who seem calm, confident, collected, and like they're thinking things through go a LONG way in my books. 3. The first question you're asked is either going to be an ice breaker or, in the case of other firms, a standard "why do you want to work here" or something like that. For my ice breaker questions I will ask you something that stood out for me from your resume or transcripts. Did you list that you like to do spelunking? I'm going to ask you about cave diving (please don't make any sexual innuendos. Because we want everything to be above board we won't be making such jokes, we won't be responding, and that means your comment will just hang in the air awkwardly). Did you take weird sounding courses like "thinking about thought?" I will ask you what you learned in that. I generally don't care about the answer. I'm looking to make you feel more comfortable by giving you a genuine softball as the first pitch. I know these things are stressful (and some of you show up shaking like leaf), and my philosophy is that you will eventually become comfortable working here even if you're hella nervous and anxious most of the time, and that you will likely do better work when relaxed, and that the interview process is stressful, so if I can help you relax a bit then I'll get to know more about the real you and whether or not I want to work with you. 4. That said, no matter how comfortable we get during the interview, remember that it's still an interview. Sit up, don't lean back and to the side in the chair. Don't slouch. Don't get overly casual in your language. For the love of god, don't start talking to me about family issues or mental health problems, because I promise you I'm a lawyer and not your therapist! There is a time and a place for that sort of discussion and it's NOT in the middle of your interview. 5. Oh, and you may be interested in work life balance, but please don't use the term "work life balance." You want to ask me about the hours? Fine. Do so. But when you tell me that you're concerned about work life balance then it really does conjure up this notion of fragility (rightly or wrongly). I know the big downtown firms talk about it on their websites and in seminars, but I promise you that they don't actually care. They're trying to attract top level candidates but they will chew you up and spit you out (I've known a few friends who went and then left the practice of law all together afterwards because of the stress). If you're concerned about work life balance then ask the questions around it, don't just ask me about work life balance. I'm usually in the office 7 days a week and 12 to 16 hour days are not uncommon for me at all. I don't expect you to do that (obviously. The burdens of a small business owner are not something I would shovel onto a student), but I don't want to hear about your need to ensure that you've got enough time to Netflix and chill. The reason I work those long days and hours now is because I'm still young enough to do so and I assume it will pay off for me with an easier time later. If you tell me that your priority is balance now then I assume you're not someone who thinks about short term sacrifice for long term gain. How does that help you? 6. When you come to the interview, bring additional copies of your application package (make sure you're using the right one for the right firm). I've never needed them, but you should have them in case. If I've lost your application then I probably won't waste time to go find it and will continue on without it. It sucks, but that means a worse interview for you. I prepare for the interviews I hold, but not everyone does, so come prepared. 7. Make sure what you're wearing looks good/appropriate. This is really more directed at the men, so I'm going to talk about this in terms of suits (I don't think there's ever been a problem with what women have worn to interviews at my office). Please make sure your suit fits. Some of you show up in suits that you look like you're swimming in, and they're almost always plain black (I assume it's for funerals). I assume it's your dad's suit and you're borrowing it. Do yourself a favour and go to Moores when there's a special on (like a two for one sale). You need a blue one (dark blue. It's not prom) and either charcoal or grey. Do NOT go plain black (that's for proms, weddings, and funerals). Get some shirts that fit properly. Look at tie combinations. Don't just go with a plain one, but don't go crazy with the patterning. It should look nice but not be something I keep staring at because I can't figure out what's going on with the pattern. With blue suits you should wear brown or burgundy shoes with a matching belt (for bonus points, if your watch has a leather strap, match the watch strap/watch). If you're wearing charcoal/black, then only black shoes and belt will do. If you're wearing grey, you can go with just about any set of shoes and matching belt, though I find burgundy doesn't look as good with grey, and I prefer black with it (in all cases, your socks should match your suit pants. Not exactly, obviously, but blue with blue, grey with grey, black with black). The standard is a white shirt, but you can go with colour just don't go overboard. Subtlety is good. If you're going to do colour, then I recommend a tie that has colours of the shirt and the suit in it (or at least of the shirt). If you talk to someone at Moores they can help you out. French cuffs are a bit much, so I don't care how much you like your cuff links you should leave it at home. Don't wear lapel pins (unless it's remembrance day, then the poppy is fine), and pocket squares are unnecessary (but if it's part of your style, then sure. Just keep in mind we can often tell when you're not comfortable with what you're wearing and that it's just not your style). Tie clips are fine (I wear them), but please wear them properly. If you wear them right at the top then I assume you figured you should "bling" up and add flair, but you have no idea what it's actually for and so you just look ridiculous. Wear the tie clip about 1/3rd to half way down. I usually put mine towards the bottom of where the skinny part of the tie is behind the main tie. Also, make sure the tie clip matches with what your wearing. I take into account the finish on my watch and the buckle on my belt, as well as the colour of the tie. You want to look put together. Oh, but don't bother with a three piece suit. You will just look uncomfortable. Those things are better when you're going to be taking your jacket off, and you shouldn't take it off during the interview. Also, this isn't 'Suits', it's real life. Speaking of Suits, don't buy high peak lapel suits. That's a Harvey Spektor thing, but no one actually does that unless it's on a Tuxedo or you're running a game show or hosting an auction (something like that). Go regular notched lapel. And while having your pants tapered can look nice, I recommend doing it as a slight taper from the knee down. Doing it higher up makes them look like you're trying to recreate skinny jeans. If you can't afford a lot of tailoring then that's fine, but at least get what you buy off the rack fitted to you. There's plenty of places you can go to get that done cheap (often most small shops that do dry cleaning services will do it). Best bet is to go shopping with a friend who knows something about this stuff and go to a place like Moores and they'll help you out. 8. You will see me taking notes. Don't get flustered about me writing stuff down. I may not be writing down anything related to what you're talking about in the moment. It may not even be about you if I've just had a thought about something else. Sometimes I'm writing down exactly what you said because I like the way it sounds and I may want to quote it later. Sometimes I'm taking notes like "good posture," or "answered directly," or other things like that. Don't get nervous, just keep talking to me. Even if I'm not making eye contact while doing it, you should still be looking towards me (or my assistant, who sits in on interviews) ready to make eye contact. 9. If you've prepared an "elevator answer," try not to stick to the script too hard. In fact, scripts are lame. I want to see how you do as just you. On the subject of yourself, you shouldn't need much preparation. 10. Have questions prepared to ask me about the firm, or your duties, or anything like that. It's okay if I end up answering the question before you get to ask it when I give you a spiel about us. You can say so, I won't hold it against you. But you should seem like you at least thought about it. 11. While my assistant sits in on the interviews, don't read too much into it if she has to leave in the middle. Assistants handle all the things that keep the firm running so that lawyers just have to sit down and do the work they can bill for and then pay the assistants. While big firms might do this, I don't like to charge for check-up phone calls or drafting confirmation letters, or doing anything that isn't legal work. My opinion is everything else required to do the legal work should be built into the price. In order to do that, assistants have to carry a lot of the burden and sometimes that means she doesn't have a solid half an hour to an hour to sit there. Usually I'll warn interviewees as we get started, but just in case, don't read too much into it (unless it's right after you said something that caused my facial expression to change and you weren't sure if you should have said it but decided to anyway. Then it might be an indication of what you just said... so, you know, don't say inappropriate stuff!) 12. Likewise, don't get too nervous if the interview gets a bit shorter than you expected. The articling student we hired was one of our shorter interviews. The interview length tends to be determined by a few things, including when I feel like I've got the information I need, how quickly you answer questions, how quickly I remember the questions and think of follow ups (which sometimes can take me a couple tries to frame and phrase properly. I'm only human), and whether or not I start droning on in answer to a question of yours. Don't feel bad about it. It often doesn't mean too much (unless I just feel like I'm getting nowhere with you and your answers aren't addressing the questions). Sometimes the length of the interview will be affected by things that have NOTHING to do with you. As the day wears on, I get more efficient at asking questions and drawing out answers, so that cuts down on the time too. 13. Your handshake should not be weak. Don't squeeze off my hand, but I shouldn't be shaking a wet noodle. Have direction behind it. Don't just put your hand in my hand. 14. If you've got an interview, odds are that you're going to look, on paper, pretty similar to the others, and that likely means you have similar ideas about work and the like. Many of you interview quite similar (so my notes often say things like "confident" or "well spoken). Interviews are more of an elimination round than anything. You don't win much, though you CAN if you blow us away (we like confidence, good command of language, direct in speech, and good at talking about what you can do and what you've overcome). Application Procedure 1. When you receive notice about the interview, it's a good idea to follow up and confirm the date and time. It makes you look organized. Feel free to ask if you should bring anything additional or if we want additional information. People who look eager are great! 2. If you email or call in, we do make note of that. One application that made it into our top picks was only selected because the individual called back to confirm everything and was well spoken on the phone. I didn't even speak to him. My assistant liked how confident he sounded. 3. Be nice and respectful to everyone at the firm, not just the lawyer interviewing you. The assistant you might not think much of? She's more helpful to me than any 10 of you. Good assistants keep a firm running. Great assistants basically run the firm and just give the lawyers law stuff to do. I have a great assistant. I can't do without her, meanwhile I don't even know your name. If you're rude to her, take a guess at how that will play for you. Also, who do you think controls the order in which I look at these applications? Whose opinion do you think I will listen to about them? If you can't get along with my assistant then you can't work here, because I need her and she's amazing at her job. And if she's not happy, that's going to effect me and my practice. When you're rude to my assistant, she will tell me. She will mark it down on your application and make sure I know about it, because she knows I will back her up (if only because she backs me up). So do yourself a favour and don't be an ass. 4. After the interview, do a thank you email. I always thought these were stupid, but once you're on the other side you like to know that it's appreciated that your time was taken up. Actually, I don't even care about that so much, but it's more that it starts to stick out when someone DOESN'T do it vs. doing it. Also, my assistant likes it and, well... see above. 5. If you don't get the job, it's okay to follow up and ask what you could have done better. Generally, people don't mind that. But don't be surprised when sometimes it's ineffable. Often there isn't one mistake I can attribute it to. Sometimes it's just that another person had more experience in an area I need someone with experience. Sometimes it's demeanor/attitude, and sometimes it's confidence, and sometimes it's that you made an inappropriate comment or seemed to not know about the firm at all. But often it's that you were just edged out based on something else (not always, though. At bigger firms it's different. But here, I don't have the time to interview a hundred people, so it's a pretty hard selection process to get to the interview stage). 6. When communicating with the firm, I should not suddenly be receiving lots of emails from you. One to confirm the interview and follow up with questions if any, and a thank you afterwards. We're not pen pals (also, you'll probably be dealing with my assistant). 7. DO NOT try to add me on LinkedIn or other social media at any point during the course of the application process. It's seriously weird to me. I don't know if that's a younger person thing (not that I'm that old, I'm only at the old end of millennials so there shouldn't be THAT much difference in our thinking) but it's strange. We're not buddies. If you get the job, I guess you can add me on LinkedIn (not that I use it), but generally you should wait until you've started the job. Concluding Thoughts There is a standard way of doing the interview process that you shouldn't deviate from. Most of the decision process is made by eliminating people who make mistakes (incomplete package, bad formatting, poor grammar and spelling/command of the English language, poor communication skills in the interview, not following standard procedures). If your application is just plain weak, then you've got problems. Poor grades, going abroad to a last-chance-law-school, and no work experience will simply not bode well for you. I guess you can do the LPP, but you'll still have to pass the NCA's and Bar exams. After that you need to either start your own firm or adjust your expectations severely in terms of what your work will look like. A lot of places you want to work won't hire you, and the places that will hire you will have lousy pay structures. You've got to think about that stuff carefully when doing this. If you haven't gone to law school yet but are considering it and you can foresee these problems. then maybe think hard before committing to this career path (it could be an expensive mistake). Also, if you get hired, that isn't the end of things. I have been deeply impressed by my recent hire who asked if there was legislation or acts he should be reading before starting so that he's up to date on areas of particular concern to me, and offered to assist with some things. That's one hell of a way to impress, which is especially important in firms where you want to be hired back or get a really strong letter of reference. Frankly, I think all of this can be summed up by effort. Some people are prepared to put in the effort, and other people aren't. If you're ready to make the effort to do things properly, you'll do fine. If you aren't, then you won't. Good luck out there.
  12. Could be worse. Could be a B- average? Though, frankly, something tells me you can get interviews with that anyway if you cast a wide enough net. I wouldn't be surprised if it comes down to flashy stuff on the resume sometimes. That goes especially for this past year. It's been HARD to get into law school lately. The competition has been skyrocketing because the job market and economy have sucked so hard people are just staying in/going back to school. There's a bigger crop of top students than normal, and your grades in law school aren't grades. It's a ranking of how you did in the class. Considering we all seem to be pretty well on the up and up, and some people have to come out on the bottom despite not actually sucking (just not being as top as others)... I don't know if grades are the only monolithic decider. I'm not saying they aren't important but it wouldn't shock me if some firms just say "fuck it." Seriously, think about it. SOMEONE has to be at the bottom. And in law school you can still get the bottom marks despite being correct on the exams. Just other people were MORE correct than you were.
  13. First year grades are up. I know this because I have gone from considering switching courses for second year to considering switching into clown college... UGH!
  14. Ugh... if Queen's felt I should have gone to clown college there were more subtle and less painful ways to make the suggestion... Anyone know if there's a point where you shouldn't even bother with OCI's?
  15. Yeah, I'm looking at apartments too. I miss my old place at Frontenac and Mac (had its own washer and drier, good house), but don't have the housemates anymore... My suggestion is to look into apartments. The Princess Tower, I think it's called, is ok and decently priced if you take out 12 month leases. I'm looking at the towers further in the ghetto just now. I don't mind the student ghetto and those places seem ok. That said, it isn't the cheapest thing ever, and considering the price difference between a 1 and 2 bedroom is just $100, I think I'm going for a 2 bedroom. I've come to enjoy having a lot more space here just outside of Toronto, I don't feel like going back to my undergrad living style. Alternatively, some of you first years can look into residence at Queen's. The upper year rez is a really nice, rather newly constructed dorm. I was among the group of undergrads to take up residency there during its second year of operation. I think that was also the last time the place was mostly first years. They also used to have some grad studies spaces in rooms up in the JDuc, but I think those have been torn down. That said, I'm sure Queen's has something around!
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