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11 minutes ago, Disputes said:

even articling at national/international firms?

No. I was responding to the notion that law is worthless profession because after articling your law firm can let you go. Most employers have a similar process; they hire you on a probation period lasting 6 months and if they don't want to keep you, you are let go. Articling has its issues, but the possibility of being let go at the end of the mandatory training contract isn't one of them.

Edited by conge

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Chance of getting hired back = how cool you are * how good you are * employer's hire-back multiplier. 

If you are a zero on the cooooool scale 😎 you might be SOL even if you are a wunderkind. 

If you are a zero on the good scale you are certainly SOL even if your last name is Fonzarelli. 

And even if you are a 9/10 on both scales, you might be SOL if your employer doesn't hire most people back. 

This general equation of cool * good = job applies to every private enterprise. Only in the public sphere can you somehow hold a job while being very not cool and also pretty incompetent. 

Edited by BringBackCrunchBerries
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30 minutes ago, levin said:

Overheard somewhere that this is how you get hired back: you say yes to everything they tell you to do and say no to everything outside of work that matters in your life.  gf/bf wants to see you? nope. mom wants you to come for dinner? sorry. friends want to hang out? they will eventually stop asking anyway and you will have no friends in the end. /s

This is rather unprofessional. Where is this coming from? have you actually worked in various firms in diff fields where you saw this happen. I'd say yes if you don't do good work, but not because they don't like you. I've seen plenty of weirdos and losers who are disliked but if they do good work that's really all that matters.  

Yes. A new administrative person was hired on probation. Their work was fine. But no one really liked working with this person because of their personality. So when it came time to make a decision at the end the probation period, they were let go in accordance with their contract. (Someone else was hired for the position instead, and is still with the company.)

I really don't think it's unprofessional to let someone go in accordance with their contract when their continued employment would be detrimental to the company because no one likes working with them.

EDIT: I realize you may have been asking about articling students/lawyers in law firm environment rather than employment at companies more generally; if your question is about law firms specifically, then the answer is still "yes"; I've also seen it happen in a law firm. This person was very smart, nearly top of the class, had a "prestigious" clerkship lined up, worked hard, did good work BUT no one could stand working with them. I think it was the right decision for the firm. This person landed well; they just didn't "fit" with that particular firm. 

Edited by conge
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4 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Chance of getting hired back = how cool you are * how good you are * employer's hire-back multiplier. 

If you are a zero on the cooooool scale 😎 you might be SOL even if you are a wunderkind. 

If you are a zero on the good scale you are certainly SOL even if your last name is Fonzarelli. 

And even if you are a 9/10 on both scales, you might be SOL if your employer doesn't hire most people back. 

This general equation of cool * good = job applies to every private enterprise. Only in the public sphere can you somehow hold a job while being very not cool and also pretty incompetent. 

By cool do you mean likeable as another poster was talking about, or cool as in Mean Girls cool

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26 minutes ago, Disputes said:

By cool do you mean likeable as another poster was talking about, or cool as in Mean Girls cool

Depends on the firm, of course!

For some of them, Mean Girls cool might go a long way.

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On 9/10/2019 at 5:15 AM, conge said:

Yes. A new administrative person was hired on probation. Their work was fine. But no one really liked working with this person because of their personality. So when it came time to make a decision at the end the probation period, they were let go in accordance with their contract. (Someone else was hired for the position instead, and is still with the company.)

I really don't think it's unprofessional to let someone go in accordance with their contract when their continued employment would be detrimental to the company because no one likes working with them.

EDIT: I realize you may have been asking about articling students/lawyers in law firm environment rather than employment at companies more generally; if your question is about law firms specifically, then the answer is still "yes"; I've also seen it happen in a law firm. This person was very smart, nearly top of the class, had a "prestigious" clerkship lined up, worked hard, did good work BUT no one could stand working with them. I think it was the right decision for the firm. This person landed well; they just didn't "fit" with that particular firm. 

I think it's the same thing for any profession / career / life.  You can be more "intelligent" (or generally "superior" in one narrow field) but you're not going to be very "successful" because more often than not, success comes from the power of teamwork.  

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On 9/10/2019 at 5:13 AM, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Chance of getting hired back = how cool you are * how good you are * employer's hire-back multiplier. 

If you are a zero on the cooooool scale 😎 you might be SOL even if you are a wunderkind. 

If you are a zero on the good scale you are certainly SOL even if your last name is Fonzarelli. 

And even if you are a 9/10 on both scales, you might be SOL if your employer doesn't hire most people back. 

This general equation of cool * good = job applies to every private enterprise. Only in the public sphere can you somehow hold a job while being very not cool and also pretty incompetent. 

I think by "cool" is whether your clients think you're cool.  You can be the most shit lawyer in the world but your clients love you then the bosses will keep you (or even make you partner very soon).  And let the lowly associates do these things called "legal work".  

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On 9/10/2019 at 5:11 AM, levin said:

 I'd say yes if you don't do good work, but not because they don't like you. I've seen plenty of weirdos and losers who are disliked but if they do good work that's really all that matters.  

I've seen people let go even though they do amazing work, but just can't stop pissing off clients (i.e. not good at being social / generally not likeable amongst clients).  Usually most legal work (at least transactional work...) don't need to be amazing -- as long as the document works,  and client pays the legal fees, then it's fine...

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2 hours ago, Ruthless4Life said:

I've seen people let go even though they do amazing work, but just can't stop pissing off clients (i.e. not good at being social / generally not likeable amongst clients).  Usually most legal work (at least transactional work...) don't need to be amazing -- as long as the document works,  and client pays the legal fees, then it's fine...

If they're pissing off clients, they're not doing amazing work.

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Was wondering if anybody had any advice for students this year specifically considering many are starting articles while a large portion of the firm is working remotely. Perhaps those lawyers or summer students who have been working during COVID could shed some light on their experience?

 

 

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59 minutes ago, PoutineKing said:

Was wondering if anybody had any advice for students this year specifically considering many are starting articles while a large portion of the firm is working remotely. Perhaps those lawyers or summer students who have been working during COVID could shed some light on their experience?

Sure. I have a couple things I'll share. 

1. This is true every year, but especially true this year. Be in charge of your education. In 10 months you're going to have to sign something from the LSO that attests you are competent to practice. You should be as confident as you can be that it's true. Go ask for the work you want. Haven't gotten that employment experience yet? Ask. Haven't sat in on a negotiation? Ask. Go and chase the work you want, now more than ever it won't necessarily be handed to you. 

2. Make your introductions early and often. First emails to colleagues matter. I tended to the side of formality with these, but ymmv. Don't skirt by and come to the end of your articles knowing 10% of the people you should. 

3. Help yourself, then ask for help. Typically, if something has passed muster before, it will again. Look at the way things (emails to OC, contracts, letters, etc.) have been drafted before, and try your best to emulate them. With that being said, don't spin your wheels. If you've looked in your system/google/precendents and can't find an example of "weird transfer of environmental permit declaration c-230", don't spend 4 hours because you're too proud to look dumb. Guess what, you're gonna look dumb one way or the other. Look dumb faster. 

4. I say this more for people that aren't in the big law setting, and who may be in positions where admin work more readily falls to them. Each time you get a new task, ask yourself whether you can automate it or do it quicker. Google it if you think it's possible. If so, learn to automate it. The amount of time I saved by teaching myself how to mail merge, conditional format in excel, format, etc. was astronomical, and kept my desk a lot clearer, and by proxy, made me able to say yes to "real" legal work a lot more often. Here's a good starter, in windows, ctrl+shift+n creates new folders. F2 immediately allows you rename a file or folder if it's highlighted. ctrl+c for copy, ctrl+v for paste, ctrl+x for cut. If I see one more person right click and scroll through the options, I'm gonna lose it. 

Edited by whoknows
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1 hour ago, whoknows said:

2. Make your introductions early and often. First emails to colleagues matter. I tended to the side of formality with these, but ymmv. Don't skirt by and come to the end of your articles knowing 10% of the people you should. 

Could you (or anyone else) elaborate on this? For instance, I can envision myself letting a lawyer know that I'd like to keep working on a file once I hand in something they've assigned to me. Or even following up on something I've already sent in to ask if there's anything else I can do. But would you suggest "cold" emailing various lawyers at the beginning of articles just to say hello, introduce myself, and/or ask if the lawyer needs anything done on [Fascinating Case] or to keep me in mind if they have an arbitration coming up?

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14 minutes ago, Demander said:

Could you (or anyone else) elaborate on this? For instance, I can envision myself letting a lawyer know that I'd like to keep working on a file once I hand in something they've assigned to me. Or even following up on something I've already sent in to ask if there's anything else I can do. But would you suggest "cold" emailing various lawyers at the beginning of articles just to say hello, introduce myself, and/or ask if the lawyer needs anything done on [Fascinating Case] or to keep me in mind if they have an arbitration coming up?

I think in CoVid times this might not be the worst thing. But I'm unsure myself.

If you keep it general I'm guessing it couldn't hurt? Full disclosure though I'm in the same situation as you.

"Hi I'm X and I'm really interested in Y, Partnor Z which you're a leading practitioner on. I've done A and B on this and I'd love to learn C-W working with you throughout the term!" 

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1 hour ago, Demander said:

Could you (or anyone else) elaborate on this? For instance, I can envision myself letting a lawyer know that I'd like to keep working on a file once I hand in something they've assigned to me. Or even following up on something I've already sent in to ask if there's anything else I can do. But would you suggest "cold" emailing various lawyers at the beginning of articles just to say hello, introduce myself, and/or ask if the lawyer needs anything done on [Fascinating Case] or to keep me in mind if they have an arbitration coming up?

I don’t think cold emails are a bad idea, if done right.

First, be strategic about who you contact in that manner. Senior partners, for example, may have little or no use for an articling student — it’s generally better, in my view, to deal with junior partners and senior associates. Play the chain.

Second, be patient and don’t overdo it. If someone tells you they don’t have anything for you right now but will “keep you in mind”, it’s likely that they mean it — don’t keep bugging them. Most lawyers will be impressed that you showed the initiative/interest and, as a result, will actually keep you in mind.

And if you’re at a firm where you have a formal mentorship arrangement, have no shame about asking your mentor to make those introductions. It’s what they’re there for. They’ll often know who’s actually doing the work you’re interested in, and it will be easier for them to introduce you to those people than it is for you to introduce yourself.

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50 minutes ago, Rearden said:

I don’t think cold emails are a bad idea, if done right.

First, be strategic about who you contact in that manner. Senior partners, for example, may have little or no use for an articling student — it’s generally better, in my view, to deal with junior partners and senior associates. Play the chain.

Second, be patient and don’t overdo it. If someone tells you they don’t have anything for you right now but will “keep you in mind”, it’s likely that they mean it — don’t keep bugging them. Most lawyers will be impressed that you showed the initiative/interest and, as a result, will actually keep you in mind.

And if you’re at a firm where you have a formal mentorship arrangement, have no shame about asking your mentor to make those introductions. It’s what they’re there for. They’ll often know who’s actually doing the work you’re interested in, and it will be easier for them to introduce you to those people than it is for you to introduce yourself.

This is good advice, IMO. The other thing I meant is this hypothetical: 

Senior Associate A has assigned you five different piece of work on the Pharma Merger that Partner B is heading up, and that Senior Associate C is also doing a bunch of work on (you can tell because you read email chains through, and pay attention to common CC's). One day you hop into your weekly firm call 5 mins early and Partner B and Senior Associate C are there early too. Put a face to a name. Introduce yourself as the person that's been helping out.

Even more realistic would just be to introduce yourself in the email thread, as appropriate. 

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11 hours ago, Demander said:

Could you (or anyone else) elaborate on this? For instance, I can envision myself letting a lawyer know that I'd like to keep working on a file once I hand in something they've assigned to me. Or even following up on something I've already sent in to ask if there's anything else I can do. But would you suggest "cold" emailing various lawyers at the beginning of articles just to say hello, introduce myself, and/or ask if the lawyer needs anything done on [Fascinating Case] or to keep me in mind if they have an arbitration coming up?

 

9 hours ago, Rearden said:

I don’t think cold emails are a bad idea, if done right.

First, be strategic about who you contact in that manner. Senior partners, for example, may have little or no use for an articling student — it’s generally better, in my view, to deal with junior partners and senior associates. Play the chain.

Second, be patient and don’t overdo it. If someone tells you they don’t have anything for you right now but will “keep you in mind”, it’s likely that they mean it — don’t keep bugging them. Most lawyers will be impressed that you showed the initiative/interest and, as a result, will actually keep you in mind.

And if you’re at a firm where you have a formal mentorship arrangement, have no shame about asking your mentor to make those introductions. It’s what they’re there for. They’ll often know who’s actually doing the work you’re interested in, and it will be easier for them to introduce you to those people than it is for you to introduce yourself.

I don't know, when I was articling I did cold introductions to partners I wanted to work with and it turned out great. I remember just popping by the office of the senior partner who headed the practice group I hoped to eventually be hired into, introducing myself, saying I was interested in the practice area and would love the opportunity to work on any files that he needed help with. That partner rarely worked with articling students, but he ended up bringing me on a couple of files, was instrumental in my getting hired, and to this day remains one of my biggest suppliers of work. YMMV, and I always suggest people do what works for them and their own personality/style, but I had a lot of success with the cold introduction, and never shied away from approaching more senior people. Just make sure you're respectful about it, like maybe read the room and don't barge in if they seem deep into prepping for something big/urgent (though emails would help sidestep this).

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People who have articled: Are there particular tasks/experiences that you would suggest that every articling student try to get under their belt by the time they're done?

My motivation for asking this pretty open- ended question is that I want to put myself out there and jump onto files I find interesting, but s I do so, I also want to have some kind of strategy around developing my competence to practice.

I understand it's probably specific to area of law, so let's say... what are some essentials for a hypothetical practice involving general civil lit, corporate/commercial, employment, admin law, family, municipal law, and tort?

Maybe the answer is simply to try to get onto as wide a variety of tasks as possible. In any case, I'm interested in hearing about what you were relieved you got the opportunity to do/learn during articles, and what you regret not doing. 

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For litigation, as much exposure as you can to client management and clients themselves (managing expectations, giving opinions, CYA, billing, retainers, etc.).

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Learn what a continuing record is and where to find information in it. Try to draft as many different kinds of pleadings as possible (application, answer, conference brief, affidavits), get your own client interviews in, etc. Everything that @Mountebank said too.

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I just sent an e-mail to someone asking specifically what skills they should master in articling if they want to get into civil litigation.  Figured I might as well share with the group:

Quote

Get your head around the main stages of litigation.  That’s all you’ll realistically be able to do in this period of time.  Draft pleadings, and learn the difference between pleading material facts (good) and pleading evidence (bad).  Prepare a Notice of Motion and a Motion Record.  Draft a dozen affidavits and learn how to draft evidence (good) without drafting argument (bad), and how to insulate your witness from cross-examination.  A big part of articling in a barrister’s practice is learning to distinguish between what kinds of statements are appropriate for what kinds of documents.  “Grounds” in a Notice of Motion are different from “material facts” in a third party claim; evidence in an administrative affidavit is different from recital of the facts in a factum, even though they both convey the same information.

 

Attend a discovery and a cross-examination (if you can) and see how they differ (“can you walk me through the office, what’s to the right of the kitchen” vs. “the lab is to the right of the kitchen?”), and how scripts differ for them.  It’s unlikely you’ll be allowed to conduct either, so watching will have to do.

 

Draft a factum if you can, or at least offer to do part of one to save a lawyer some time.  Challenge yourself to see how small you can make your submissions.

 

Go see a trial.  If not during articles, afterwards.  Pick a lawyer to “be” and think about what she has to prove and what she needs to defeat, and watch how she lines those issues up.  If possible, help someone prepare for trial and look at how they organize all that.  If you can do a small claims trial, do.  You’ll be ready for anything once that fear of the unknown is behind you, and you’ll have messed up so badly that you’ll have learned by experience how better to organize yourself for any kind of hearing.

 

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