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NucksFTW

Questions about being a U of C law student

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For those of you who are deciding between schools, have accepted an offer from U of C, have been wait-listed, are still waiting to hear back etc.

I'm happy to take any questions you've got about U of C law (I'm currently a 2L if you hadn't gathered that from other threads). I found this site to be a very useful resource in deciding between schools when I was an applicant and after I had accepted my offer.

 

I think we've hashed out questions about the application process and chances in other threads, so I'd rather not get into that subject matter again here. Waiting to hear back from U of C about your application is excruciating. The online system, the communication with applicants, the time frame, and the whole application process suck. That is not at all an accurate reflection of the law school, and it's really too bad that it's your introduction to U of C law.

 

Hopefully some of the other current students who post on this forum will chip in as well.

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Hey! Thanks for doing this.

 

I got an offer a week or so ago (as you rightly predicted). I'm a bit confused about finding a 1L summer job. I've heard that Calgary firms don't wait for your fall marks to come out before hiring 1L summer students, and that they hire a very limited number to begin with. 

 

How do I go about applying? Is it through the school or do I conduct my own research and apply independently? What can I do to improve my odds of securing a 1L job? I have contacts in the legal community here but I'm not sure if I should use them to network with law firm recruiters. 

 

I realize it may be a bit early for me to start worrying about a 1L summer job, but it's the one thing I haven't been able to find conclusive answers for.

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Hi Nucks, thanks for doing this.

 

I want to hear an honest opinion on how UofC 2Ls and 3Ls are doing in terms of securing an articling placement (somewhere I saw it was 99% success rate).

Do most of 3Ls secure a job before entering the last year? If so, would you be able to give an approximate percentage of those who do?

 

Do most of the graduates work in Calgary? Edmonton? Vancouver? Rural communities?

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Hey! Thanks for doing this.

 

I got an offer a week or so ago (as you rightly predicted). I'm a bit confused about finding a 1L summer job. I've heard that Calgary firms don't wait for your fall marks to come out before hiring 1L summer students, and that they hire a very limited number to begin with. 

 

How do I go about applying? Is it through the school or do I conduct my own research and apply independently? What can I do to improve my odds of securing a 1L job? I have contacts in the legal community here but I'm not sure if I should use them to network with law firm recruiters. 

 

I realize it may be a bit early for me to start worrying about a 1L summer job, but it's the one thing I haven't been able to find conclusive answers for.

 

 

It is true that hiring decisions for 1Ls happen before Fall marks, but as there's only one fall Mark in first year (Legislation, Administration and Policy, or "LAP") this is really no worse than hiring a 1L in February.  However, the best way to think about 1L hiring is that some firms hire a small number of 1Ls, on the basis that they think those candidates either won't be available in fall of second year, or will have way more options then--so it's essentially a recruiting tool.  It's a valuable process to participate in, but it's also important not to invest too much of your self-worth in whether you happen to get a 1L summer.  In my year around 17 people were hired out of the 1L class, out of 114--I'm not sure what the numbers were like the last two years, but my guess is it was somewhat similar.

 

In the end, being hired as a 1L might be something of a mixed blessing anyway--because you'll be making a decision about where to work without really knowing very much about the law, much less knowing what kind of law you'd like to practice.  Since not all firms bring 1Ls back for a second summer, you might find yourself looking for work in 2L anyway (though generally the 1L offer will come with an offer of articles). 

 

Applications will be due around the first week of October, and call day this year was in early November.  There are resume workshops and such at the school, and our Career Services Office does a good job of keeping you apprised of the relevant deadlines, but for the most part you do the applications yourself, and if you're interviewed that will happen at the firm offices downtown.

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Hi Nucks, thanks for doing this.

 

I want to hear an honest opinion on how UofC 2Ls and 3Ls are doing in terms of securing an articling placement (somewhere I saw it was 99% success rate).

Do most of 3Ls secure a job before entering the last year? If so, would you be able to give an approximate percentage of those who do?

 

Do most of the graduates work in Calgary? Edmonton? Vancouver? Rural communities?

 

We are definitely doing pretty well relative to other law schools at the moment, but I would hesitate to attach an exact percentage to it.  There are a few people in my year still looking for articles, but nothing like the proportion you hear about at schools out East. 

 

I would say most work in Calgary (and indeed, access to the Calgary legal market is one big reason to come here).  I know of several who will be working in Vancouver (generally people with BC connections) and one or two are (I think) going to Edmonton.  I haven't heard about anyone articling in a rural community, but I'm not exactly "in the know" with such things.

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I have a lot of questions so please bear with me!

 

1. are the 1L jobs all or mostly in big firms? are there other (ie. non "big law") options for work for a 1L student during the summer? i thought i heard some buzz about research assistant jobs and the such, as well as a paid position with SLA? are there other kinds jobs available to us in the summer?

 

2. i know the legal market in calgary is super ~hot~ and whatever. what if you're - again - not interested in "big law" (even typing out that phrase feels weird for me, ngl)? i'm open to the possibility of staying in calgary after graduating, so i'd love what opportunities there outside of the corporate world are like. especially because u of c seems to be very much geared towards big firm, corporate law.

 

3. is the legal market (and the calgary/alberta economy in general) projected to stay as strong as it is by the time we would graduate in 2016? because this is, along with my above two issues) would be a major factor in my decision to accept calgary's offer.

 

4. this isn't a calgary-specific question, but do out of province students tend to go back home for the summers? or do they stick around? i'm asking because i don't know what i'll do housing wise... the idea of having to move in and out of apartments and between provinces every year is horrifying to me. i would spend my entire summers there just NOT to have to do that, but i'm curious to know what other people do.

Edited by honeypower

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3. is the legal market (and the calgary/alberta economy in general) projected to stay as strong as it is by the time we would graduate in 2016? because this is, along with my above two issues) would be a major factor in my decision to accept calgary's offer.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/24/bitumen-bubble-redford-warns-of-austere-times-to-come-amid-soaring-alberta-deficits/

 

:(

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None of us know what the future holds, but obviously falling oil prices aren't good for anyone here, least of all corporate lawyers.

 

There are definitely opportunities outside of "big law" in Calgary, but unfortunately most of the SUMMER work is at bigger firms.  The recruitment process generally is a little bit "big law" focused, but there are also opportunities at smaller shops, the Crown, etc. etc.  It means pounding the pavement a little more, and it may also mean that you'll be looking for work outside of law for both summers (though it doesn't necessarily; there ARE opportunities for summer law students outside of big firms, just not quite as many).  But there's no reason you can't be just as successful in finding articles outside of the big firms, if you go in with that plan, are diligent about networking and realistic about what it means.

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I have one more question-

How successful are UofC law students, in general, when the subject matter concerns getting into 'big law'?

Do you encounter a fair number of students in your class who have articles lined up at national firms?

 

Thanks again!

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I have one more question-

How successful are UofC law students, in general, when the subject matter concerns getting into 'big law'?

Do you encounter a fair number of students in your class who have articles lined up at national firms?

 

Thanks again!

 

U of C students do really well at securing articles in the Calgary market. This is the second biggest legal market in the country, and our graduates make up a substantial amount of the lawyers at all of the national firms. If you want to work in Calgary post-graduation, I think going to school here puts you in the best position to do so. There are definitely lots of students have articles lined up at the national firms in town

 

But it's tough to quantify the number of students who end up in 'big law.' I think relative to most other schools in the country, U of C sends a lot of students into big law.

 

The school certainly has a corporate focus. The vast majority of the postings with the careers office are for positions with the downtown corporate firms and most students want to end up working there, at least for their articles.

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3. is the legal market (and the calgary/alberta economy in general) projected to stay as strong as it is by the time we would graduate in 2016? because this is, along with my above two issues) would be a major factor in my decision to accept calgary's offer.

 

The economic issues are all relative. The Alberta economy is still doing much better than anywhere else in the country, and that is projected to continue. Ontario is trending in the wrong direction, and that legal market is downright scary. As a resource economy, Alberta is particularly cyclical. There are definitely highs and lows, but overall the economy is going strong and should continue to do so. Oil prices have a big impact on the economy, but as a non-renewable resource with increasing global demand I think the long term price trend will be positive. If gas prices can recover at some point as well, the economy will really start to take off again.

 

I think Calgary is the best place to be a young professional in Canada. There are lots of opportunities here, and it's a very young and entrepreneurial city.

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I'm a bit confused about finding a 1L summer job. I've heard that Calgary firms don't wait for your fall marks to come out before hiring 1L summer students, and that they hire a very limited number to begin with. 

 

How do I go about applying? Is it through the school or do I conduct my own research and apply independently? What can I do to improve my odds of securing a 1L job? I have contacts in the legal community here but I'm not sure if I should use them to network with law firm recruiters. 

 

I realize it may be a bit early for me to start worrying about a 1L summer job, but it's the one thing I haven't been able to find conclusive answers for.

 

In my 1L year, there were about 12 students who got 1L summer jobs at the big firms. This year I've heard the numbers were a bit down, to about 9 or 10. I think the reason for the trend is that we are seeing more students from across the country applying to the Calgary legal market for summer positions.

 

In my year, every student who got a 1L summer job was offered an articling position at that firm after the summer. It's a great chance to secure an article, but the reality is that most students don't get these jobs. The big push is in the fall of 2L for the 2nd year summer jobs.

 

The job postings for the 1L big law positions will all be emailed to you by the careers office. But you'll need to do some independent research to learn about the firms and make a case for why you would be a good fit at that firm. Having a good network in the Calgary legal community would certainly improve your chances of securing a 1L job, and I would encourage you to leverage your existing contacts.

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I want to hear an honest opinion on how UofC 2Ls and 3Ls are doing in terms of securing an articling placement (somewhere I saw it was 99% success rate).

Do most of 3Ls secure a job before entering the last year? If so, would you be able to give an approximate percentage of those who do?

 

Do most of the graduates work in Calgary? Edmonton? Vancouver? Rural communities?

 

In November of this year, I heard 80% of the current 3L class had secured articles.

At that same time, about 45-50% of the current 2L class had secured summer positions or signed articling offers after 1L summers. The understanding is that the vast majority of big law summer positions will turn into articling offers.

 

These numbers aren't really published though, and there's definitely a wide margin of error. The numbers were compiled by going through the class list and calculating all the people we knew had secured jobs.

 

Most of our graduates end up working in Calgary. Our 2L class had 2 people get Bay St. jobs and about 7 people get Vancouver big firm jobs. The challenge with rural jobs is that most of the small firms don't offer articling positions. We had a student summer in Lethbridge last year and I've heard a 3L is going to article Fort McMurray.

 

The 99% articling placement rate is calculated within about 6 months of graduation. Last year's graduating class had about 8 students without articles upon graduation, but I've heard that all but 1 or 2 of them got jobs within 6-8 months.

 

It's still hard work to get a job in Calgary, despite the perception that it's raining jobs out here. However, the market is in better shape than the rest of the country and our articling placement rates are very competitive compared to most other law schools.

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1. are the 1L jobs all or mostly in big firms? are there other (ie. non "big law") options for work for a 1L student during the summer? i thought i heard some buzz about research assistant jobs and the such, as well as a paid position with SLA? are there other kinds jobs available to us in the summer?

 

There are quite a few options for 1L summer jobs, but the big firm positions are the only ones that typically lead to articling offers.

 

Student Legal Assistance usually has 8 summer positions available. The jobs actually pay pretty well and the experience is amazing. These jobs typically go to the students who are really involved in SLA throughout 1L.

 

There are also some research positions available in the faculty. BLG sponsors a research position for a student, and the faculty usually hires a few additional students as research assistants.

 

Aside from that, some 1L students get in-house legal positions with oil and gas companies. There were also a couple students who got jobs with Alberta Justice (the crown) and Calgary Legal guidance.

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2. i know the legal market in calgary is super ~hot~ and whatever. what if you're - again - not interested in "big law" (even typing out that phrase feels weird for me, ngl)? i'm open to the possibility of staying in calgary after graduating, so i'd love what opportunities there outside of the corporate world are like. especially because u of c seems to be very much geared towards big firm, corporate law.

 

U of C definitely is geared towards the corporate law. However, many students also get jobs in criminal defense, family law, with the crown, and with smaller firms which practice largely real estate, wills & estates, and some corporate/commercial work.

 

As Canada's second biggest legal market, you can really practice any type of law in Calgary. The work ranges from the biggest corporate files to work with disadvantaged groups and lower-income people. The one exception I can think of is that there isn't a lot of Intellectual Property work in Calgary (it's largely in Ottawa).

 

The challenge is that the big law jobs pay the best and have the most positions available. Many students work in big law for a couple years and then move on to other opportunities once they've paid off some debt and gained some experience. The big firms know that this is the reality and plan for it.

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4. this isn't a calgary-specific question, but do out of province students tend to go back home for the summers? or do they stick around? i'm asking because i don't know what i'll do housing wise... the idea of having to move in and out of apartments and between provinces every year is horrifying to me. i would spend my entire summers there just NOT to have to do that, but i'm curious to know what other people do.

 

This is a tough question to answer because it really varies. Most students stayed in Calgary for the summer after 1L. I went back to BC for the summer though because I had a good job lined up there and I wasn't tied to a lease. More students stay in Calgary the summer after 2L, but it all depends on jobs. That's the key factor for the majority of students.

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Thanks for this, Nucks. Really informative.

 

1. Who are generally netting the 1L summer positions? Are we talking people with previous connections or who have certain experience (say business/economics/engineering courses in oil and gas or actual work experience in a specific field) or what?
 

2. Do you think Calgary's "energy focus" helps Calgary grads get jobs in Alberta? 

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Thanks for this, Nucks. Really informative.

 

1. Who are generally netting the 1L summer positions? Are we talking people with previous connections or who have certain experience (say business/economics/engineering courses in oil and gas or actual work experience in a specific field) or what?

 

2. Do you think Calgary's "energy focus" helps Calgary grads get jobs in Alberta? 

 

1. Typically, 1L summer jobs go to people with impressive stuff on their resume from prior to law school.  Think engineers, people with work experience, etc. etc.  Strong undergraduate grades don't hurt either.  There's no hard and fast rule, and frankly there's some luck involved. 

 

2.  I think it's more "geographic proximity," honestly.  It doesn't hurt that there's an "energy focus," but it's not as though graduates of schools without that focus are unable to practice energy law in Alberta.  It's important not to overrate the effect of the 'energy focus,' which really manifests itself in terms of course offerings in upper-year, so students will experience it differently, and I suspect that firms (rightly) feel that it doesn't make a lot of difference to their hiring decisions, even if they had decided when hiring articling students that they are going into the energy area, which is generally not the case.

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